WHAT??? Don’t you mean early Valentine’s Day? Well, in a sense, it is. You are just gonna show some love to you COMPUTER!! I know this is a relatively new unofficial holiday, but it is still a good one. Most of us have become electronic hoarders due to the larger and more cost-effective storage capabilities that keep rolling out. But, there are still some ways that we can hoard things, yet be selective.
In January, I posted something here about cleaning out your computer for your New Year’s Resolution. Show of hands… how many of you did that? Yep, that’s what I thought. SO lets just refresh a few things that we all need to do at least once a year, and Clean Out Your Computer day is as good a time as any to do them. Because if you don’t, you run the risk of losing important files, clogging your hard drive, or slowing your computer.
1. Back up your data on a regular basis. Videos and photos take up the most space on your hard drive. And videos and photos are generally the first thing that can’t be saved if your hard drive crashes. Just like in years past, photos have great sentimental value, and when they are gone, they are gone. Digital or hardcopy, they are gone. Same thing with videos. Burning them to DVD works, but DVDs wear out. And unless you have things on an external hard drive, you may just be out of luck.
2. Delete unnecessary files and programs. How many of you have downloaded a program to test out, and then just left it on your machine? I am probably the world’s worst about that. Keep thinking “it is only 100 MB. I can spare the room.” That 100 MB here and there adds up, and quicker than you think. Why not just back up the installer and save it for later use. Odds are that if you did not like it enough to use it when you downloaded it, that you don’t really need to keep it. Not like a bad sweater that hangs around the closet long enough it might grow on you. Uninstall it, and save it off drive.
3. Find empty directories and remove them. Sounds like nothing, but when your computer goes on a search, it searches every folder on your drive. Again, it’s back to the closet analogy: if you have outgrown clothes, get rid of them. Saves you a ton of time trying to find something to wear. Likewise, getting rid of empty folders cuts down on search time. AND the irritation of seeing a folder with the name you are looking for only to realize you already emptied it somewhere else.
4. Defrag your hard drive. Sure, this takes some time. So do it a night while you are asleep. Do it while you go to lunch. Do it while you are at the gym. Just do it. It saves the system time from jumping all over the hard drive because there are gaps. Imagine trying to go somewhere and every time you come to a bridge there is a gap . You have to back track and find a way around. You can still get there. Just takes more time. So defrag at least once a year.
5. Clean out your registry. A simple process to do. When you uninstall a program, sometimes it leaves behind a little information in the registry. Which does not sound all that bad. But, depending on what it leaves behind, it could affect a new program that you install. It can also confuse the computer into thinking that the software is still installed, and cause it to do freaky things. WORD OF CAUTION: Always back up your registry just to have a backup copy in case something goes wrong, or you select the wrong options. And don’t go messing around and deleting or changing things in the registry unless you know exactly what you are doing…or have a sense of humor and don’t mind possibly wrecking your system!!
6. When uninstalling programs, please use the uninstaller that comes with it, or uninstall it from the control panel. Just deleting the folder removes some of it. but probably leaves a lot more.
7. And don’t forget to clean the outside of your computer as well. Cleaning the screen, the keyboard, any peripherals can sometimes make an older computer look like new. Will it process things like a new unit? Of course not. BUT, it will look good while it is processing things anyway.
So be sure to celebrate Clean Out Your Computer Day today. There are several very good products out there that can take some of the work out of performing these tasks. If you have not yet tried System Mechanic, it is worth your time. It comes in both a free and premium package. Take a day or so to download and try it. Like Bluto said on Animal House “Go ahead and take it. Don’t cost nothing.”