Apparently, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month! We’re not sure that this is a task that requires a whole month to be dedicated to it, but a day, an afternoon or even a few hours doing this somewhat monotonous task is time well spent.

If you work in animal related industries, we know that you’re likely to be extremely busy and that cleaning up your computer’s hard drive might seem like the last thing you have time for. But properly backing up and organising your computer files could actually save you a lot of time – especially if your Mac or PC ever decides to have a meltdown. So, in observance of National Clean Up Your Computer Month, our IT department has shared some simple steps to get your computer operating at its best.

Run a complete backup

Before you start deleting files, it’s a good idea to back up your system as it currently exists. If you’re lucky enough to have a proactive IT department, they will be able to do that for you. If not, many backup programs allow you to easily create a mirror of your hard drive on an alternative disk. If you choose not to perform a complete backup, at minimum back up important personal and work files – ones that you just cannot afford to lose.

Organise your documents

It’s common to give files names that aren’t recognisable to documents and leave folders as ‘untitled’ or ‘new folder’, especially when in a hurry. This can make it extremely difficult to find files when you need them again and cause much frustration and time loss trying to find them! Instead, implement a logical naming and archiving system that works for you and the company you work for. Clean things up and be disciplined about using a proper naming convention in the future

Delete what you don’t need

As you’re going through files, ask yourself whether you really need them. If there’s no chance that you’re ever going to use something again, delete it. Or at minimum archive it to an external back up drive or cloud-based location. Similarly, uninstall any programs you don’t use. Many programs are very resource heavy and both take up much space on your hard drive, whilst also slowing your computer down. Similarly, deleting cookies and temporary files should give you a larger amount of available hard drive space, resulting in a faster PC.

When you’ve finished your deleting spree, remember to empty your recycle bin! Just because you’ve deleted something, doesn’t mean that it’s gone – it’s more than likely just moved to the bin. This is a convenient failsafe from permanently deleting files that you need, but if you don’t periodically empty your computer’s bin, the files will begin to build up and eventually effect your computer’s overall performance.

Physically clean your computer

You might not realise it, but the environment surrounding your computer can have a major impact on its performance. Computers produce a lot of heat and to combat that heat, your computer has several small fans built into it that take cooler air from around the computer and cycle it through it to cool it down. As such, if you have any dust, dirt, or grime around your computer, chances are that it too is being sucked into your computer by the fans.

Institute order online

Finally, institute some order online. The Internet is infinite and can seem unwieldy and staying on top of all of our websites and online accounts will help us run more efficiently and with less stress, whatever about our computers! Make sure your bookmarks are in order by making any site additions and deletions that reflect your current browsing habits. And in managing online accounts and passwords, employ a password manager like Keychain (for Macs) or Windows Live ID (for PCs). This is not only far more secure, but it also will save you time and energy in trying to remember which password you used where, or in having to continually reset passwords you forget!

Follow these simple steps and you’ll have a faster, more efficient computer to help speed up your days!