With spring cleaning in full swing we must not forget our hard-working computers. In our previous article we cleaned off funky fingerprints and chased away devilish dust bunnies. Now it’s time to slim down your operating system and whip it back into shape!

Disorderly Conduct? Run A System Security Sweep

Let’s start by reviewing and cleaning up the operating system. This may be easy or perhaps even unnecessary if your organization has a virtual desktop system with a fully integrated workstation management system like Simplify Suite. But if you are working with a traditional desktop or laptop then read on.

First ensure the antivirus/anti-malware system is fully functional, up to date, performing regular system scans and reporting no errors. Ask your user if they are experiencing any performance problems, computer running slow, applications freezing or crashing, weird messages popping up on the screen. Take note of their feedback, troubleshoot and remedy as needed.

Hard drive cleanupUsers operating an unmanaged environment (i.e. traditional desktop or laptop), whether intentional or not, may install unwanted software. Updates for common, useful software (i.e. Oracle Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat) often bundle additional unwanted components that may need to be removed. Sometimes users will install weird multimedia viewers, instant messengers, browser toolbars, discount coupon offers (i.e. adware) and even file sharing apps – and some of those things could cause real trouble. Identify and remove all undesirable software. Reboot.

Does your company have an official policy regarding computer and internet usage? Depending on the severity of your findings, you may need to document and have a discussion with the user.

Time To Take Out The Trash

Over time most computers will build up garbage in the form of stale browser cookies, overflowing recycle bins and gigabytes of temporary internet files. All those unwanted files take up tons of drive space, slow the computer and make your antivirus/anti-malware scans take longer to complete. It’s time to empty that recycle bin, delete temporary internet files and clean up the hard drive.  A utility like CCleaner can make this task much easier.

Confront Your Email Bloat

Ah, email. One of our most important means of modern communications for both business and personal needs. Yet it is all too often poorly organized and maintained. We are talking thousands of email messages (complete with attachments) jammed into a single massive Inbox, resulting in a multi-gigabyte folder size within a year or two of heavy use. Depending on your email system and client software you may experience sluggish performance, slow or non-functional search function and delayed mail processing. In extreme cases you might even exceed the capabilities of some email software resulting in complete shutdown. Not good.

Here are some suggestions to help organize your email:

  • Organize by topic – create separate folders and organize messages by client, vendor, project, production sequence or whatever is applicable and makes sense for your situation.
  • Dispense the chaff – so you were included in a protracted email exchange resulting in 15 messages bounced back-and-forth. Do you need to keep the 14 preceding messages, or can you simply keep that final message and get rid of the rest?
  • Archive by year – say we are a few months into the New Year – are you still referencing emails from last year? Or are they pretty much lost and forgotten by now? You could create a folder for the preceding year(s) and move messages into those year archive folders. The messages will still be available in case you need to refer back to them, but at least your Inbox is now a lot smaller and more manageable.
  • Some email programs like Outlook can automatically archive old messages, check your specific email application to see what features it offers.

Continually Maintain And Improve

After going through the above process, did you end up spending a lot more time with your computer than you expected? Save time in the future by finding ways to automatically maintain your equipment. You could schedule an automatic disk clean-up, automatically filter and archive email messages, or simply schedule a little quality off-hours maintenance time at the end of each month with your computer. A little work now could save you a lot of work later and possibly prevent costly downtime.