By Technology Services Group (TSG)
Officially, Clean Out Your Computer Day on February 9th is all about getting rid of the dust but at TSG, we reckon that it should really be about getting rid of clutter.
In fact, whatever you do, don’t open up the case and try to clean it! Although, if you do please turn the power off first!
It is true that occasionally processor fans get clogged up but it’s really an issue that’s been consigned to history with most modern machines built to protect themselves from anything like that.
If your anticipated and desired end result is better performance and fewer frustrations then there are few other issues that we’d suggest you consider.
Data is proliferating at an alarming rate – documents, spreadsheets, presentations, mp3s, video – and we suspect that all but the most organised run the risk of becoming swamped.
So what can you do to clean up your computer in a more virtual sense? And why bother in the first place?
Back up your files
Let’s start with the second question.
How many of you store documents on your hard drive? We’ve all walked past colleagues who have a pristine desk but whose PC desktop is full to bursting with a combination of personal and business files.
Are they backed up on a regular basis? We doubt it.
Just think how your boss would react if you lost those vital sales figures you’d been working on for the last 6 months.
And your husband / wife / partner / mum / dad / etc. might be quite upset if you lost all of the photographs you took from baby’s first birthday party!
In most cases, the more appropriate place for your business files is the network drive, or better still a SharePoint site that allows you to collaborate effectively with colleagues. We’ll come back to SharePoint later.
However, the company network is not the place for personal files. OK, so they might get backed up on a regular basis but that’s then using valuable and costly bandwidth and storage.
You could invest in an external hard drive and get into the habit of syncing your files on a regular basis. Or you could take advantage of one of the many online services such as Microsoft's One Drive, DropBox or Apple iCloud.
They might not get rid of the problems many have with duplicate files but they will keep everything safe and secure, and accessible from any device with an internet connection.
Actually, Windows 10 when it lands later this year will have some pretty cool features that account for our (dis)organisational skills by intelligently creating photo albums that omit duplicates.
And, if you struggle to escape your chaotic habits then Windows 10 will bring Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, to the PC to help you find anything you’re looking for.
In the business context it’s certainly worth checking out the document management capabilities of SharePoint with libraries, project sites, version control and a host of other features that should keep everything neat, tidy and compliant. In fact, many use SharePoint to manage their ISO quality management processes so it must be good.
Having dealt with the clutter, it’s also worth turning attention to aging, and probably creaking, equipment. Not so much about having a clean out but rather a clear out.
In spite of the warnings, plenty are still using PCs running Windows XP well after support, updates and patches were ended. And the same is likely to be the case when Window Server 2003 reaches end of support in July this year.
As technology has moved on performance has increased massively – way more than any clean-up will ever achieve.
More importantly, modernising rather than just cleaning up will reduce this risk of a disaster that could just be waiting to happen.