Toss the clutter slowing your PC
By Kim Komando
Maybe you've resolved to be more organized and efficient in 2010. But your computer is slow and overloaded with files. Let's get your computer in order.
A clean computer will run faster and help you be more efficient. Find links to the programs mentioned at www.komando.com/news.
CLEAN UP BROWSER
Your Web browser stores cookies, temporary files and browsing history. These use up storage space and slow you down.
Cleaning your browser is easy.
In Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser: Click Tools, then Internet Options. Click Delete in the browsing history section of the General tab. Select Temporary Internet Files and other items to delete. Click Delete and OK.
In Mozilla's Firefox browser: Click Tools, then Clear Private Data. Select Cache and other data to delete. Click Clear Private Data Now.
Temporary files left by programs slow your machine and eat storage space. To delete them, open Windows Explorer. Right-click your C drive and select Properties. On the General tab, click Disk Cleanup.
Windows will take a minute to examine your hard drive. A list of items will appear. Select "Temporary files." You can also opt to delete certain other data. Click OK and then OK.
You can also use a program like CCleaner (free). It will clear temporary files and browser data.
Duplicate files are a waste of storage. They make it difficult to find files you need and complicate backups.
Be careful when removing duplicate files — files of the same name aren't necessarily identical. A program like CloneSpy (free) will help.
CloneSpy uses several methods to locate duplicates. For example, it can take file size into consideration. If in doubt, open the files to check that they're identical.
ORGANIZE YOUR FILES
Descriptive file names are paramount to an organized machine. They give you a reasonable idea of what a file is before opening it.
Be as descriptive as possible with file names. Use dates, subjects and locations to identify photos and other files. Underscores and hyphens can help with naming.
Windows only allows alphanumeric characters and certain symbols in file names. You'll be warned if you use an unsupported character.
Rename Master (free) helps you rename multiple files quickly and easily. You can even use metadata to rename your files. For example, use MP3 tags to rename files.
Now it's time to organize your files. Use nested folders to keep files organized. Start general and get specific.
For example, within your Documents folder, create a folder for clients. Create folders for each client within this folder. Subfolders in each client's folder will help you find invoices, correspondence and other documents.
To create a new folder, open Windows Explorer. Locate the folder where you would like to place a subfolder. Right-click a blank area and select New, then Folder. Name the folder.
You'll want to move your old files to the new folders. Make sure you're moving and not simply copying the files. Select the files in Windows Explorer. Right-click and drag them to the new folder. Select Move Here from the pop-up menu.
E-MAIL AND ITUNES
This is also the perfect time to delete old e-mail.
In Outlook, click Tools, then Mailbox Cleanup. Boxes let you specify an age or size for messages. Specify your options and click Find.
In the box that opens, you can add additional criteria. Select messages to delete in the bottom of the window. Right-click and select Delete.
Your iTunes library may also be disorganized. You may have dead tracks and duplicates. Use the free iTunes Library Updater to remove duplicate and missing files. It's easier than cleaning iTunes manually.
After you clean up your computer, make sure it's backed up. I recommend an online service. Your data is backed up automatically. And it's stored off-site for added security.