Spring Cleaning: Clean Your Hard Drive

Published On March 26, 2013 | Electronics

Spring is a time of refreshment and rebirth in the world around us. The weather gets warmer, the flowers begin to bloom and windows open to the new season. It is a perfect time for us to clean our houses, cycle the air and generally make everything that much more comfortable. Why not take the opportunity to do the same thing for your computer? Chances are your machine has built up a great deal of data over the years. Now is as good a time as any to clean it out and refresh an aging machine.

Why Clean Your Hard Drive?

Cleaning out your hard drive has a number of benefits. It will speed up your computer. It will help you organize your data. It will help you clear out unnecessary files that clutter your folders. You will have more space to store new data, install new programs and archive old files.

There are hundreds of files stored away in folders that you may not even know exist. When in doubt, it is better to leave a file alone. The last thing you want to do is delete a file your computer needs to run.

Step 1: Uninstall Old Programs

If you use a Windows machine, navigate to your control panel from the start menu. You will find an “add/remove programs” menu in the control panel. For Windows 7, it is called “programs and features.” Once you open this utility, it will scour your computer for every program that is installed.

Are you surprised at what you find? There may be programs on the list that you haven’t used in ages—many that you might not recognize. Some of them may be important, like software that controls your keyboard and mouse. Others are unnecessary, like old utilities and miscellaneous programs you never use. Browse through the list and remove old programs you no longer use.

Step 2: Clear Temporary Files

From the start menu, navigate to the accessories folder. Inside that folder is the system tools folder. Run the disk cleanup accessory. This will scour your hard drive for unnecessary files to remove. It will remove temporary Internet files, cache files and outdated error reports your system generates. It is a powerful utility that will clear out many files you never use.

Step 3: Organize Data

You probably have a few storage spaces for your own personal data. All of the text documents, spreadsheets, images and music files must be stored somewhere. Now is the time to organize them. Look through all your files and delete anything you don’t want or need. Consider moving files you want to keep but rarely access to an external storage location. Using an external hard drive, a USB thumb drive or CDs allow you to archive it somewhere without taking up computer space. Be sure to empty the recycle bin once more when you’re done.

Step 4: Scan and Defrag

Now that your computer is cleared, you can run a few scans. First off, make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Scan your computer and make sure it is malware free. Secondly, go back to the system tools menu where you found the disk cleanup utility. Another accessory in that folder is the disk defragmenter. You should run this utility now to optimize your hard drive. Once this defragmentation is complete, your computer will be in much better working condition.

— By Editor

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