You’ve heard many times that your computers need maintenance. And it makes sense, right? After all, computers are machines and they must need some kind of maintenance to keep them running smoothly. But what does that maintenance consist of? The four most important things to keep your computer in good shape are: one, perform a PC cleanup; two, install antivirus; three, do software updates; and four, back up your files. Here, we will explore number one: PC Cleanup. When we talk about cleaning a computer, we mean both physical and digital cleaning.
Physical cleaning– Computers collect dust and debris just like any other stationary item. After time, that dust and debris greatly affect the performance of your computer. Effective cleaning of a PC requires both external and internal cleaning. It is not enough to dust a computer from the outside. After removing dust from the outside, you need to open up the computer and also dust the inside. Using compressed gas is an easy and efficient way of removing filth. All you need to do is unscrew the back cover and remove the layer of dust that has collected. The parts in your computer will be able to dissipate heat and cool off much easier without that layer of grime; therefore, the performance of your computer will improve.
Digital cleaning– Today’s computers come with what some call “bloatware”, which is unnecessary software. If you take a look at your Windows tray, you may see a long row of little icons. Many times, you don’t need or use many of those apps. Also, over time, you collect many small programs such as add-ons, plug-ins, and extensions that clutter your precious disk space. Many times, you may not even know that you are installing extra apps because they come hidden with software you download. There are several steps in the digital cleaning journey:
- The first step is making sure the computer is not overly burdened at start-up by expendable items. These items can be disabled by typing “msconfig” in the windows search button and clicking on the Start Up tab. You will see which programs start-up on their own when you turn on your computer. You can select the ones you don’t use daily and therefore can manually turn on when you need them. It goes without saying that you don’t want to disable programs that are used on a daily basis. If you are unsure about what a program is or does, you can do a little web search before disabling any programs you are unsure of. It is important to note that disabling a start up item does NOT uninstall it from your computer. It simply prevents it from automatically starting up when you boot your computer.
- Uninstalling programs is the next step to digitally cleaning your computer. In order to uninstall programs, go to the control panel and click on “Programs and Features”. You will see the whole list of programs installed. Click the ones you do not use and then click on “uninstall”. Again, make sure you only uninstall programs that you never use. If you accidentally uninstall a needed program, you will have to re-install it.
- The third and last step to digitally clean your computer is to do a disk cleanup. Cleaning a disk is like throwing away old papers, post-its, and notes that clutter your desk. A disk cleanup will delete temporary files to free up space. Windows comes with its own tool for disk cleanup. You can find it under “programs” and then “accessories” and then “system tools” for Windows 7. For Windows 8/10, you can simply type “disk cleanup” in the Windows search button and click on the option that allows you to delete unnecessary files. A window will pop up with a small description of the “unnecessary files”. You have the option of checking or un-checking any files you want. There are also free programs that will do all of the digital cleaning for you. CCleaner is the most well known software. You can download it for free and program it to do routine cleaning on your computer.
Routinely cleaning your PC both physically and digitally will extend the life of your PC. It will save you money in the long run, since you are less likely to have system failures and hardware breakdown. If you would like a more comprehensive and thorough step by step guide to cleaning your PC, we recommend reading How-to-Geek’s “PC Maintenance for beginners”. And, if you don’t have time to DIY, you can always count on Backstage PC. Our techs are always ready to help you with all your computer needs!