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Essential digital spring cleaning tips for PCs and mobile

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Clear away irritating clutter for a better, faster device



Whether you’re a family of data hoarders, clean freaks, responsible device owners or a combo of all three, these digital spring cleaning tips will get your gizmos running faster in time for summer fun.

How to clear digital clutter

1. Run a computer virus scan on your PC.

This should be the first step of any digital spring cleaning plan. Filthy malware and viruses can wreak havoc on an otherwise happy household.

A decent scan will help identify reasons behind sluggish performance system gremlins and irritating pop-ups.

2. Scan your mobile devices for dangerous viruses, too.

Smartphones and tablets should be outfitted with antivirus software, since they are just as susceptible to system slowdowns as PCs.

The only thing more maddening than finding out a rogue program has been stealing your private data is realizing you could have easily prevented it. It’s as simple as checking your apps for malware.

3. Delete old files, apps, games and software you no longer use.

It’s unanimous: System bloat and lost hard drive space are the worst. Luckily, you can remedy both situations but proceed carefully. (If there’s any doubt, don’t throw out.) Ask yourself these three questions to determine if you can trash the file:

  • What is its purpose?
  • When was the last time I opened it?
  • Does it have financial, legal or sentimental value?

If you send a program to the recycle bin by accident, it’s still retrievable; it’s only when you permanently erase it from the hard drive that it’s gone for good.

4. Save and backup what’s important, making mobile data backup part of the plan.

Once you’ve purged your device of the non-essentials, save 2+ copies of each file. Backup your data to the cloud, solid state drives and external hard drives.

And make sure you protect the irreplaceable information on your smartphone and tablet. Mobile data backup is equally important if you value your contact info, music, images, videos, text history and calendar. Don’t let a lost or stolen smartphone slow down your professional and personal life.

Related reading: 5-Step Future-Proofing Strategy to Protect Your Files for Decades

5. Clear the browser cache and delete temporary internet files and cookies.

Deleting the cache, temp files and cookies are simple ways to speed up your computer system.

Make it even easier on yourself. Use an internet security tool that automatically removes the ‘bad’ cookies for you. Now you can hang onto the ‘good’ cookies that let you revisit sites without having to log in each time.

6. Defrag your computer file systems.

Defragging can fix performance issues and optimise disk space. Note: Never defrag your solid state drive; it’s an unnecessary step that will only shorten its lifespan.

How to organize your desktop and mobile homescreen

7. Organize your PC desktop.

Create a system of folders to distribute all of the rag tag files you’ve stored on your desktop. Use naming conventions (e.g., use dates, underscores, labels) when creating the folders. This extra step will make them easier to find.

You can also download or create productivity-inspired wallpaper. Find an image that is labelled or divided into sections that allows you to divide your folders into intuitive groups. (Ex: ‘Images’, ‘Pending’, ‘Shortcuts’, ‘Finances’.)

8. Organize your mobile device homescreen.

Once you’ve scanned your apps for viruses and deleted the ones you don’t use, organize the remaining apps into folders:

Apple: The iOS’ nifty app-bundling feature cuts down on digital clutter. Press down on an app until they all wobble. Next, drag the app and place it over a second app that shares a similar function.

A 7.1 glitch lets you create nested folders by following the steps above, then quickly dragging a folder over a second folder while it’s still open.

Android: Apps can be grouped as well. Just give the app a long tap and pull it on top of a second app. Voila – a folder is created.

Nested folders are possible through various Android organizer or homescreen-replacement apps.

Spring cleaning. It’s not exactly classified as ‘family fun’. But you’ve got to admit, it feels amazing when you’re finished. You feel lighter, freer, happier – almost like you could deep clean your fridge this time around... but not quite.

Have some digital spring cleaning suggestions of your own? Be a mate and share them with other tip seekers looking for extra hard drive space at @TrendMicroUK.

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