Clean Your PCYou know it’s time to clean your PC when there are so many files strewn randomly across your drive that it takes you an hour to find that file you just downloaded yesterday, that vacation picture you wanted to show your friend, or your résumé to apply for a new job. Just like you take time to really deep clean your home every few months, you need to take time to deep clean your PC and put everything in its place. While I cannot stand cleaning in the real world, my computer is oddly uncluttered and organized. Some people enjoy folding laundry or washing dishes. I don’t understand that, but I love organizing my computer! These tips will hopefully make it easy to deep clean your PC once and for all. Then you just have to do routine maintenance to keep it that way.

Tips to Clean Your PC and Get Control of Your Digital Life

1. Start with a spyware sweep to get rid of junk that could be bogging down your system. I’ve always used the  Spybot Search and Destroy free edition and it’s done a pretty good job. Run the program to search for spyware and adware, and then remove it with one click. Make sure you back up your registry and all that good stuff first.

2. Go through your Programs manager in Control Panel and get rid of anything you’re not using. Chances are you’ve installed games that you no longer play, programs that you used once and didn’t like, and other junk that is just taking up space. Really think about the programs as you go down the list. With a heavy heart, I finally removed all the Sims 2 games and expansion packs from my PC because I haven’t played it in two years and the disk is still packed from when we last moved.

3. Clean your PC like you clean your closet. If you haven’t used it in a year, dump it, unless it’s a picture that you want to keep or an important document that you need to hold on to. I got rid of novels that I started, got two pages into, and decided I just wasn’t feeling it. To me, those files are like that great sweater that I swear I’ll wear someday but really haven’t found a purpose for yet.

4. Dump the dupes. When I copy pictures to my hard drive, I also create a subfolder called “resized” in every main folder. That’s where I store the pics that I want to post to Facebook or some similar site. Once a month, I go through and get rid of all those resized copies. I suggest also going through your music collection and looking for duplicates with different names.

5. Organize your pictures and other files in a way that makes sense to you. There are probably thousands of photo organizing programs out there, but in my opinion, nothing works better than just organizing them into folders that make sense. I have a “Jacob” folder, then inside that it’s organized by year, then inside those by month. I can find a certain picture of him in under two minutes, and I have 8,000 pictures from the last 7 years. Find a system that works for you and stick to it.

6. Dump the recycling bin. Now that you’ve had a chance to really clean your PC, don’t forget to take out the trash! Empty your recycling bin to clear out all that junk once and for all.

7. Run the  Disk Cleaner utility that comes with Windows. Just right-click on your hard drive, go to Properties, and click the Disk Cleanup button. This will get rid of all those old temp files sitting around, along with some other junk.

8. Install updates to Windows and other programs. Okay, so this really isn’t a task that helps you clean your PC, but since you’re already working on maintenance, why not make sure all your programs are up to date? Think of it this way, those updates often patch up security flaws. Security flaws allow malware and spyware to get onto your computer. Doing this step makes step 1 a lot easier in the future.

 Do you have any tips to make it easier to clean your PC and keep everything organized?

Photo Credit: Blank Monitor by Petr Kratochvil, customized by me.