It is Spring Cleaning week here at Orion, and today we are going to cover organizing and cleaning out your computer’s files! In our last blog, we walked you through how to clean your computer and rid it of the dust and dirt that collect there during the year. The ritual of Spring Cleaning is a great way to organize your home or office and discard of things you no longer use or need.
Let’s look at some statistics that can illustrate the importance of organizing your computer:
- The average American adult has roughly 1,800 digital files. (SOURCE)
- 80% of the information we archive and keep is never needed again. (SOURCE)
- Americans waste nine million hours per day searching for misplaced items (SOURCE)
- One of the most often cited PC frustrations is a computer that runs slow. (SOURCE)
As shocking as those statistics may be, organizing a computer is still somehow left out of major IT goals. In fact, 69% percent of IT directors in one study say that they do not believe computer clean out to be a priority.
Why is organizing one’s computer so often overlooked? Well, admittedly, it can be daunting task. Especially if it has been a while since you last organized your computer system.
So, we have offered you 8 tips for organizing your computer in an effort to help you keep a clean and organized workspace.
Tip 1: Set Your Organizational Strategy
Treat the task of organizing your computer as you would any other kind of project. From the get-go, make sure you have some sort of plan in place for your files. Your computing experience could easily seem hindered if you are spending a lot of time clicking through endless subfolders or waiting for search to retrieve files. Before attempting to relocate or remove files while organizing your computer, make sure you have a clear strategy for your new organizational system. Map out an intuitive filing system for your documents that makes them easier for you to locate. Consider what items you need on a regular basis and what context your going to be thinking about when looking for different types of files.
HINT: Don’t go sub-folder crazy. This makes the computer work harder. Modern search capabilities are so much powerful than they were as few as 5 years ago, that this is really unnecessary. Focus on setting up logical information buckets with consistent nomenclature. Use this increased search capability and alleviate yourself from the endless folder tree organization system.
Tip 2: Tidy up Your Desktop
Your desktop is often a good indication of the overall organization of your computer. If your desktop is littered with shortcuts, duplicate files, or screenshots, deleting those files is a good first step to take. Ideally, your desktop should not be a permanent location for any file. While you are organizing your computer, place the files that you do wish to keep into your documents folder or other appropriate location. This has two benefits. The first is that it makes your screen much easier to navigate as real estate has been freed from where the excess items used to be. The second benefit of organizing your computer’s desktop is that it will take much less time for your system to boot up, since it won’t have to refresh a large number of icons.
Tip 3: Clean Out Unnecessary or Duplicate Files
Over time, all computers tend to amass all kinds of documents and files on work computers. From different versions of a report that was edited numerous times via email to write-ups and proposals that are no longer valid, they accumulate exponentially. When organizing your computer you will definitely find quite a few of these files. Make sure the one that needs to be kept are placed in the new filing system and the ones that are just taking up space are moved to the recycling bin.
Deciding which files are dispensable when organizing your computer doesn’t have to be daunting, and often times a large number of files are easily recognizable as candidates for removal. Some of these common file types are:
- Files from projects that have been completed a while
- The “Downloads” folder
- Any silly email forwards or pictures
See our blog post about files that should be backed up as an additional guideline to what you should not throw away.
Tip 4: Clean Up Your Browser
Once you have finished organizing your computer’s files and cleaning out your cache and browsing history. It is important that this is done regularly because in addition to making your browser operate quicker, it can also improve the security of your browser. It might also be a good idea to clear out your cookies. Once this has been accomplished, you should take a few minutes to organize your bookmarks and favorites in a way that makes them easier for you to find.
Tip 5: Get Rid of Unused or Redundant Programs
Chances are you don’t use all of the programs installed on your computer. These unused applications take up room on your hard drive that could be used to support the software you are trying to regularly use. Go through your application’s folder and get rid of applications that aren’t needed or that came preinstalled and you have never used.
Hint: If you don’t know what an application does, find out before you delete it. This may seem like common sense, but you don’t know what support systems your various applications need.
Tip 6: Scan for Viruses
If you don’t already have some sort of virus protection on your computer, you really should consider getting one. Many companies offer free versions of anti-virus for personal computers. Most PC’s have some sort of anti-malware that scans your computer every time you boot up. But as you are organizing your computer, it is important that you run a deeper system scan to ensure everything is in order. There are many systems that can do this for you. They act as a sort of “car detailing service” for your computer. They dive deeper and find viruses or other concerns that are easily missed by the broader programs.
Step 7: Update Your Software
It is very easy to get behind on your updates and patches. This is why we strongly recommend letting an expert like Orion’s Managed Services team take care of this burden for you. Software companies usually release updates that help older versions of their products defend against newly discovered threats in order to keep them protected.
Make sure that you have all of the most up-to-date versions of your software. If there are some that need to be updated, this could take some time. Make sure you allow for enough time for the computer to fully update.
Step 8: Backup Your Data
At this point in the process of organizing your computer, you have decided which documents are important to keep, and they are correctly organized in the system. Now for a very important step. Make sure you take the time to do a backup of your computer. In our post about which files you should backup on your computer, we cover some of the important documents that you should take special attention to.
Step 9: Protect Your Progress
Once you have completed organizing your computer, it is worth taking a few extra minutes to ensure that your system will stay organized for as long as possible. Ensure that any new virus protection scanners or software updates are set to run automatically. Try to set a regular backup process on your computer as well, so that your information is as up-to-date as possible. Many cloud back-up services will do this for you automatically.
Once you have completed all these items, you have finished organizing your computer! Your newly optimized system will run faster and more efficiency. This will not only save you headaches and time spent searching for information, but it will also increase the life span of your machine. Feel free to enjoy the increased performance of your computer.