Today is my day. First, I love corny, little known holidays. Secondly, I am a neat freak! And now they both come together because today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day!
Yes, indeed, it is a real thing. On the second Monday in February, we are reminded to take some time to show a little love to our computers… and really any other technology devices that need it. Now, before you start rolling your eyes, think about the device you are reading this post on. How critical is your computer or laptop is to your work? Doesn’t it make sense to keep it in top working order?
Over time, and especially with the heavy use of today’s modern office user, technology tends to slow down – just like many of us! Desktops become cluttered, email boxes overflow, and duplicate file versions wreak havoc. Downloaded files and outdated programs take up valuable space and can impact both performance and security.
It’s not just the processing power of your system that takes a hit. A cluttered device directly impacts your efficiency and ability to get work done. It’s easier to work in a clean environment instead of wading through irrelevant files or messages. If your system is organized, you can work faster.
Furthermore, old or unpatched programs can pose a real security risk to your business. That program you might have downloaded to test out six months ago is still there in the background if you never uninstalled it. Just because you’re not using something anymore doesn’t mean that it’s not still there – possibly opening a new way for malware and viruses to enter.
If you’re a Daystar managed IT services client, we take care of your ongoing backups, virus scanning, and software patches. These are critical actions that must occur continuously – not just on one day per year! In addition, our clients use our skilled Help Desk to uninstall old programs and to delete unused user accounts. Be sure your IT provider is doing the same. These are basic security tasks to protect your computer and business from cyber threats.
However, there are other, user-specific actions you can take to clean up your computer and keep it running in top shape.
National Clean Out Your Computer Day Actions
Physically clean your computer and workstation.
The most basic step is a good, old-fashioned cleaning! This is important not only for your computer, but also for your own well-being. In the thick of cold and flu season, it’s a good idea to thoroughly clean your keyboard, computer, and workstation. When your system is off, wipe everything down and use compressed air to blow out vents, fan, and your keyboard – especially if you happen to eat lunch at your desk! If you work in an industry prone to dust or debris – e.g. manufacturing, construction, animal services, etc. – you will want to do a physical cleaning more often.
Clean off your desktop.
This is one of those things we don’t like, but many people do it. Storing files on the desktop is not advisable for both security reasons and organizational best practices. Although it may seem easier to keep working documents on the desktop, they often remain there even when the work is finished. Today is a good day to clean it up, delete what you can, and file what you need.
Organize your files, folders, and programs.
Take time today (or this week) to organize your files and folders. If you find duplicate versions, delete one. If you find irrelevant files, delete it. Look for improvements in your folder structure – or create one if you haven’t already. Archive folders appropriately.
Check for programs you no longer use. If they are not company-mandated and you feel confident in your ability, uninstall them. If you need help uninstalling old software, ask your IT provider.
Check out your Downloads folder.
For many of us, opening up the Downloads folder is like a trip down memory lane. You might barely remember downloading that PDF two months ago, but your Downloads folder doesn’t! They keep a copy of your downloaded files even if you haven’t saved them. This can take up a tremendous amount of space! Take a close look through and delete anything you don’t need – or don’t remember!
Clean up your Inbox.
I know Inbox Zero is not easily obtained, or even desired, by all. Yet, I am guessing that there is room for improvement for most of our inboxes. Sort by the subject line to identify redundant email strings. Sort again by the From address to more efficiently triage and either file or delete mail no longer needed. Don’t forget to check out your spam and/or junk folder and clean those out at well.
If you’re really motivated, set up email filters to help triage future email and make sure your most important messages always rise to the top.
For more in-depth maintenance and upkeep, bring in a professional. However, this quick list should help you clean up your systems and make sure they are supporting you efficiently and performing at their best level.