7 laptop maintenance steps you should do regularly to keep yours happy

When you buy a laptop, you do so with the intention of using it for a long time. Unlike phones, which are upgraded every two years, some people go years without a computer swap. And why would you? As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well, owning a laptop is like owning a car. With proper maintenance, gentle use and regular care, your appliance will last for years to come. Ignoring important factors like cleaning and manufacturer updates can lead to a machine malfunction which is frustrating to work with.

If you want to get the most out of your beloved laptop, you’ll want to follow these 7 essential maintenance tasks every month. These tips will not only help you extend the life of your computer, but they also apply to every brand of laptop. So strap in and get your compressed air ready—your laptop is about to get some much-needed TLC.

This tip is brought to you by Dell. Don’t do it alone when you need the right technology for your small business.

1. Clean Up Your Hard Drive by Removing Old Files
Whether you use your computer for work or just for leisure, there are many files floating around that you are no longer using.

This can include old photos you’ve already uploaded to Facebook, music tracks you’re no longer interested in, or leftover installer files left to rot in your Downloads folder. Tap or click here to clear these files, which will free up valuable space on your hard drive and help free up memory so your computer can run faster.

Before embarking on a massive purge of your system, take care to make sure you avoid any “critical” folders that contain the files your computer needs to run. On Windows, these are mostly found in the System32 folder.

Apple hides important files so that the user doesn’t pull anything funny. Keep in mind: Deleting important system files will prevent your computer from running at all, so when it comes time to cleanup, make sure you’re only deleting files you know you won’t miss.

Here’s a tip: Start in the Downloads folder. People download images, videos and installer files which sit here collecting dust. You won’t believe how much space you’ll get by just dragging them into the recycling bin and clicking “Empty.”

2. Declutter your desktop with a little help from Windows or macOS
A messy desktop is ugly. No one can argue with this. Cleaning your desktop takes a little bit of know-how. Sure, you can just click and drag the icons until you have some similar sequence, but that could take the time of your day – and you’ll probably have an hour to fiddle with the mouse. I have better things.

Thankfully, both Windows and macOS have some automatic organization options for their respective desktops.

On Windows, simply right-click on your desktop wallpaper with your trackpad or mouse. Next, hover over the Sort option and choose Name, Size, File Type, or Modified Date. Start by selecting a name as it presents your icons in alphabetical order. Once you click it, your icons will be neatly arranged in a row – to pick and choose which programs stay on and which programs run.

On Mac, all you have to do is right-click or Command+click and you should see a menu option that says Clean Up. Clicking on it will automatically rearrange the icons on your desktop.

If you don’t see Clean Up when you right-click, your system may already be configured to arrange the icons in a different way. To check, click Desktop and choose View from the menu bar, then Sort, and then choose your preferred way of organizing.

For more information on customizing your cleanup, click here for Apple’s support guide on the matter that can guide you through alternative options like stacking and changing the size of your icons.

3. Clear your browser’s cache and cookies

It’s an essential part of keeping your computer (and web browser) fast and secure. Even browsing the Internet normally results in a large number of cookies occupying your browser files, so taking the time to delete them can work wonders.

There are many browsers, each with different methods of cleaning temporary files and cookies. Thankfully, we’ve covered most of them in one of our previous articles – tap or click here to read about it – about the importance of deleting cookies regularly.

Since most of our readers use Google Chrome, it’s worth refreshing the process for this popular browser.

In the Chrome window, click the three-dot symbol in the upper right corner of the browser.

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