Security 101 02-14-2022

Happy National Clean Out Your Computer Day


Today is a special day for a lot of reasons: Valentine’s Day is all about spending time with your love and the lesser-known National Clean Out Your Computer Day is about spending some alone time with your laptop.

Well, what’s more romantic than staring at a computer screen by yourself? Okay, so it might not be your first choice for a Valentine’s evening, but if you don’t have a hot dinner date, you can have a chill date with your laptop (no need to dress up).

All jokes aside, cleaning out your computer really is a great security practice that has been celebrated annually in the U.S. since 2000. So, whether you’re reading this on Feb. 14 or later, just know that spending time keeping your computer organized will save you time and headache down the road.

Over the years the threats facing your computer have evolved and so should you. Make #CleanOutYourComputerDay a part of your annual routine to keep your computer optimized and more secure. You can celebrate National Clean Out Your Computer Day with just these three steps: organize files, update old programs and delete what you don’t need.

Organize your files

It’s time to get organized. Just like your brain, storing too much on your device can cause it to slow down and not function at peak performance. Clean up your folders, files, shortcuts and bookmarks so that you can find things on your computer. By right clicking and selecting “auto-arrange” you can easily sort your desktop files.

You depend on your faithful computer for everyday tasks, so keep it organized to save you time in the long run hunting for files. After all, it’s better to prevent problems than to deal with their aftermath.

Update old programs

Keeping your programs and system updated is always a best security practice, because software updates may install critical security patches, and failing to install an update can leave your device vulnerable. So stay protected with regular software updates.

Ideally, you should set your software and programs to update automatically, but we all know how annoying it can be to update your computer when you’re in the middle of something. That’s why setting a dedicated time to update it ensures that it gets done and you don’t get interrupted.

Additionally, if you have old programs that you hardly ever use, delete them to save your computer’s energy and space.

While you’re at it, you can also scan your device for viruses. Just like the wall around your heart, you can use a firewall to protect your computer from harm.

As the popular mantra goes, if the virus found time to become a better version of itself, so can you. And so can your computer and software.

Delete what you don’t need

Just like you do after a breakup, you should remove any unnecessary baggage from your computer that you don’t need taking up space anymore. Extra files and programs can cause your system to slow down and clog the memory of your device. Just delete them. Plus, it can save your storage, so you don’t have to pay for cloud storage.

Here’s a list of things you could delete from your computer:

  • Emails
  • Photos
  • Junk files
  • Duplicate files
  • Empty the trash
  • Browser history
  • Old apps and programs not in use

Basically, when it comes to love and computer files, use it or lose it. If you have critical files stored on your device, back them up before you start your cleaning spree. You wouldn’t want to accidentally remove something important.

To clear up space on a Mac:

  • Click the Apple icon in the top left of your screen
  • Click About this Mac > Storage > Manage
  • You will see some recommendations to save storage

To clear up space on Windows:

  • Go to Settings > System > Storage
  • Sort by the largest files
    • Delete files you don’t need
  • Go to Settings > Apps & Features
    • Delete apps you don’t need

Bonus: Clean out your phone

Similar principles apply to keeping your phone organized, up to date and clutter-free. So go ahead, delete all those contacts who ghosted you. You don’t need them anymore. And while you’re at it, set your apps to update automatically.

To set apps to auto-update on an iPhone:

  • Open the Settings App
  • Tap App Store
  • Scroll to Automatic Downloads
  • Toggle App Updates to on

To set apps to auto-update on an Android:

  • Open the Google Play Store app
  • Tap your profile icon in the top right corner
  • Tap Settings > Network preferences > Auto-update apps

National Clean Out Your Computer Day doesn’t always fall on Feb. 14: it’s the second Monday in February each year, but this year it conveniently provides those of us who are alone a great distraction from the lovely-doveyness of Valentine’s Day.

If you want more tips on how to be secure online, check out the DigiCert guide on how to know if a website is secure.


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