a clean pc is a happy pc

I spent the day cleaning up my own messes. Normally I keep a very clean PC, but after a while even I have to dig around inside and sort through all the slush piles. (if you are a MAC person you may have to skip through some of this.) My PC was running sluggish and I had been collecting and saving a lot of stuff lately. So I figured it was time for a little basic housekeeping.

After years of visiting other booksellers and rooting around in their hard drives, I can reasonably say that how someone keeps their physical desktop is a reflection of what their hard drives look like. Back in 1980 we didn’t have Microsoft Explorer or even File Manager, our computers ran on DOS and with what amounted to blank area to keep our files. We got accustomed to keeping our files and data very organized. We developed systems for grouping and rules of thumb for naming, that make it easier to store and find things. If you didn’t you lost it and had to type the whole thing in all over again – and boy didn’t THAT suck.

When I started my last day job I was greeted by 2 computers with insides that resembled a bunch of bankers box filled haphazardly with papers and file folders. Which was exactly the same thing that covered every flat office surface at that job. When you needed to find something inside the PC you had to run a slow search on the ENTIRE hard drive. When you wanted to find something on the desktop you had to sift through every pile of paper.

This is what my My Documents folder looks like – from that you can guess what all my hard drives and flash drives look like and from there my real desk top – an organized structure with a few small slush piles. My PC desktop usually has about 6 shortcuts and the same number of files on it.

Before running my spyware, malware, adware, or disc cleanup programs, I like to go through my hard drives and hand delete any files I don’t need and safely store the ones I want, Exactly the same thing you would do if you were picking up your living room before you fired up the vacuum cleaner. (btw your ‘desktop’ is a file folder on your hard drive just like all the others)

Booksellers accumulate just as many documents inside their computer as they do in real life: emails saved as texts, database extracts, images of books they own, they DID own or they wanna own. Presorting the files before they hit your hard drive is a good idea: develop consistent naming conventions for files and folders, pretend your PC is a file cabinet and when you put something in there you want to be able to find it again. Try storing data files by topic: customer wants, auction images, appraisals, tax documents. Adding years to folder names tax_files_04 which will allow you to archive old files easily.

If you feel uncomfortable about deleting things, then compress them to save space, or move them off the hard drive to a clearly labeled CD. Personally I run two hard drives inside my PC. Whenever I get a larger hard drive, I simply make the old one my secondary drive where I keep all my music, images, audio books, old accounting files, anything I don’t use all the time, but still may need to reference now and then.

Every so often go to the Control panel and run Add/Remove program, try to identify all the programs on your PC. Software and hardware often comes with ‘extra’ programs that you may never ever need nor want. Old software you don’t use anymore – all of this stuff can be removed to free up space on your hard drive. Check your Startup folder under Programs and see if there are things running you don’t want or know about.

Need I tell you that you SHOULD subscribe to an anti-virus program like McAfee or Norton? You also need Ad-ware removal program like Ad_aware. There are a lot of things on your pc, you can’t see that can be slowing it down and taking up space. If you keep a clean hard drive, it becomes easier to see what shouldn’t be there. If all of this frightens you, then put a crowbar in your wallet and PAY someone to do it for you. You spend a lot of money on this machine that basically the heart of your business, you have an auto mechanic don’t you?

Aside from cleaning the INSIDES of your PC,
use compressed air, long bristle paint brushes, tweezers. And don’t forget the outside, the keyboard, the mouse, the peripherals etc . . . you don’t want it seizing up from cat hair in the cooling fan. [cough-cough] not like it ever happened to me.

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