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January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month

January is the start of a new year and many people choose a New Year's resolution “to get organized” and your computer is a great place to start! Start with these simple tasks to know where everything is and you can remove all of those unnecessary files taking up space and possibly slowing down your machine.

BACK IT UP

Before you start the process, it is generally a good idea to back up your data first. If something goes wrong, you can start over.  You can back up to an external hard drive or you can back up to the cloud.  The cloud has become safer, more secure, and more reliable than ever before and eliminates the risk of hardware failure that can sometimes be an issue with an external hard drive. Once you’ve backed up, you’re ready to move forward.

PHOTOS

We all take a lot of pictures (dogs, kids, pretty skies, and for those who choose - selfies!).  Photos take up a lot of space on your phone and your computer and often times when shared from one to the other they end up with names that make no sense at all (DC00001 sound familiar?). It takes some time to go through your photos, but it can be fun.  You can start by deleting those bad, blurry and 'who knows what this is' kinds of photos.  Just by doing that, you can clear out a lot of space pretty quickly.  This is also a great time to rename the photos and sort them into folders that are easy to search.  Send cherished photos to a print gallery and share them with family and friends!

FILES

Going through old documents might be more challenging. There will be files that you know right away that you can get rid of, but there also might be files that you don’t know about, especially documents that might be digital copies of hard paper documents; usually the same rules will apply for both. For example, if you have a digital copy of your tax returns the generally agreed safe period of time before you can destroy is seven years.  If you are keeping records like this on your computer, to make sure you have safe backup files. Organizing your files, and making sure that they have proper identification will help you find your files more quickly, and make sure that the files you have are the files that you actually need.

PROGRAMS AND DOWNLOADS

Once your files are named and organized, going through the programs and downloads that are on your computer and your smart phone is a good process. Look for programs that you don’t use and downloads that are no longer necessary to keep. Downloads can usually go straight into the trash, but make sure to remove unused programs by correctly uninstalling them. Deleting them doesn’t uninstall and leaves the program on your computer to take up space without any way to alter or remove it because the operating file is gone. It makes things more complicated, so uninstall properly!  De-cluttering is one way to free up space on your computer and keep the machine performing like it should.

EMAIL

Creating different files for work, friends, family and personal will help you sort all those incoming messages so they can be dealt with in a timely manner.   Go through your inbox and delete old emails that no longer require attention. Review all of the email lists you are on and unsubscribe from lists that you are no longer interested in.  Often, that is a great way to cut down on the daily clutter and keep your inbox clean and usable.

ONLINE

Your Internet settings and bookmarks are more areas you can organize. Go through your settings and delete old saved usernames and passwords. Delete your cookies and history; organizing the bookmarks toolbar makes going to frequently used sites easier and frees up space by deleting unused bookmarks. Make sure your Facebook and other social media accounts are updated and always check your security settings. Now would be a great time to change your social media passwords!

HARDWARE

Finally, if you have old machines lying around (laptops, computers, tablets and phones), make sure that you dispose of them properly. The hard drives in these old machines need to be shredded to protect against identity theft. Recycling will also keep the environment healthier because it keeps the harmful components of computers out of landfills, and actually helps recover materials for reuse.

Cleaning out your computer keeps your life more organized and secure. It makes your machine more efficient and makes sure that there is room for what you need. It’s a great way to start a new year off on the right foot, and tackle that “Get Organized” Resolution.

If your company needs help, consider our Stress Free IT Managed Services.  Call (937) 535-4300 for more information!