March 25, 2013

Detoxing your Technology

Happy Spring! We all have probably (hopefully) started some sort of spring cleaning project. It may not be a  full fledged scrub down, but I'm sure you've given your homes a nice thorough rub down and opened the windows and let those musty winter smells out. Of course we mustn't forget to clean out your technology too!
May the Spring Cleaning commence!

We've all heard of viruses, and I'm sure you all have some form of antivirus on your computers. However, these rarely also protect you from Spyware or Trojans. These bad boys aid in gathering your information without your consent or knowledge. Typically it was used to see what types of ads marketers should show you, it can also be malicious such as logging your passwords, your visited sites, and whatever else it can get its hands on. Sometimes these can be as annoying as full-fledged viruses, because they can sometimes now allow you to visit sites that you want to.

I use Spyboy Search & Destroy frequently at work for all of our company computers. I'm going to compare it those blackhead removing nose strips. As soon as your done, you just stare in aw of all the nasty junk that it just pulled out that you didn't realize was even there. I dare you! Try it, you'll be impressed with the stuff you didn't know was slowing down your computer.

Download it here for free

Clean Out Your Temporary Folders
Hoarders called, they want to run an episode on your computer.
You'd be surprised how much crap your computer saves over just a short period of time. Every single little thing you open gets saved in your temp files, regardless of if you saved it to your computer or not. This happens most when you open documents from the internet or email attatchments. The computer has to save it somewhere in order for it to open, it can't just open it from space, therefore everything gets saved into your temporary folders.

For windows users, the easiest way to clean this out is to type in %temp% into the search bar of the start menu. Just hit enter and it will open up your user's temporary folder.
Go ahead, oooh and ahh over how much garbage that has accumulated in there. Next, delete it ALL. Yes, every single thing can go. If you even think about combing through this folder, and I find out about it.. I will hunt you down and gut you like a fish. Seriously, you are a hoarder if you do. I've seen people with up to 10 gigs of files in here. To put that into non technical terms, most people don't even have 10 gigs worth of stuff on their entire computer. So go ahead, clean it out.

Decrapify Your Life
By this I mean, all of those useless things that you have on your computer, especially all of the bogus stuff that came pre loaded. I have this snazzy little program that will scan your computer and list all of the programs and unnecessary start up items and icons that can slow down your pc. After it scans you'll be reminded all the stuff you've downloaded and you never actually use anymore. This will also remove all of those pesky toolbars nobody likes anyway.

Download it here for free

Now, I don't expect you to ever clean your email down to where you have 0 messages in your inbox. That's asking a lot. However, you can easily go through and rid yourself of all of those newsletters, some of your confirmation messages, and other messages that have sense been resolved. Also, don't forget that you can empty out your deleted items, sent items, and junk mail to free up some extra space. The OCD person that's buried deep inside of you will sigh with relief.

Also, if you are like me, you probably get a million newsletters a day. Don't automatically delete them! I know you probably aren't going to read them the 1st time nor the 982374 time groupon tries to get you to buy a basket weaving underwater lesson, but hear me out. If you'd scroll down to the bottom of the email, simply hit unsubscribe, they'll leave you alone. I hear so many people complain about constantly getting bombarded with emails from stores everyday, when they could stop them with just a few simple clicks.

Part 1 - Contacts
Go through your contacts. If you have people you honestly couldn't tell me who they were or where you knew them from. Chunk them! I am not going to tell you erase ever person you haven't talked to in the past year. That's a bit extreme.. but I will say, we all have contacts that we couldn't place if we ever passed them again in a dark or well lit alley. So even if you ever did need to contact them, you wouldn't even know who you were looking for. Also go through, and add lasts names or descriptions for you contacts if you know them.

Part 2 - Pictures
I know I'm not the only one who takes multiples of every picture. Clean out the multiples, or the originals that you already instagrammed. Back them all up to your computer or an external hard drive. If it's something you haven't used in months, go ahead and get rid of it. I mean hey, it's backed up if you really need it.

Part 3 - Apps
My name is Megan, and I am an app hoarder. (Hi, Megan)
I promise to heed my own advice on this one. Get rid of those huge apps you never really use. Like for me, it's a barcode scanner that never actually works when I want it to or my Geocaching App (Don't you even judge) that I only use once in a blue moon. If worse comes to worse, you can easily reload that little puppy on there.

Part 4 - Voicemail
I'm sure you are tired of reading by now, so I'll just keep it short and sweet. If it holds no sentimental value, and you've already responded to the message, let it go.

Back, Back, Back it up
If you don't already own one, go out and buy an external hard drive. They cost next to nothing. Heck, depending on how much data you have, a large USB drive will do. Back up all of your files, pictures, music, and whatever other embarrassing crap you may have floating around there. It never hurts to take a back up of your hard drive just in case your computer decides it hates you and will never turn on again, or that faithful day you leave it sitting on top of your car and drive off.. or if you are like Billy's grandpa, and you spill coffee all over it. Luckily I was able to use some equipment from work to retrieve his data, but not everyone is lucky enough to have the tools to slave a hard drive at their disposal.

Kind of like changing the batteries in your smoke detector, you probably will never need it, but you sure as hell hope you have it in case of emergency.

Note: That I am not responsible if you click on the wrong thing or accidentally delete something you didn't mean to. Proceed at your own risk. However, these are very user friendly and I have faith in you.

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