National Clean Out Your Computer Day is observed on the second Monday in February. It is a day to remind you to perform some care on your computer. It serves as a reminder that you need to clean out your computer on the inside and the outside! When was the last time you cleaned out your fans and dusted off your motherboard? A clean computer is a healthy computer and a happy computer is a well-behaved computer.
Physically Clean Your Computer
Every once in a while you should get rid of all that dust that builds up. You’ll want to use a can of compressed air to gently blow the dust off of the vents, fans, and other components. Do not use a vacuum. You should give your computer a thorough dusting every six months or so. If you have a pet or if you are a smoker, you may want to clean your computer every three months.
You also need to open your computer and clean out all of the dust and grime that’s inside. Dust traps heat and computers really don’t function well under high stress and heat. Make sure that your system is powered down and disconnected and then find a good online tutorial to show you the way to get it done safely. You should take great care when cleaning your hardware. You can do it yourself, as long as you have the right tools and follow the correct methods. But if you don’t trust yourself, we can do it for you.
Clean Out and Organize Your Files and Folders
Delete junk files. As junk data builds up, your computer can become slower and less responsive.
Delete duplicate files. Who needs them?
Delete old files and programs not being used. This will give you more room.
Clutter gets in your way—navigating a desktop filled with dozens of random documents is much more frustrating than having your desktop or documents folder organized in folders by subject.
Back when, you were advised to reboot your computer every day. That’s not necessary anymore, but many people take things to the opposite extreme. If you rarely shut your computer down, the computer’s operating system never gets a chance to “flush out” the temporary data that builds up while it goes about its business. Your computer could experience more frequent freezes and crashes because there’s too much junk for your operating system to trudge through. You don’t have to shut your computer all the way down every night—but once a week would do just fine to keep your operating system running smoothly.
You should also periodically clear your Internet cache. As you surf the web, your browser downloads items from websites you visit often so that they load faster the next time you visit them. Of course, this data goes to your computer, and as it piles up, it can slow your computer down.
Protect Your Computer
You need a good antivirus program to protect your computer against threats. Your antivirus program downloads a list of virus definitions, which it uses to identify and block viruses on sight. As long as your antivirus program is active and running, it’s protecting your computer. Every once in a while, you should run a full system scan with your antivirus software of choice, just to make sure nothing has slipped by. Your antivirus program can protect you from most viruses, but not all of them. For example, it can’t block out malware it doesn’t know about. New viruses are being created all the time!
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Defragment Your Disk
The hard drive in your computer stores all of your data on spinning disks. These disks spin at thousands of revolutions per minute. Meanwhile, the read/write heads whip around, sending electromagnetic signals to the platters to change the magnetic field of tiny portions of the disks. This is how your computer reads and writes data. Over time, the data that makes up the files you create end up farther and farther away from each other on the disk platters. This means that in order to read a file, the heads have to find one block, then wait for the disk to rotate a bit more before it can find the other block. As the data on your drive becomes more and more fragmented, your computer can become noticeably slower.
For your Windows PC, any modern version of Windows (Windows 7 and up) schedules its own time to defragment your disk—typically when your computer is idle. If you have a habit of not leaving your computer idling very often, Windows might not have time to defragment your hard drive. Therefore, you should check and run Windows disk defragmentation yourself every once in a while.
Do You Need to Defragment Your Solid State Drive (SSD)?
Data fragmentation is only a problem with spinning disk media. If your PC has a solid state drive, running defragmentation tools will actually harm the SSD and decrease its lifespan due to the way flash memory stores data. SSDs use something called TRIM instead to manage where the data lives inside them. Modern SSDs and modern Windows operating systems have TRIM enabled by default, so it’s nothing you need to worry about.