Winter's over, spring has officially sprung...time to clear out the cobwebs and get things back in order! It's not just your home that needs a good scrub, either. Electronic devices—like your computer, tablet, and smartphone—also benefit from some spring cleaning attention, an effort that will extend the life of the devices and help ensure those operating systems run more efficiently.
Back Everything Up
Before you throw caution to the wind, it's essential that you run a full backup on your data—especially important stuff, like your vacation photos, grad school thesis and library of mp3s. It doesn't matter how you do it, whether you use a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive, subscribe to an online backup service or throw everything onto another computer, CD, flash stick or external hard drive. Just back up your important personal files so they don't end up the victim of overzealous cleanup efforts.
Organize the Desktop or Home Screen
It's infinitely easier to find your favorite apps and files when other junk is not cluttering up your desktop or home screen. If you're working with a computer, clear out excessive files, forgotten folders and shortcuts to programs you don't use. To clear off the home screen of a tablet or smartphone, long-press any icons you don't want and drag them upwards to the trash can. Time spent sorting away the most visible clutter now makes it easier to find stuff you actually need later.
Delete Browser Data
Once your desktop or home screen has some room to breathe, devote some space-clearing attention to your browser's cache, history and cookies. While this data's purpose is to speed up your typical Web surfing experience, an excessive buildup of browser junk creates the exact opposite effect. The process of clearing your browser's cache, history and cookies varies depending upon your device and chosen browser, but the functionality is typically found in your browser's settings or preferences menu.
Uninstall Unused Apps
Excessive games, utilities and other programs bog down your device's processing abilities and consume valuable memory space that's better allocated to more useful applications. Fire up your device's Application Manager or your computer's Control Panel and uninstall anything you haven't used recently. Restart the machine once you're done, and you'll likely notice an immediate difference. Happen to delete something inadvertently? In most cases, an app can simply be re-installed from either the app store, the installation disks or the manufacturer's website.
Update Your System
A failed, missed or ignored system or app update can also wreak havoc on a mobile device or computer, so be sure to verify that your device and programs are in their most up-to-date versions. Operating system updates are typically found within the main system settings; app updates can be initiated using your device's app store. In the case of a computer program you didn't install from the app store, try actually launching the program itself and use its menu options to manually check for updates.
Disable Background and Startup Apps
Many apps—your email client, for example, a music subscription app or a weather ticker—are designed to start when your device boots up and remain on constantly. Unused apps that are left running, however, can drain available memory and processing power. By disabling them, you'll increase the efficiency of your device since it won't be forced to load multiple items simultaneously. On your computer, do this by reviewing your startup programs and disable anything unfamiliar or unwanted. On a mobile device, an app like AppManager or Smart App Manager may provide more useful control functionality.
Ditch Temporary Files
Mobile devices and computers require free memory space to function properly. If you've completed the tasks of backing up your important files and clearing out the unused applications, you may still be able to free some space by locating and deleting temporary files. On a computer, try using the Disk Cleanup utility to clear out this unnecessary data. An optimizing app like Power Clean or Dr. Cleaner may provide more comprehensive clearing assistance if you're working with a smartphone or tablet instead.
Spyware and viruses can compromise your privacy and stall your device's performance, so the next step is a thorough antivirus and anti-spyware scan. If you don't already have one installed, select apps from a reputable manufacturer, and then run the scan and remove any threats that are found. A system reboot is often necessary once scanning is complete. Remember to keep the anti-malware app, like the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware app or the Clean Master Free Optimizer app, updated so your device remains protected from new threats.
Photo Credits: Demand Media
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