18 Aug How-to: Starting your new semester with a fresh PC
It’s finally summer! All year you’ve been writing essays, programming applications and drawing intricate schematics for classes you didn’t even know were part of your curriculum. In your hurry you probably saved files wherever was convenient for the moment, arguing with your inner-self that you would clean your desktop at a later, more relaxed time. But you didn’t, right?
What The Faculty will provide you with a comprehensive guide to start your next semester with a fresh PC (or Mac), ready to be cluttered again. And don’t worry: I won’t let you mess around with your system’s quirks and advanced methods, as chances are your beloved laptop will become screwed up.
Sorting out the mess
Where did you save that essay you handed in January last year again? Whether you use Dropbox, Google Drive, some other cloud service, your local or removable directories or all of them at once, it is most likely that you’ve not been consistent with naming them. Furthermore, it might be the case that you didn’t even sort all your files in appropriate folders.
The first step is thus to evaluate your current structure. Where did you keep all your files and what might be a better method to archive them? These folders are already in a tree-structure, but it can be wise to manually draw this tree, either digital or on paper, to get an overview on how you might improve. An example of an ideal structure can be seen below.
You might want to bring all your files together, instead of spread over a spectrum of services and drives. Though, you should always observe redundancy as well as the chance of accidentally dropping your PC in ‘t IJ after having one Amsterdam brew too many. Therefore it might be wise to copy your entire structure, of course after restructuring it first, to Dropbox (or some other cloud service).
Use consistency in naming your files, as it will make it easier to search for them later. Furthermore, don’t forget to check your ‘Downloads’ folder, as it is likely both the fullest and the least sorted.
Sort out your programs and plugins
Especially the IT-oriented students might suffer from this, but I have no doubt every individual studying at the Faculty of Science has at one point had to install programs or download plugins to be able to complete a course. Whether it is the key to analyse the entire dataset you need for your thesis, or only a route to streamline your code by a single function unavailable in your vanilla IDE.
However, these take up precious storage space. While some rare laptops with over a terabyte of space where spotted on campus, most of us have to deal with 500 gigabytes or less. This number is even more limited when you consider that most students do not have the monetary resources to buy a separate device for their vast movie collection.
You probably know these ‘only-useful-once’ programs on your own laptop better than I do, which means I cannot give you a comprehensive list of software you can delete at once. However, I can suggest you evaluate these programs and either delete or categorise these.
Do your updates!
Last is the most important aspect of both keeping your device secure and of being able to obtain the fullest productivity. You should update more! Not only might it be the case that developers added new features to their programs, it is also very likely they fixed bugs and security breaches that are – unfortunately – present in almost every single computer program. Now is your chance to upgrade to Windows 10, available for every user of a legal Windows 7 or 8 installation. Mac users will have to wait a little longer for El Capitan, which is currently in beta. Furthermore, updating your software, such as Evernote, might bring you new features that could’ve been useful during your last semester
“That’s nice and all, but those pesky update notifications interfere with my workflow!” Well, now is the perfect time to catch up on these delayed updates. As the famous quote goes: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is now.”
Your anti-virus program should have the highest priority, and should thus be updated first. Secondly, to be fully safe you might want to switch your passwords once in a while. Finally, you might want to upgrade to an entirely new piece of software. Developers might have developed better solutions to the problems you face every day.
I’ve kept this how-to as global as possible, and I’m sure I cannot judge on what programs you need to delete and what file-order is best. Therefore I ask you: What are some tips on maintaining a clean PC that you have for your fellow students? Let me know in the comments!