Spring clean your business – Part 1
While spring might be the season for cleaning and de-cluttering your home and business, most people don’t think their computer warrants more than a cursory dust and polish. However, a good computer spring clean, both for the software and hardware, can make a world of difference. In just a couple of hours you can have a faster and more efficient PC, all for the fraction of the cost of a new one. We’ve divided the tips up into three categories – easy, medium and hard, based on the time it takes and the level of technical expertise required. Let us know how you get on, and send us pictures on Facebook or Twitter of your newly de-cluttered and shiny computers and office spaces!
Taking inspiration from the traditional spring clean; the inside of your PC needs just as much dusting as the rest of your office, if not more. Take a look at this rogues’ gallery if you don’t believe us. Dust in a computer essentially acts like a blanket, causing the entire computer to heat up. Computers work best when cool, and will crash if they get too hot. Removing built up dust and fluff can improve computer performance and stability. To remove the dust from a desktop PC, simply remove the side of the case and use a can of compressed air to blow the dust out of the computer. Pay particular attention to the processor (the square in the centre of the motherboard), as well as any fans that you can see. Don’t forget to keep a Hoover on hand to get rid of dust that you’ve blown out of the computer. The problem is worse on laptops as they are prone to getting too hot due to their smaller size. While it is harder to get inside a laptop, at the very least you can blow compressed air through any exposed vents to clear dust from the laptop’s cooling fans. Most laptops have removable panels on the case to allow access to the main components, so refer to your laptop’s instruction manual to find out the best way to get inside and remove built up dust.
While even the filthiest keyboard and mouse can be salvaged with some alcohol wipes, compressed air and a bit of elbow grease, new peripherals can work wonders. Wireless devices can free up desk space, giving you more room to work without cables getting in the way. Many modern keyboards and mice also come with time saving shortcut buttons for the things you do most often, such as opening a browser or email client. You can even get wireless keyboards with a built-in touchpad if space is particularly short. The right type of wireless tech also means that your wireless devices can be used with a range of devices. For example Bluetooth keyboards can be used with many mobile devices as well as compatible PCs, and Logitech’s wireless products will work on any computer with the right USB dongle.
Improve your workspace
If you’ve ever seen the ‘Featured Workspaces’ on productivity blog Lifehacker, no doubt you’ll have been amazed at the clean, uncluttered and productive workspaces some people have made themselves. Why not use your spring clean as an opportunity to do this yourself. Think about what you use the workspace for, whether you need everything that’s there, and recycle or give away anything you don’t need. Also take this opportunity to think about the ergonomics of your workspace set up. Have a look at this guide if you’re unsure. If your monitor isn’t at the right level, invest in a monitor riser and free up some desk space. You can also use laptop cooling stands to raise the height of your laptop and reduce its operating temperature. Cushioned keyboard rests and mouse pads can also improve workspace ergonomics as well as aesthetics.
Often not thought about until it’s far too late, a good backup plan is like having insurance for your data. It doesn’t take long to set up, and once you’ve done it you won’t have to worry about it again. We’ve discussed it before here on the blog, but considering how cost effective and easy it is to do, it bears repeating. Data loss can cost a business a significant amount, yet backup solutions only cost a fraction of this. Windows 7 comes with a built-in backup solution, allowing you to back up automatically to an external HDD. For extra peace of mind you can get fire proof and water proof drives, or even look at offsite backup options.
We’ll be giving our more involved spring cleaning tips over the next couple of weeks, so keep checking back for more advice on improving the computing experience in your business.