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Is It Time To Clean Your Computer?

Woman smiling at colleague while using computer

Is It Time To Clean Your Computer?

Many of us use our laptops or computers every day, for work and for pleasure, but when was the last time you thought about cleaning it? A study published by Which? magazine found that the average computer keyboard is home to more bacteria than the average toilet seat and in fact, one of the keyboards they tested was so dirty it contained five times the amount of a toilet seat and had to be quarantined. Maintaining a clean computer should be a part of your regular device maintenance and you may also want to clean it both inside and out:

Why should you clean the outside of your computer?

Keyboards are one of the biggest spreaders of disease in the office environment

We spread diseases with our hands and when thinking about those things we touch every day our computer keyboard and mouse usually come up pretty high on the list. If you have a cold and sneeze at your desk the bacteria then cover your keyboard, if a colleague uses your device it then covers their hands, they then use their own keyboard spreading the virus. Before you know it the entire office can come down with your cold all from the bacteria on your keyboard.

Bacteria like to live on our computer surfaces

Those little grooves and crevices on our computer keyboard and mouse make perfect little homes for colonies of bacteria with a swab from a computer keyboard typically holding 7,500 bacteria, just for comparison’s sake, the bottom of a handbag is usually closer to 2520 and your headphones 2550.

Office mice may be tapping away while you sleep

The Royal Society of Chemistry has found that in some offices mice are routinely scurrying over people’s computers and keyboards while on the hunt for some tasty dropped crumbs and they often leave mouse droppings behind.

Person typing on keyboard

Image credit: Pexels, Free to Use Licence.

Why should you clean the inside of your computer?

Although the outside of your computers such as its screen, keyboard and mouse, can be home to millions of bacteria, the inside may need some TLC too.

It can speed it up

Through simple daily use, your computer will have picked up thousands of temporary files, hundreds of downloaded items and many start-up programmes which each take up a little bit of your computers RAM (Random Access Memory) and may slow it down. Cleaning your computer with a specialist programme such as Clean My Mac X cab get rid of any unnecessary files freeing up RAM and speeding back up your device.

It can rid it of hidden viruses

When was the last time you ran an antivirus scan? Many of us put off running antivirus scans as they can take a long time and slow down our device while they are working but if you aren’t running scans regularly then you may have picked up some unwanted guests. 32% of the world’s devices are infected with some kind of malware with thousands of new types of malware generated every day.

It can improve your productivity

We rely heavily on our computers to complete everyday tasks from sending emails, to doing online banking and even ordering the weekly food shop. With technology now acting as an extension of our own brains its important to keep our digital spaces organized to help us find things when we need them.

How can you clean your computer?

To clean the exterior of your computer

  1. Shut down or unplug your device
    To clean the exterior of your computer start by ensuring that the device is switched off and shut down.
  2. Remove any particles
    If you have a USB keyboard then unplug it and tip it upside down to dislodge any large particles that may be laying between the keys.
  3. Use an air gun
    For particles which are reluctant to budge you may wish to purchase a compressed air canister, angle the nozzle about a half-inch away from the keyboard and blow between the keys of the keyboard whilst it is tilted.
  4. Kill any bacteria
    To kill any bacteria start by wiping the keyboard, plastic portion of the screen and your mouse with a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol.
  5. Clean between the keys
    To get between the keys simply dip a cotton bud in the solution and work it into the hard to reach areas.
  6. Clean the screen
    For the computer screen always use a dedicated screen cleaning spray and a clean cloth, be careful not to over-wet the screen and then buff away any excess with a microfiber cloth to remove any streaks.
  7. Clean your desk
    Finally, use a disinfectant wipe to wipe down your desk area.

To clean the interior of your computer

  1. Run a cleaning programme
    To clean the inside of your computer start by running a cleaning programme which will remove any temporary files and unused programmes from your device.

    Editor’s Note: I highly recommend CCleaner – the free version will be adequate for most users
  2. Manually delete files
    Next, you will want to go into your documents manually to delete any further unwanted files such as old downloads and PDF files you have opened once and will never use again.
  3. Use the cloud
    If you don’t want to delete these files from your computer but still wish to free up storage then consider making use of the cloud. The cloud allows you to save files online and gain access to them from anywhere in the world. Simply upload the files you wish to store onto the cloud and then delete the original from your device to free up space.
  4. Rename your files and folders
    Properly naming all of your files and folders can save you valuable time in the long run. Try to stick to one naming convention throughout your device and be consistent. Chose names which can be easily searched for rather than acronyms and use version numbers if saving multiple iterations.
  5. Run a virus scan
    With your files in order, it’s time to allocate some time to a virus scan. Run a thorough antivirus software and action any threats that it discovers. To keep your computer safe from viruses in the future schedule a regular scan, once a week or so.
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