National Clean Up Your Computer Month: 8 Tips for Cleaning Your Computer

Whether you’re a professional programmer or someone who uses the computer to check your Facebook feed and e-mail, there is nothing quite like that feeling you get when you turn on a new computer for the first time and experience its raw power. It’s the kind of feeling that makes you stop and think “wow, I didn’t know a computer could run this fast!”

However, that feeling is typically felt for only the short term as it begins to slow down more and more as you start to install new programs, continually browse the internet, and download your favorite music and movies. Inevitably, you end up frustrated at the amount of time it takes for the computer to start, your programs to open, or your websites to load – leading you right back to the place you were when you decided to get a new computer in the first place.

Before you decide to open up your wallet and dish out your hard earned cash on a new computer, consider the following tips to cleaning up your computer and making it run faster. As a note of precaution, it’s always a good idea to back up any important files before beginning to clean up your computer.

  1. Uninstall programs you don’t use

This seems pretty self-explanatory right? Much like how you might go on a spring cleaning binge and toss out or donate everything that’s been gathering a layer of dust in your attic for the last decade, the same can be done on your computer. Maybe you have a bunch of old work documents that are no longer relevant or a game that you don’t play any more – getting rid of these unused programs will help you free up space on your hard drive, make the important things easier to find, and can help increase your computer’s speed.

Also, you may not have even known this, but most new computers come with programs installed that you may never use. Identifying those programs and deleting them when you first get the computer can give you an immediate bump in performance.

  1. Delete cookies and temporary files

Temporary files get stored on your computer through everyday tasks, such as reading your email, and get stored on your hard drive. This takes up space and can affect your computer’s overall performance. Deleting this temporary files – including your internet search history and cookies, should give you a larger amount of available hard drive space, resulting in a faster PC.

To delete your temporary files, open “My Computer,” usually on either your Start menu or on your Desktop. Click on your local drive – usually listed as C:\ – and select the “Windows” folder and open the folder titled “Temp.” Delete these files to remove your temporary files.

  1. Prevent unnecessary programs from starting up

If your computer is taking a long time to start up, there’s a good chance that one of the problems is that the computer is trying to start too many programs when it’s first turned on – you might not have even known that this was happening! However, this is a really easy fix. First, you need to click on the Start menu and type “msconfig” in your search bar. This will bring up your “System Configuration” window.

If you click on the “Startup” tab, you’ll see a long list of programs with a checked box to their left. Simply uncheck the boxes next to the programs you don’t want running when you first start your computer.

  • Install a second hard drive
  • Sometimes you have a lot of files that you just can’t separate yourself from. Files that take up a lot of space on your hard drive. Well, if you can’t get rid of the files, you could install a second hard drive. This would not only give you more room, by moving your files to this new hard drive, you free up space on the original hard drive, which will help improve performance.

    1. Install more RAM

    On the same note, computers run on Random Access Memory (RAM) and certain programs require more RAM than others. If your computer is a bit older and you find that some of your newer programs are not running as well as they should, try installing more RAM to help with the workload.

    1. Run a disk defragment

    A disk defragment is just a fancy term for changing how your hard drive stores the files written to it in order to optimize efficiency. To run a disk defragmentation, simply go to “My Computer,” and right click on the hard drive you want defragmented, and click “properties.” In the new window, you should see a tab titled “Tools.” Under the Tools tab you should see a button that says “Defragment Now.” Click it and your computer will begin the defragmentation process.

    1. Empty your recycle bin

    Once you delete something it’s gone, right? Well, no. Not exactly. When you delete a file from your computer it goes to the “Recycle Bin,” which is located on your desktop. This depository of old, unwanted files is a convenient failsafe from permanently deleting files that you need. If you delete something that you didn’t mean to, you can go to your recycle bin and recover it. However, just like the recycle bin at your home, if you don’t periodically empty your computer’s bin, the files will begin to build up and eventually effect your computer’s overall performance.

    To empty your recycle bin, simply right click on the bin’s icon on the desktop and click “Empty Recycle Bin.” You’ll be prompted as to whether or not you actually want to permanently delete these files. By clicking “Yes,” your computer will get rid of these unwanted files for good, cleaning up space on your computer.

    1. Physically clean your computer

    You might not realize it, but the environment surrounding your computer can have a major impact on its performance. Computers produce a lot of heat. To combat that heat, your computer has several small fans built into it that take cooler air from around the computer and cycles it through it to cool it down. As such, if you have any dust, dirt, or grime around your computer, chances are that it too is being sucked into your computer by the fans.

    You may be asking yourself, how is dust dangerous to my computer? Well, for starters, if enough dust gets built up in your computer it can actually clog the fans, making them inefficient or dysfunctional. Additionally, excessive amounts of dust can actually act as an insulator, retaining heat inside of the computer, rather than ventilating it out.

    Follow these simple steps and you’ll have a computer that runs like new in no time!

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