After receiving five spam emails yesterday all from the same friend of mine, I alerted him that his email account had been hacked. He quickly responded with an apology and mentioned that his roommates had also been receiving “check out my profile” and “miracle product” emails from him—how embarrassing, right? As spring gets into full swing, don’t forget to spring clean your machine, lest you become a spam-circulating sucker! Declutter your electronics to remove viruses, free up space, stay organized and create order during the chaos of college life.
How to free up disc space
Chat rooms and file-sharing websites are fun, but they are nasty breeding grounds for viruses and spyware. And, leaving your computer connected to the Internet 24/7 is an open invitation for hackers. To maximize performance and protection, you must clean up your computer regularly—and once a year is not considered “regularly”! If cleaning is performed daily, it should not affect your social calendar, but if you have not cleaned your computer lately, cancel your plans for tonight because this process may take a while!
Start the cleaning process by defragging your hard drive. This will open valuable space on your computer. Then, download the following free programs from a reputable source like CNET:
- Registry cleaner (Eusing)—cleans system registry to quicken computer response time
- Multipurpose cleaner (CCleaner)—clears cookies and temporary internet files; will also overwrite free space to make deleted files unrecoverable (a must-have if you are going to sell or junk your computer—note to self: expunge photos of my buddies and me dressed as zombie stormtroopers.)
- Anti-malware (Malwarebytes) —searches for and destroys viruses, spyware, trojans and Adware
Keep or toss?
After your computer has been cleaned, decide what information you plan to keep and how you are going to organize these documents. Start by creating a few simple folders on your desktop like:
- Pictures/Videos (Zoey Deschanel, UFO sightings)
- Music/Movies (Lupe Fiasco, Tron)
- Personal Files (Expenses, Segway warranty)
- Class Files (Thermodynamics II)
From there, you can drop all class files into a folder labeled Winter Semester 2012, etc. and all personal files can be organized by year. After all of your documents have been placed in the appropriate folders, decide how you are going to store this information. Keep current and favorite files on your computer for easy accessibility, but transfer outdated information that you wish to keep to:
- external hard drive
- jump drive (for easy portability)
- the cloud
Choose the option or combination that works best with your computer habits. Cloud computing can benefit students who want to share information or access information using various electronic devices. The best cloud to use will be dictated by which mobile devices you own. According to the October 13, 2011 post “Cloud comparison:Apple iCloud vs. Google vs. Windows Live,” on the Intomobile blog, iCloud “gets rid of a lot of the headaches of switching between Apple devices,” says author Marin Perez. Google Android “syncs your apps, WiFi settings and more just by signing in with a Google account,” adds Perez. Costs vary, but Apple and Microsoft both offer limited free storage for its cloud users.
Clean-up for Android users
After taking care of your computer, you can now turn your attention to your other devices. On February 22, 2011, Sarah Perez offered cleaning tips for Android users in “Smartphone Tip: How to Free Up Space on Your Android Phone” on ReadWriteWeb. Perez suggests:
- moving apps to your SD card/USB storage
- uninstalling unwanted apps
- removing photos and videos
- analyzing the disk usage app to find other issues
- decreasing your contact list
Need an app for that? App Cache Cleaner and History Eraser Pro are two apps that are offered on Google Play to clean up your device at the touch of a button.
Clean-up for Apple users
If your growing media collection on iTunes is getting unmanageable, check out apps like Rinse and TuneUp for automatically removing duplicate files and fixing mislabeled tracks.
Getting rid of apps that are not often used and streamlining your contact list are additional ways to create space. Need an app for that? Try ContactClean from Headlight software.
If you can barely afford Ramen noodles, then it’s doubtful you have money to buy a new computer/tablet/smartphone, which is why keeping your electronics in tip-top shape is of utmost importance. By keeping your devices going as long as possible, you’ll be left with more money in your wallet for more important things.