Friday, January 4, 2013

Resolution #2 - Backup Your Computer

While making New Year's resolutions, consider the health of your computer. Use some of your time off to backup your computer files.  Unless you are backing up your entire computer (which is wise and will be discussed below), you will need to know where your data is located.  A smart way to make sure that you don't forget anything is to always save documents and files under the My Documents or My Pictures or My Videos directories on your computer.  Don't save important items to the desktop or anything else.  Some applications, however, automatically save your data to another location, so be careful of that.  For instance, if you use Outlook as your email client, you can change the settings so that it will your outlook.pst file in My Documents (make called email or Outlook) instead . Programs like Quickbooks can also be configured to save your data wherever you want.
If you don't have much data, you can simply backup your data onto a USB flash drive.  Be sure to store your data in a safe place, like a fireproof safe. 

If you have a lot of data or you don't want to risk losing program files on your computer, consider using an online backup program.  IntegriTivity uses Carbonite, which is currently $59/year.  This is only slightly more than purchasing enough USB jump drives to hold all the data and also offers the peace of mind that comes with knowing that it's taken care of automatically.  Carbonite can be set to backup changed files when you don't use your computer.  There are limits to how many computers can be backed up on the basic plan, but if you have a home network, you can make a practice of saving all your data on to one computer and have those files backed up to Carbonite or whatever "cloud" company you choose.
The advantage of an automatic backup of your computer is that it will actually happen.  The new year is a great reminder to get it taken care of, but you should be backing up your data more than once per year!  And do you really remember to change the batteries in your smoke detector and the filter on your furnace?  If not, seriously consider making your computer backups automatic.

If you have a website designed by IntegriTivity, rest assured that your website is doubly backed up. One copy is the live website on the Internet itself and one is the development copy of your files that IntegriTivity has backed up nightly.
If you don't have a website by IntegriTivity, check out our work from  IntegriTivity specializes in web design and search engine optimization and marketing but also offers a variety of other computer solutions.

Resolution #1 - Clean Up Your Computer

Chances are that you've done a lot of cleaning over the holidays and afterward.  Don't forget about cleaning up your computer!  It's good to clean up the data on your computer at least annually, if not monthly.  To start, you'll have to spend some time getting rid of unwanted files.

Go through your data and purge unused information.  If you're not sure, you can always back it up (the subject of the next blog post) and then delete the copy on your computer afterward.
Consider unwanted programs.  Depending on your operating system, you'll have a Control Panel somewhere that will have something like "Programs and Features" (In Windows 8, you'll have to pull up the Start Menu, then right click at the right bottom corner of your screen and choose All Apps and then look under the Windows System section).  Let Windows list all of your programs and then look for old applications that you know you don't use that you can uninstall. Caution is advised because if you are not sure what an application is, you might really honk up your system if you delete it.  If you're intent on removing a program but aren't clear what it is, Google it first to find out! There are a number of programs that are used by your operating system or browser that you should not get rid of.

Once you've gotten rid of extra data and programs, you need to clean up the files that are often left behind.  An easy way to do this is to download the free CCleaner program and run it on your computer. It will clean up temporary Internet files and other junk as well as fix your registry (which is the database which stores the configuration information for your system). This program can also analyze what programs are running when you startup your computer so that you can disable those which you don't necessarily need.  Disabled programs will still be started when you launch them, but not before that.
Cleaning the outside of your computer is not a bad idea either.  Take a look at the back of your CPU where the fan is; chances are there's a mat of dust back there that should be vacuumed away. This step, as well as making sure there is adequate air flow behind your computer will help keep your fan from working too hard. Spray air is available in a can form to help you with dusting your keyboard. To get rid of yellowing from smoke in the air or general grunge on the keyboard/mouse, use alcohol on a cotton swab to clean the plastic portions.  Your screen should only be cleaned with a formula designed specifically for use on your computer monitor. (Surely you don't have fingerprints on it, though. Right?)

Once your computer has been cleaned inside and out, you'll need to back up your data. Stay tuned for more information on that topic as well as tips for website owners.  Need a web designer? Check out for samples of our professional and affordable websites!