Time for a Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year again…sort of. Time to open up the windows and clean out the staleness of winter. Time for a spring cleaning. Might as well give your computer a spring cleaning too. Yes, computers do need cleaning, physically and virtually. First, let’s look at the physical cleaning.

All electronics have two mortal enemies – liquids and dust. You understand why water would be bad, but how about dust? Dust build-up prevents airflow around the electronics, which is how the electronics keeps cool. If the insides of your computer get too hot, it will run poorly, and possibly even quit altogether. It’s so easy to prevent too. All you need is a clean cloth – preferably a microfiber cloth, some canned air, window cleaner without ammonia in it, and a dust mask. You can get these at most department stores.
Safety first! Shut your computer down and unplug it. Do the same with your monitor. If you have a laptop, shut it down, unplug it, and remove the battery. Cleaning live electronics is a bad idea.

Put on your dust mask. Use the canned air, with its straw, to blow in and around the vents of your computer. The can will get cold, so do this in bursts. Repeat this process until no more dust comes out of your computer.

Take your cloth and wet it so it’s just barely damp. Now, wipe down all the outside surfaces of your computer, paying extra attention to vents. Rinse out your cloth frequently. Turn your keyboard upside down and shake it out. Wipe down your keyboard too.
For your computer screen, take a clean microfiber cloth and spray window cleaner on it. Never spray it directly on the screen. It can drip into the insides and cause damage. Wipe down the screen, just like you would a window. When it’s clean, use a dry part of the cloth to polish it softly. Now your screen will be easier to read.

You’re halfway done. Let’s clean it virtually now. My preferred tool for this is a free program called CCleaner. You can download it from www.piriform.com. There is a paid version with more features – the free one¬†will do the basics, but you should look into the pro version.

Piriform Ccleaner

Once CCleaner is installed, open it. On the left side, you’ll see a bunch of options. Some of them are already checked off, some aren’t. If you’re not sure what these options mean, just leave them. Now, click on the Run Cleaner button. CCleaner will delete unnecessary files, freeing up a lot of space. This means your computer has to wade through less files to find the ones it does need. Kind of like not having to walk through snow anymore allows you to walk quicker.

That’s it! Your computer should be running better and faster now, and you can enjoy the fresh start only a spring cleaning can bring.

First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 21, No. 15, April 15, 2015

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