Between desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, we spend a lot of time relying on our digital devices. Over time, computers of all shapes and sizes can become clogged and filthy, slowing their performance and making them more susceptible to problems. Fortunately, even the least tech-savvy of us can spring clean our computers to make them safer, easier to use, and smoother running!
Physically Cleaning Your Computer
A dirty computer may burn out components, lose sensitivity on contacts and be less enjoyable to use. To spring clean your computer:
- Clean the Keyboard: Use a can of compressed air to blast between keys and remove loose debris, and use a soft cleaning wipe or swab with a light cleaning solution to clean crevices.
- Sanitize the Mouse: Soak a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to clean the crack between buttons and creases around the mouse. If the mouse has a ball, remove it and clean it thoroughly, and wipe down the internal rollers so it moves smoothly.
- Dust-Proof the Monitor: Use a lint-free cleaning cloth on the monitor, then wipe it lightly with a weak vinegar solution to repel dust. To reduce eyestrain, consider lowering the screen’s brightness.
- Free the Fans: Over time, the fan that cools your computer will accumulate dust. Use compressed air to blow dust off (taking care not to blow it into the computer), or if you feel comfortable with a bit more labor, remove the outer case from your hard drive and gently wipe the fan.
- Dust the DVD Drive: Dust particles can scratch discs, making them less efficient or even destroying them. Use compressed air to gently puff dust out of the drive, and clean or buff your discs as needed.
- Dust the Case: The entire outer case of your computer should be thoroughly dusted. Use a sanitizing wipe on the power button and other switches, and be sure all ventilation slats and holes are clear.
- Organize Cables: Neaten your desk by organizing and bundling cables to avoid a spaghetti bowl appearance. Use small tags to label cords for easy reference.
- Unclutter Your Desk: Make your computer easier to access by uncluttering your desk, filing paperwork away and giving yourself plenty of room to work efficiently.
- Adjust Your Chair: Make your computer more comfortable to use by adjusting your chair height, recline position or other settings to avoid lower back pain or bad posture. This is especially critical the more hours you spend at your desk each day.
- Add Identification: Write down equipment serial numbers so your computer can be easier to recover in case of theft. At the same time, consider putting an identifying mark – a distinct scratch, a hard-to-remove sticker, etc. – just inside the computer case or in some other inconspicuous spot.
Digitally Cleaning Your Computer
Just because your computer may be spiffy clean doesn’t mean it will work like new. A few simple cleanup tasks can help organize your data and improve your computer’s operation for efficient performance.
- Delete Photos: If you take a ton of photos, many of them are probably blurry or just generally unusable. Delete those photos to free up memory quickly and easily.
- Uninstall Programs: Check for programs, games, and apps you no longer use, and uninstall them. For the most thorough option, use official uninstall tools rather than just deleting files.
- Update Drivers: Update the software that connects different devices, including printers, scanners, and other equipment, as well as service packs for the software you use most. Updates keep your computer more secure and ensure better performance.
- Update Antivirus Software: While you’re updating, don’t neglect your antivirus software and malware detectors. If possible, upgrade to premium packages, and program a scanning schedule is frequent enough to keep your computer protected.
- Disable Autostarts: Check programs that initialize when your computer boots up, and disable automatic starts for programs you don’t use frequently. The more your computer needs to start right away, the longer it takes to boot up.
- Clean Off the Desktop: If you use a lot of desktop shortcuts or screen notes, delete those that aren’t critical. Just like autostart programs, every piece your computer needs to load delays the boot cycle.
- Clean Your Browser: The more bookmarks or favorites you have, the shoddier your browser’s performance may be. Delete unnecessary and duplicate bookmarks, and clean the browser’s cache to keep it running smoothly.
- Defrag Your Drive: Run disk cleanup and defragmentation programs to reorganize your data into more efficient packages. If possible, set a regular schedule to run those programs to keep your computer running smoothly all year.
- Update Passwords: Update passwords to more secure options, and use a small notebook to keep a hard copy of each login and password for quick access if your computer crashes. Put that copy in a secure location away from your computer, such as in a safe.
- Reduce Your Social Media: Clean up how you use your computer by minimizing your social media presence. “Unfriend” people you aren’t really friends with, unsubscribe from unwanted email notifications or newsletters, and otherwise make the time you’re online more efficient.
No matter how tech-savvy you are or aren’t, it’s always possible to do simple things to spring clean your computer and keep it running its very best.