Buttoned Up: Spring clean your computer
Spring cleaning isn't just for homes. It's for computers, too.
Nonsense, you say? Consider this: If you're like most adults, you spend about one-third of your awake hours, or five hours a day, behind a computer screen. If your machine is bogged down and running at a fraction of its potential speed, what is that doing to your productivity, not to mention your sanity? Answer: torpedoing it.
A 20 percent slower processing speed can cost you an hour of productive work. That adds up quickly. In addition, dirt and grime can significantly reduce the life of your machine, essentially draining your pocketbook.
So, this year, after you've dusted the blinds and scrubbed the floors, do yourself a favor and give the computer the full spring-cleaning treatment, too.
Here are five things that need to be done:
Get rid of dust and grime
Dust inside your computer can lead to component failure, fan failure and slow performance. Dust, fingerprints and dirt on monitors make them dim and fuzzy. To combat, get a dust-busting kit. Staples has a good combo kit with compressed air and monitor wipes. Turn off your computer and unplug all peripherals. Follow this step-by-step video (Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BovgvppZX4k&feature=player_embedded) to blow out all of the dust inside your computer and on your keyboard. Close your computer back up. Then use the wipes to de-gunk your monitor.
Detoxify your keyboard
Gross-out alert: Your keyboard has more bacteria and germs on it than a toilet seat. That's horrifying when you think about how much time your fingers spend typing away. Grab some rubbing alcohol and cotton buds, and a lint-free cloth. Put a little alcohol on the cotton buds and cloth, then clean the sides of the keys with the bud, and the tops with a dampened cloth. Give your mouse a thorough wipe-down as well.
Delete temporary files and unused programs
Anything taking up space, no matter how small, is going to contribute to a slower computer. Go through your folders and applications and delete ones that you no longer use. If you are afraid to delete anything, you can purchase an inexpensive but decently sized external zip drive to store items on. Of course, we recommend simply deleting the items because your usage of files and applications over the previous six to 12 months is a highly accurate predictor of your future need for them.
Declutter that desktop
Can you even see the background picture on your monitor? Everyone has been guilty of saving files to the desktop for easy access at one time or another. But have you noticed that they tend to stay there? Rarely do we ever take the time to find those files a more permanent home. Set your egg timer for 20 minutes, and remove shortcuts and files that are no longer "active" or useful from your desktop.
Back up your files
The time to back up files is now, not when you desperately need to recover some data. Back up files, and while you are at it, conduct an emergency restore of the data. A little emergency planning now could save you time, money and, most importantly, gray hairs.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to email@example.com.