Programs take up a fair amount of space, so regularly clean out anything you’re not using
Digital junk piles up very quickly. Look no further than all the blurry pictures and old screenshots on your phone and in your gallery. What you don’t see are invasive tracking cookies saved to your smartphone.
Clutter on your computer can be even tougher. Start with your Recycle Bin on PC or Trash Can on Mac. You need to empty it manually every time. Tap or click for files and folders you should just toss out for good.
It doesn’t take a ton of time to clean your computer. But you have to do it the right, smart way. I can help.
1. Get Sensitive Files Off Your Desktop
How many documents are stored on your computer that you really wouldn’t want someone else to get hold of? I know people who have Excel spreadsheets full of their passwords stored open on the desktop.
Maybe you keep financial records well organized or you have a folder with all your necessary medical documents. Beyond the privacy risk, think about how much of a pain it is when your computer finally bites the dust. You don’t want to end up in a pinch because you never saved those files to a safe location.
My recommendation: Back up anything you don’t want to lose to the cloud. Whichever option you go with, follow what tech professionals call the 3-2-1 rule. Keep three copies of your important files: two on different storage media and one protected at an off-site location. (Yes, clouds matter.)
If you insist on saving private documents locally, at least give spying a more challenging time by naming the folder something like “Vacation Photos.” Make sure your computer locks automatically when you’re away and requires a password on startup as well.
Speaking of photos, I can help you clean them, too. Tap or click for a smart guide on sorting your huge photo collection.
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2. Remove programs you don’t need or use anymore
Programs take up a substantial amount of space, so regularly clean out whatever you’re not using.
In addition, outdated apps can put you at risk. By keeping outdated programs on your computer, you are potentially leaving a door open for cybercriminals.
Here’s how to find and uninstall apps that are taking up space.
On Windows PC:
- press start button See more apps or programs. Press and hold (or right-click) the app and select uninstall.
On a Mac:
- At the top left of your screen, click apple icon, then press About Mac.
- select the Storage option in the middle of the pop-up box.
- On the right, select to manage to. You will see that everything is taking up space – and how much space it is taking up. You can also review Apple’s recommendation to place.
- On the right, click Application. Click on the program you no longer want and select delete in the lower right corner, then tap Confirm.
related: Upgrading to a new computer soon? Here are three options for deleting files and completely erasing your hard drive.
3. Stay up to date
The latest version of whichever operating system you use is the most secure. Updates, even minor ones, patch major security issues and vulnerabilities.
One caveat: When a brand new version of an operating system, like Windows 11, rolls out, it can take a while for the kinks to work. Wait a while to update until you’re comfortable troubleshooting new issues and reverting to the previous version if necessary.
If you want to update to Windows 11 or already have, Tap or click for five tips, tricks and features to try now.
To update Windows:
- press start button > Adjustment (gear icon).
- Choose Updates and Security > Windows Repair.
- Select if an update is available download and install.
To update a Mac:
- press apple icon > system Preferences.
- Choose software update To see if there are any available updates.
- Then, click restart now Button.
4. See what’s going on in the background
Checking your Task Manager or Activity Monitor is a great way to see if anything strange is happening in the background. A sudden spike is a bad sign. If you notice that your activity has increased even though you are not doing anything intensive, it could be a sign that your computer is infected with malware.
If you see something strange, run an antivirus or anti-malware scan.
Check Your Activity on PC:
- press Ctrl + Alt + Delete.
- to select Task Manager. Here you can see how much of your CPU and memory is being used. Look for any processes you don’t recognize, especially those that use a significant percentage of your CPU or memory.
See your Mac’s activity:
- open one finder window, then select Application folder> utilities.
- select the Activity Monitor.
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5. Don’t Forget Outside
It’s important to clean the inside of your computer, but don’t forget the outside. Dust, dirt and grime can get into every nook and cranny.
Apple is now selling a $19 polishing cloth, but a good old microfiber cloth is fine for cleaning your screen. Just don’t use scratched paper towels. A dry cloth can wipe away most of the dirt and debris. For stubborn stains and fingerprints, dampen the cloth lightly with distilled water. Never pour or spray water directly on the screen and also stay away from glass cleaner.
I prefer pre-moistened electronics wipes. They are very easy. I buy a great value pack from Care Touch. They are great on small screens like phones, tablets and laptops. For TVs and large monitors, These Wipes from Women work like a charm.
Your keyboard, mouse, and ports need love, too. Tap or click here for my complete guide on how to properly clean your tech. Choose the wrong products or methods, and you could do some serious damage.
Technical tip: Digitize your handwritten notes or copy text from a photo
Pro Tip: Know the Signs You’ve Been Hacked
A cluttered computer is one thing. One infected with malware is quite another. There are some warning signs, such as the temperature of your machine. If you put your hand on the screen or keyboard and it’s hotter than you remember, don’t ignore it.
Malicious software can eat up storage space, overwork your processor and send your fan into overdrive. Tap or click here for more ways to tell if your computer or phone is hacked.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? call kim’s national radio show and Tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can hear or see the The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcast.
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The. Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando ShowThe biggest weekend radio talk show in the country. Kim calls and consults on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website komando.com.