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Spring Cleaning Your PC

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Spring time is here and so comes the urge to clean up the house, garage, car, boat (yeah!) after a long winter. But what about your PC? When was the last time you cleaned it up? If you can’t remember when, or worse, never have, then read on. The tips below are just a small number of ways that you can get the most out of your PC without a lot of work and it will get your PC to run better than it has in awhile. Please note though, before attempting to do any of these tips, make sure that you have a good backup copy of your system in stored away. If not, get a back up done FIRST!!!

  1. Desktop Clutter

    Remove all shortcuts and documents that clutter your desktop screen. For the newbies in the bunch, that’s the screen that appears when you boot up your computer. A clutter free desktop can do wonders for your productivity. If you have to access icons on a cluttered desktop screen, you will need to resize windows or remove them altogether. These distractions can slow you down and simply waste time. Instead only place icons or shortcuts of documents or applications that you plan to use or tend to use most often. When you don’t need them anymore, either save them in a folder or remove them. Another idea is to group icons and or shortcuts by purpose or project. That way, you can quickly move to the required icon or shortcut and click away.

  2. Get rid of programs you no longer need.

    New programs are always being added to the your current list as you use the PC in new and productive ways. Over a period of time, a number of these programs can become obsolete or no longer used. They accumulate on your PC and either take up disk space (not really a problem anymore) or PC memory resources. Go down the list of programs that you currently have on your system and honestly ask yourself, “Do I really need this anymore?”. If not, make a note of it for later removal. Continue down the list until you have all the programs you believe that you do not need. If you are not sure about what a program does or what affect it will have on your PC, simply ask a techie or someone in the know. They can let you know. Now you can either have that person remove the programs for you or you can do the following yourself.

    1. Click the Start button on the lower left side of the screen
    2. Find and click the Control Panel.
    3. Click on Add and Remove Programs
    4. A window will pop up that will have a delay as it searches for all programs and applications on your PC.
    5. Select the program to delete
    6. Click on the Remove/Change button.

    This will execute an uninstall procedure that will remove the program. Continue repeating the steps until you remove all the programs that you selected.

  3. Clean up Registry

    The Windows Registry is a database which stores settings and options for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains information and settings for all the hardware and operating system software, most non-operating software, and per-user settings. It’s much like the core of an apple (sorry Microsoft, couldn’t help myself). It holds everything together. Anyway, this registry is constantly being updated and changed by the user when programs are added or removed or when settings are changed (like the desktop screen or password). Over time, the system slows down because there remains a lot of broken links or values that no longer apply to what the system is currently set to. Yet, the PC still needs to navigate through it to find the information it needs when you attempt to run a program or change a setting. CCleaner can help clean up this mess and get the registry back in shape. Best of all, CCleaner is FREE!

  4. Organize your My Documents folder

    If your current file organization system works for you, congratulations. But if your frequently find yourself letting files clutter your PC’s desktop, or if you spend time arranging files in a deep, complicated hierarchy of fine-graained folders, it’s time to revamp. Simplicity comes effortlessness. There are many different methods to arrange files and folders on disk. Look over your files and determine if there are any that you no longer need or use. Archive them either to another folder or copy them to an external harddrive or CD. I’m sure that when you first got the PC, the folder structure may have seemed adequate but take a second look now and see if you can break up the files into folders that make sense to you. Don’t go too deep creating sub-folders. Make them simple and quick to get to.

  5. Empty Recycle bin

    The Recycle Bin keeps files that have been deleted, whether accidentally or intentionally. You can review the contents of the Recycle Bin before deleting the items permanently. It can be found on the desktop. The Icon typically looks like a small trash can. Double clicking it will bring up a window that will display all the files that have been deleted. One the left hand side you should see options to either empty the Recycle Bin or Restore a file. Choose to empty.

  6. Physically Clean your PC

    Dust and de-grime your PC and peripherals. Don't use household glass cleaner or any cleaner containing ammonia - on flat panel monitors. Use a cleaner made for them or a 50/50 solution of water and isopropyl - not rubbing - alcohol. Use a soft cloth, not a paper towel. Do not spray anything directly on the screen - spray it on the cloth. Dust your keyboard with compressed air - ease out stubborn dust between the keys with a cotton swab - and clean the surface. You can use the same mixture you used to clean your monitor.

  7. Sort out Email

    If read and process your email through your internet browser, this step is not for you. On the otherhand. If you use an email program like Outlook, Outlook express, or Eudora, then go in and remove email that no longer applies. Use the same rules that we discussed earlier concerning files and folders. Cleaning up your email should help speed things up there too!

  8. Clean Up Internet Browsers

    Internet Explorer and Firefox use a method call caching that essentially places copies of web pages and images on your system in order to enhance the user experience while surfing the web. Unfortunately, they do this too well. While some web pages you visit may have images and logos that never change, the content typically does. That means that every time you go to say or New images and text, and pages are being added to your system. All the time, everytime. This cache can end up being tremendous. Perform the following for either Firefox or Internet Explorer. The next time you surf the web, you might notice a slight performance hit but it will only be for web pages you visit for the first time.

    Clean out brower cache and cookies.

            Tools->Clear Private Data.
        Internet Explorer 7
            Tools->Delete Browsing History.

  9. Run Spyware and Antivirus

    Part of the cleaning process is to make sure that you scan your PC for viruses. Make sure that your Spyware and Antivirus programs are to date. Scan your system. This should be down either daily or at least weekly.

  10. Defrag the hard drive.

    Finally, no good clean up goes without your hard drive being defragmented. What does this mean you say? Have you ever admired a librarian in your local public library who, when asked where to find an exotic book, leads you directly toward the appropriate shelf and points the book out for you? That's because librarians keep their books in perfect order. A computer doesn't behave this way. When it's saving data, it stuffs bits and pieces of the file wherever it finds an open spot on your hard drive. Sometimes it cuts up the file and places the fragments in different locations. When you want to open the file later on, the hard drive has to look all over the place and assemble it. This can take time. That's why there is a tool called a defragmenter. It tidies the hard drive up, finding the individual fragments, rearranging the hard drive's space, and putting the individual fragments where they belong. Defragmenting takes time, so if you choose to run this routine, you might as well go and do the dishes, and vacuum, and clean your cat's litter box, and watch your favorite television show. When you come back, your computer will run faster. Here’s what you do

    Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
    A window should appear on the desktop.
    Select a drive and click defrag.

Great!! Your PC should now run better! Which means you now have more time... How about coming over and helping me with my garage..