Organize Your Digital Life: End-of-Year Computer Clean Up

With the end of the calendar year quickly approaching, many businesses find that they want to start the new calendar year fresh and clean. There’s nothing better than a clean slate to kick off the new year. This “fresh start” may mean different things for different industries.  For instance, retail businesses may want to take inventory, remove overstock, or physically clean out the storefront. For healthcare workers, it may mean updating charts and taking stock of medical supplies. Commercial or industrial companies may want to determine what equipment is in need of repair or replacement. One thing that all industries have in common (unless they are from the stone age) is the need to start the new year with an organized and secure digital life. Practically every field of work depends, in some part, on computers and technology to keep their company running, successful, and secure. Let’s discuss some steps that your business may want to take to clean up physically and digitally the technology that is relied upon every day. 


Digital Cleaning 

Let’s start our process of cleaning things out with what’s going on in your computer. Depending upon what industry you work in and the type of work your company takes part in, your cleaning will differ drastically.  Many of you will want to organize your files, remove old programs, and update applications. Not only can this clean out your computer to appear more organized, but it can also mean a world of difference in the efficiency and speed of your computer or technology. Additionally, think about how much faster you will be if you know exactly where all of your files are located and how to access them each time a client calls or needs information. 


Part of your digital clean out should include searching for and removing old applications that you no longer need or that have not been updated in a while thus causing a security vulnerability.  Remove apps that you no longer use by opening Settings > Apps > Apps & Features to see the list of currently-installed applications on your PC. You can sort by name, size, or install date. We recommend sorting by size as well as by install date. Since your digital cleaning may be focused on efficiency, look at the largest programs you have installed that could be removed or updated to work faster and have the latest security features.

Clean Up Your Browser 

When you use a browser, like Chrome, it saves some information from websites in its cache and cookies. Clearing them fixes certain problems, like loading or formatting issues on sites. Those stored cookies can slow down your browsing experience.  Clearing your browser and cache at least once a year can protect your personal information as well as help applications run better on your computer.  To clear your browser in Chrome, click the three buttons in the top-right corner and click Settings. Click “Clear browsing data” and choose Cookies and other data and Cached images and files. Once you have chosen these two, click “Clear data.”

Clean Your Inbox

Ok - honestly, when was the last time you sorted your email into folders or deleted all the spam emails and advertisements you have in your email inbox? A few months? A Year?  Well, now is the time, while you’re cleaning everything up. Take some time to sort your email inbox into folders by sender, client, or project. Then get rid of everything you don’t need.  Ideally, it would be great to reach a zero email inbox. However, if that’s not possible, try removing the oldest email and work forward. Your inbox has a limited amount of space, so deleting old emails and their attachments can free up space for new messages. 

Clean the Download Folder 

Remember downloading those pictures or files for work?  No? Well, they are still sitting in your download folder taking up space. The downloads folder is really meant as a temporary space for downloaded files until they are moved to a more appropriate location – or deleted. Establishing a habit of organizing files as you download them can help reduce clutter. 

Update Virus Software 

It’s far too easy to ignore those update reminders that could mean the difference between updated security protocols or having a piece of technology that is at risk.  While you are at it, run a malware and virus scan for malicious items that could be sitting in your system for days and weeks collecting information and data. 

zoom teleconference

Physical Cleaning 

Once you have taken care of digitally cleaning your computer, it’s time to take a look at the physical condition of your hardware.  How dusty is your keyboard? How many finger smudges are on your monitor? Is there dust blocking the fan on your laptop?  Before you pick up any regular household cleaner or paper towels - stop. Turn off the monitor, and if you are on a laptop, shut it down.  To clean your monitor and keyboard use a soft microfiber cloth that will not leave fibers behind. Never spray liquid directly on your screen. Instead, moisten the cloth you’re using. Water usually can get most gunk, dust, and grime off the hardware.  Use canned air or a soft-bristled toothbrush to get rid of crumbs and debris that may have gotten into your keyboard. Most larger items stuck in there can be removed by merely turning your keyboard over and gently tapping on the back. If things are really bad you may need to consider taking off the keys and getting into those nooks and crannies. 

A Final Word 

It may seem like a task that would take too much time, but cleaning out your computer and desktop both physically and digitally can save you time in the long run. Once it is organized and all superfluous data (and dust) is removed your tech will run smoother as well as have the latest updates which can improve your security and give you peace of mind for the coming months.  Start the new year off right by taking a little bit of time out of your workday to get organized!