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10 ways to spring clean your PC

Look around your house. If you’re like most of us, there’s bound to be plenty of bits in every room you don’t use any more, don’t need or don’t want.

Well it’s the same with your home computer. After time and plenty of use, it fills up with programs, files and electronic clutter that slows down the machine and can cause problems.

There’s no better time than the start of the year to give your PC a spring clean. Here’s 10 simple ways you can make a difference.

If you need further professional help, you could speak to the friendly computer experts at Comet On Call. See for more

Defragment your hard drive and run a disk clean-up

Your computer’s hard drive features a complex filing system. Every time you open a program or file, it isn’t always put back in the right place on the disk.

This can lead to slow performance and while Windows periodically sorts this out, there’s no harm in running a defragmentation yourself.

It might sound scary but all this does is put everything back in its rightful place in a single location, thus improving performance.

The built-in disk clean-up, which features in the Windows operating system, will also remove temporary and out-of-date files that clog up your system. Your virus software might also have the ability to do that too.

Run performance troubleshooter

Windows 7′s built-in Performance Troubleshooter is a good tool to use if your computer is sluggish. Go to the Control Panel, type ‘Troubleshooter’ into the search box and then under System and Security click Check for Performance Issues.

Remove unused applications

Most PCs come with software pre-installed that you will never need or use. Often these are free trials of programs. You might also have software already installed that you have no use for any more.

Uninstalling it frees up hard disk space and is a great way to cut the clutter.

Go to the Control Panel and click Uninstall Programs. You can then see exactly when you last used each item installed to guide what’s needed and what is not.

Clean your Internet browser

Over time, internet browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, will build up a lot of files, tracking cookies for websites, your surfing history and stored usernames, passwords and form information.

These can slow down web browsing, so it’s worth thinning them out from time to time.

Each browser will have its own way of doing this but you will usually find the built-in tool under Tools or Options.

Organise your desktop, folders and files

We all do it. Save everything to our desktop to make it easy to find. But this normally has the reverse effect by leaving icons all over the place.

The same is true of files and directories in your home folder such as Documents, Pictures and Video.

Try and create specific folders for specific tasks, like you would in a filing cabinet. Move as much from the desktop into these folders as possible, and group them together by file type, so have images in one and music tracks in another.

The Search in Windows 7 is very fast when you know what your file is called but understanding where you would have filed others you might not know the name of means you can head straight to it.

Stop programs starting at start-up

Many pieces of software, for example instant messengers, will load up as soon as your PC starts even if you don’t need them straight away. This can cause your computer to boot slowly.

You can change the settings in each of these programs so they don’t Start on Start-up. You should also always remember to exit fully any software you do not need again during the period you’re at the PC.

If they are allowed to run in the background, it may slow down other tasks you need to carry about by zapping memory that’s keeping the whole machine moving.

Clean your keyboard and mouse

You don’t really want to think about the number of germs residing on your keyboard and mouse, not to mention all the food bits that are probably stuck between the keys thanks to eating at your desk.

A can of compressed air will get rid of these. Tip the keyboard upside down to shake them out but be careful not to use too much force.

Wipe the keyboard with an anti-germ wipe and do the same with the mouse. You can also use a cotton bud to clean between all the grooves.

Use spyware and anti-virus software

If you haven’t already been running anti-virus and spyware prevention software, then you could have left yourself wide open to hackers and cyber criminals.

You might already have something nasty lurking on your system that could reveal your personal details, or send passwords and banking information to crooks.

Comet has a whole range of dedicated software for this purpose. Check it out at the following link.

Buy anti-virus software from Comet

Back-up your files

There is nothing more devastating than losing precious pictures, files, music and home videos if your hard drive crashes and cannot be repaired.

You might also suffer a problem if you get a virus on your hard drive, or even if your computer is stolen.

It is simple and easy to back-up. Just buy an external hard drive and drag across the files you want to keep copies of. You can even do it on a USB stick if you don’t have masses to save.

View Comet’s range of Data Storage devices here

There are also many online back-up services like Dropbox that keep all your files in what is known as The Cloud, a term used for online storage.

Clean the inside of your computer

If you are confident enough to open up your computer case, then use a can of compressed air to dislodge all the dust that collects on the internal fans and other parts over time.

This will ensure it runs cooler, performs better and lasts longer.

Never ever use a vacuum cleaner inside the computer, and avoid touching any components with your fingers.

Make sure the PC is turned off at the socket and the mains power lead is unplugged from the computer case. Be sure not to touch anything inside as even the slightest bit of static electricity from your fingers could cause problems to components.

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