OK, so I’m not the most organized person in the world. But one thing I did do is set a schedule of when to do things. I get reminders to pay bills, send greetings, get my car serviced and yes, I set a reminder to clean. And that is what happened today.
It was a good thing because I was sitting at the computer wondering what I should write about for this week’s Focus. I thought, "Yeah. Change of pace and I might get inspired about something in an article." Little did I know the answer was sitting in front of my face the whole time.
Part of my cleaning ritual is not only to take care of the stuff in my car, pick up the odds and ends around the house and such, but it’s also to clean up my computer. Take all the old, nasty, outdated stuff off the computer and regain some hard drive space and maybe even speed some processes up.
My main computer runs a Redundant Array of Independant Drives (aka RAID) and is striped. Basically, my data sits on 4 drives vertically. If one drive dies, I can replace and rebuild the data with little loss.
Really cool for data safety and ease of use. However, it also means Gigabytes of data to sort through - 3 quarters of a Terrabyte to be exact. I looked at my download folder which contains everything I have downloaded for this PC, work PC’s, my Mac, any Virtual PC drive I have created, etc. and it was over 30 gig alone.
Now for the average user, they may not have that much data. Some people I know are click-hounds so they might have a lot of pictures, or maybe MP3′s and possibly movie files. Nonetheless, in a course of a year, the data needs to be sorted and cleaned, otherwise you will have a hellatious time trying to get data off the drive.
Therefore, I decided to report on what I go through to clean up the drive. Technically, the simplest idea would be to reload everything and move from there. But I don’t go that far. I do run through these steps:
Remove unneeded programs – The first thing I do is get rid of programs that I don’t use anymore. You may want to get some sort of software control program, but I just uninstall the old fashioned way. Start – Control Panel – Add/Remove Programs – Uninstall.
When I do that, I first write down every item that I uninstall. If I find I need it, then I am not going "now what was the name of that software?".
While we are on the subject, did you know that your computer can speed up just a little faster just by unplugging your loose USB cables? I had a friend see an enormous difference when they unplugged a USB card reader. Even loose cables are being pinged to see if there are devices on them. The less connected to your computer, the better.
Run Updates – windowsupdate.microsoft.com is my friend. Except they keep validating my Windows version. It’s still good – hasn’t changed.
Versiontracker.com is a great site to go to see if your software needs updates. They do have software to load on your machine to keep things up to date, but I can’t endorse because I don’t use it.
Delete the Cache – If you go to the properties of the C: drive, you can cleanup a drive and delete a lot of cache files. It’s amazing how much cache your computer can take up.
Run Registry Cleaner – Abexo makes a registry cleaner that does a heck of a job. I have been using this program for a while now and I have never had a problem with it taking care of old registry programs. Best part – it’s free. You will have to go to Download.com to get the free version.
Clean up "Annoying Code" – This is more advanced, but in the registry, there is a folder called "RUN". That folder contains code to allow programs to load up at startup. Yahoo IM, Antivirus, Quicktime, Adobe, Microsoft Messanger and a whole host of other programs can invade that area. I don’t want YIM to load up when I start the computer, so I turn it off. If the registry code is in there, I remove it.
You may not want to do this if you have no experience in the registry.
Back up important data – catalog old data. – This is where I start looking at my data. Now last year I restructured my hard drive – organized folders. If I downloaded software, I put it in a "Download" folder. My photos are in the photos folder, and my photoshops are in their respected folder, too.
I first figure out what to catalog. I have 2 websites I am no longer working on. Therefore, I am going to save them to disc and put them in my catalog data folder. I’ll probably take off about 80-100 gig worth of data just doing this step alone. Podcasts and Video take up a lot of space.
Once that is done, I will work on the full backup of the system. I am guessing that with the restructure, I should get through it a lot faster.
Scandisk and Defrag – Now that I have cleaned up my drives, it’s time to check them and defrag. Always do this last unless you cannot. There are 2 reasons why. First, since I just dumped over 100 gig off my computer, I will have more space to work with – and Second, I have safely removed my data off the computer. I can make sure it’s error free now.
I have just skimmed the surface of what I really do with my cleaning process. I have a lot of data on 5 computers to clean. Being organized will help. For those who have only 1 computer with 1 hard drive, it will be a lot faster.
Hopefully, they won’t find out the hard way that their data is gone in an instant if they don’t back things up. I just had a non-IT friend have that happen. They lost pictures, music and a bunch of other personal stuff. Hopefully now they are making safeguards so if this happens again, they don’t loose everything.
All in all, this process will take a couple days. In the end, I’ll just do the last step…..
Get a new computer – Just kidding. But I will review the items in my computer and see if there are any necessary upgrades needed. This year it will be a new soundcard and video card.
So my house is 75% clean, the car is next and the computer is going through the paces. Actually, I only got 10% of the house cleaned…. But the computer comes first, right?