10 Simple Ways to Spring Clean Your PC

It's springtime — the proverbial time to tackle the grime that's built up in our homes over the winter months. You may know all the tricks when it comes to scrubbing, polishing, and organizing your house. Confused when it comes to your PC? Freshen-up your computer with our roundup of ten time-tested cleaning tricks, both for the inside and outside of your PC.

On the Outside

Tackle cleaning the outside of your PC by taking a look at these four main areas, below. (Remember, to be safe, turn off and unplug your computer before cleaning).

  • 1. Your desktop - First and foremost, dust your desktop and workplace area. It's important to do this on a regular basis to keep grime from clogging the air vents behind your PC.
  • 2. Your monitor - Use a soft cloth and monitor cleaning spray to remove buildup.
  • 3. Your keyboard - Gently turn your keyboard upside down and let loose any dust, crumbs and grime that may have fallen between keys. Use a cotton swab or compressed air for additional cleanup between the keys.
  • 4. Your mouse - Clean the top and bottom of your mouse with a soft cloth, and the inner components with a cotton swab. (Some PC pros recommend slightly dampening your cloth with rubbing alcohol for added cleanliness. If you go this route, be sure not to over-saturate and to thoroughly dry before replacing the mouse cover or components.)

On the Inside

Now that the outside of your PC has been cleaned-up, we'll continue on our list with the steps necessary to put a shine on the inner workings of your computer.

  • 5. Update with the latest patches. Check the status of your operating system, security software, and all other applications that you use to ensure that you're up-to-date.
  • 6. Get rid of spyware, malware and viruses. Spyware and malware are among the most common culprits of a slow running PC. Not only can malware put your privacy and security at risk, it can also sap your computer's processing power. Need this kind of protection? Try Ad-Aware Plus or Pro today for comprehensive protection against viruses, spyware, and rootkits.
  • 7. Out with old documents. After you're finished using files that contain sensitive information — such as tax preparation documents — permanently remove them from your PC with a digital file shredder, like Lavasoft File Shredder. This will clean your computer from old deleted files and folders that are stored on your drives and will ensure that your private information won't fall into the wrong hands.
  • 8. Tune the registry. Over time, your computer's registry, the database containing information about programs installed on your PC, can become bogged down with corrupt and unused data. You can increase your computer's speed and stability with a registry scanner and repair tool. Try Lavasoft's Registry Tuner to identify, clean, and correct these errors.
  • 9. Wipe away surfing tracks. Do a quick sweep of your browser cookies, cache, and history. Ad-Aware makes this cleanup task simple; with TrackSweep (a feature in the Free, Plus, and Pro versions) you can erase the tracks left behind while surfing the Web on multiple browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera, with one easy click.
  • 10. Manage startup programs. Too many programs automatically running at startup can be a cause of PC slow-downs. Check to see which programs run automatically when you start your computer, and remove any unnecessary ones. You can do this easily, reducing the toll on your system, with the AutoStart Manager which is a feature of the Pro version of Ad-Aware. Less programs that startup with your computer means a faster boot time and more efficient operation.

Curious about one of the trusted solutions from Lavasoft mentioned above? Keep in mind, you can try these products free of charge before you buy — visit the Lavasoft Trial Center to learn more.

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BY THE NUMBERS
How does Ad-Aware stack up to the competition? Ad-Aware uses 33% less memory during a scan than Microsoft Security Essentials; AVG takes more than 7 times longer to perform a scan than Ad-Aware. Read more in our How Fast Is Your Ad-Aware? article.
TIPS & TACTICS
Do your part for Earth Day, which falls on Thursday, April 22, 2010. Find out how to safely recycle your old PC and electronics.
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