Spring Cleaning Tips

Did you know your computers could use a good Spring cleaning too?

*NOTE* Create a Restore point before doing anything just in case you need to go back.

* Remove all programs that you don't use and aren't needed for your computer to run. Use the Remove Program feature of Windows.

* Backup important data onto DVDS and store safely. Pictures and videos especially take up a lot of hard drive space. If you can back up onto DVDs and clearly label them and store them, you might feel comfortable removing them from your hard drive altogether to free up space. I have multiple external hard drives and I backup onto them. Then, at the end of the year, I will put the year's pictures of each person onto a DVD to give them. For instance, through the year, I keep folders for each person and drop copies of the photos into their folder. Our Grandnephew, Brett Robert, gets a 2010 folder and copies of all his photos are placed in that folder throughout the year. At the end of the year I will make a backup of that folder on a DVD and give to his mother. BUT throughout the year I make backups of everything on my computers to the external hard drives. Hard drives are mechanical devices and it's just a matter of time before they will crash and you lose everything on them. So BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP

* In Internet Explorer (browser) go to Tools, Internet Options and select the Delete button. You want to delete all temporary files.

* Once you've removed old programs and backed up data, you are ready to defragment your hard drive. This should help speed things up. Go to your "Help And Support" and look for the defragmenter. Once it gets started, it can take a long time if you haven't done it in awhile. I have mine set up to do every week so it doesn't take so long.

* Now you are ready to set up an organized file system on your computer. Within the My Documents folder, create folders that help you keep everything organized. I have a Pictures folder but within that folder I have folders for each person and yearly sub folders. I don't just dump everything in My Documents because I have over 70,000 photos alone and I would never be able to find what I'm looking for having to sift through all those files. That would be like having a room in your house and you just threw everything in and walked away. Think what a mess it would be to find anything! If you haven't done this before, it's going to take some time to move everything to the right folders but it's well worth the time.

* Take a photo of the wiring on the back of the computer. If you feel comfortable with taking the back off your desktop computer, remove the casing or back and gently vacuum out the dust. You would be amazed at how dusty electronics can be. It's usually a simple enough procedure to take the back off. It may just clip on and off or have some easy thumb screws. Once you've vacuumed it out, put the casing back on and wipe down your computer with a damp rag. Clean the keyboard with said damp rag. If it's really bad, you can replace it or try turning it upside down and using the sprayer on your kitchen sink and gently spray plain water on it. Leave it upside down on a towel to dry. Clean your mouse. Wipe down your monitor with plain damp rag. Be sure to clean underneath all your equipment and then you are ready to attach your cables and plug it back up. Use the photo to help you put things back in the right position.

* It's always a good idea to label your cables and label them on both ends. For instance: "Cable modem wall end", "Cable modem, modem end", "Printer", "Printer computer end", etc. Try to organize your cables as much as you can and then try to hide them as much as possible.

Now your computer is in good shape for the year!