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5 Tips to Clean and Speed Up Your Filthy PC

Originally posted by Bob Al-Greene/Apr 02, 2013 for: http://mashable.com/2013/04/02/clean-pc/

Our computers rarely run as fast as we want or expect them to. Whether you’re a Mac or Windows user, it’s maddening to sit in front of a taunting hourglass or spinning circle of death, especially when you have work to do. In the spirit of spring cleaning, we invite you to clean the dust bunnies out of your PC (literally and digitally). Here are five easy ways to get started.

1. Organize Everything

Your computing experience could seem slow if you spend eons clicking through endless subfolders or waiting for search to retrieve files. The first step toward a smooth-running PC is to remove human error.

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That means setting up an intuitive filing system for your documents to make sure they’re always where you want them, when you want them. Clearing and reorganizing your dekstop is an incredibly cathartic experience and will leave you with more peace of mind. Have fun with it — maybe use a grid wallpaper to organize icons precisely before switching back to your usual background. Image courtesy of Flickr, kleuske

2. Cut Out the Unnecessary

Run disk cleanup. It will free up space on your hard drive and improve the performance of your computer. Picture your PC as a hiker with a heavy backpack — you can help him move faster by unloading all the unnecessary junk you’ve accumulated — temporary files, duplicate files, downloads — as well as the crapware and trialware that came installed on your machine.

Check out PC Decrapifier to get started culling the herd of useless files bogging your PC down.

3. Fight Back
This is a simple proposition but an easy one to overlook: Invest in programs that target spyware, adware, malware and any viruses your computer might catch. This is about finding the right antivirus software for you.

If you do a lot of web surfing, for example, you might need some serious muscle to back you up. Or do you prefer a simple, unobtrusive program to keep your system running?

The Internet is flush with lists of decent, free antivirus programs. Whatever you choose, don’t forget you have it — scan as often as possible. Yes, it can take hours to do a full system scan. So set it up to work overnight, while you’re asleep, maybe. Getting into a cycle like this will keep your PC running healthy.

4. To Defrag or Not to Defrag?

As you use your PC, files get scattered across the system in bits and pieces: fragments. Defragmentation brings them all back together. And while this may not have a noticeable effect on your system speed, it’s good to make sure your files are all in one, correct place.

Unless you’re using a solid-state drive, you should probably defrag about once a month just to be on the safe side.

5. Start Over

There may come a time when your best hope is just to save all your data and wipe your hard drive, then reinstall Windows. This is the scorched earth option. But don’t forget to back up all your data beforehand, so you don’t lose anything important.

You may want to choose this time to upgrade to a newer operating system, like Windows 8. You should also double-check that you’re running the most recent version of your software. If you aren’t updating Windows constantly, you can set your PC to do it automatically.

Do you have some PC cleaning tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section.

 

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