While keeping devices and networks free from virtual clutter has always been an important aspect of operational efficiency and cybersecurity, the widespread practice of working from home has highlighted the criticality of “cyber cleaning.” Most home devices and networks were not designed for the rigors of everyday corporate use, much less when combined with personal pursuits such as gaming, social media, etc. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic alerted us to the dangers of infection on many fronts, including those from malware and unsecured networks.
However, cybercriminals aren’t the only consideration. Resource intensive applications, background processes, adware, and even uninstalled applications can slow down your computer. Performing some DIY cyber cleaning tasks to clear up your disk space can lead to more efficient performance and a better user experience. Follow these steps to streamline your computing experience.
Disable Unnecessary Startup and Background Applications
Have you ever realized that you are late for a meeting and gotten stuck waiting endlessly for your computer to boot up? You’re not the only one. One way to expedite the startup routine is by getting rid of unnecessary startup and background applications like barely-used updates, outdated group policy settings, and potentially malicious adware.
To disable startup applications on a Windows machine:
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager and choose the Startup tab. If Task Manager opens in a small window, you won’t see the tabs until you select the More Details option at the bottom left or expand the window.
- Review the list. Windows gives you a hint on what you should focus on by categorizing each app as low, medium, or high startup impact.
- Right-click on the app and choose search online to find out what the application does if you don’t recognize it. (You’ll want to keep your security software.)
- If it isn’t vital to the operation or security of your computer, right-click again on the application and select Disable. You can always go back and Enable again if you choose.
When you have completed disabling applications, restart your computer.
To disable unnecessary background applications on a Windows machine:
- Go to Settings, then choose Privacy.
- Under Privacy, choose Background Settings. If you don’t see it, simply type Background Settings into the search window.
- Here, you have two options.
- Switch off the toggle under “Let apps run in the background” to turn off all background applications.
Leave the toggle on and individually select which apps to turn off.
Uninstall Unwanted Applications
You may be familiar with the bloatware that is installed on your phone by default. You may have also noticed that there is a lot of it that comes preinstalled on Windows and Mac computers, as well. To uninstall unnecessary applications that come with Windows 10, simply right-click on the tile in the start menu and choose Uninstall.
To uninstall unwanted apps on a Mac:
- Open Launchpad by pinching your thumb and forefinger together on the trackpad or choose it from the Applications folder.
- Press and hold the Options key until the icons start shaking.
- Choose the x next to the app you want to uninstall.
- Select Delete to confirm.
Clear Out Unknown or Unneeded Files
Freeing up disk space can help many aspects of your computer’s performance. Temporary files and downloads are just two examples of the type of clutter that collects on your computer. By emptying some directories, you can speed up applications and free up memory.
For Windows computers, use the Disk Cleanup routine:
- Type Disk Cleanup in the search window and choose it at the top of the results screen.
- At the bottom of the screen, select the button to Clean Up System Files.
- Select Yes if prompted for approval.
- Click the Delete Files button when prompted.
- Windows will remove the unneeded files.
On a Mac, you can make some choices that will keep your computer clutter-free by using the Storage Management window. You can take advantage of the cloud instead of local storage. By using the option to empty trash automatically, any deleted items over 30 days old will be removed. Reduce Clutter lets you review files.
Perform Antivirus and Web Protection Scans
Now that unnecessary and old competing software is removed, you need to use antivirus and web protection tools to do a full scan and cleaning of the PC. On most computers, it is as simple as finding and clicking your antivirus software’s emblem in the system tray at the bottom right of your computer. As it runs, it will quarantine files to remove. After scanning, cleaning, and emptying the quarantined files, the PC can be rebooted to start enjoying a much faster, responsive, and more secure environment.
Now that you’ve finished cyber cleaning your home devices, it is time to look at network intrusion detection. How is your organization looking at its overall cybersecurity? Bold Group provides a variety of security intelligence services that can help protect you against cybersecurity threats.
Author Bill Brousseau is the Director of Technology for Bold Group – stages