My friend Marie and I recently shared a rant about external hard drives. Neither one of us are knowledgeable about these storage devices, but we were both annoyed our laptops could not magically have endless storage. We had no choice but to deal with the responsibility of being technology-dependent adults. But even with our multiple external drives, we couldn’t figure out how and when we need to move things over from the laptop to the storage drive.
This is a common pain point many of us have with our devices. We all know the devices, just like anything else from our cars to our bodies, run best when they’re maintained properly, but who has time to keep up with doing the endless required maintenance on the reg?!
I asked my more tech-savvy co-founders Andrew (Mac user) and Timothy (PC user*) to help me prevent some of the most common tech problems we’ve all experienced. Here are the basic tech chores we should all be doing.
*PC tips are loosely based on Windows 10. Just type any of the green keywords into Windows search box and it can be easily opened.
PC: If you start Task Manager, you will find a tab called Startup Programs that most people never look at. It typically contains numerous services that slow down your computer at boot and in general. If you see programs you rarely use set to “Enabled” in the status column, set them to “Disabled”. They can be started again when you need them. Advanced Users: Check your Windows Firewall for programs you want to block or control from automatically connecting and downloading data from the internet without your permission.
Mac: Restart it! Get into a habit of restarting your computer or laptop multiple times a week. It’s a liberating feeling closing out all your open programs and tabs in your browser and starting from scratch every week.
Speaking of habit, remove old programs you don’t use every few months. How many trials of programs have you started and then completely forgot about? Go into the ‘Applications’ directory on your Mac and drag all of those unused programs to the trash. This frees up a lot of storage too!
PC: Learn how to search for your biggest files and verify you still need them. In Windows, you can do this by opening Computer, searching for “Size: Gigantic”. You may be surprised to find huge files that were only temporarily used, like video or music downloads. Check Add or remove programs and sort by oldest date used. Do you still need the ones at the top? If not, uninstall them.
Archive personal files by grouping them into folders then right click -> Send to -> Compressed (zipped) folder. These can then be stored in one of these options. Have ONE general place for storing archives (DVDs, Memory cards, USB drives). Google drive gives you 15 GB free cloud storage and paid options are 100 GB for $1.99, 1 TB for $9.99/month.
Mac: Utilize the tools you have on the computer first. For my MacBook, I go into the ‘Apple Menu’ (top left corner of the screen) -> Click ‘About This Mac’ -> Click ‘Storage’ on the top of that window that displays -> then click ‘Manage’. Going through each of those options will REALLY help you find out where your storage is going and how to claim some of it back.
A program I use a lot is DaisyDisk. It (in a really cool visual way) gives you an overview of the largest files and directories on your computer that you can step through to attempt to remove it.
Another option is to use Dropbox. It seamlessly integrates on the desktop with the Mac operating system. By putting a lot of documents and large files there, you clear off your local storage.
PC: Install a pop-up blocker (like Adguard for Chrome). If you see a suspicious window prompting you to do something, DO NOT click anything inside of the window. Instead, close it using Task Manager.
Always check the “Advanced Options” when installing new programs, and uncheck anything that is clearly unnecessary.
Check browser extensions and add-ons and remove or turn off anything you don’t need to be active.
Mac: Don’t freak out! This happens all the time and there are a lot of tools out there to help you. If you think your computer is infected, download MalwareBytes for Mac and run it. It should help remove the infected files from your computer.
In order to keep this from happening in the first place, ensure your Mac is always up to date. The seemingly random update notifications you get on your computer are typically bug fixes and security patches that are constantly being rolled out. People who make viruses and malware are always looking for exploits to get personal information and Apple’s engineers are constantly working to be one step ahead of them. The second thing you should always be cognizant of is not opening or clicking anything in an email from someone you do now know! That is the leading cause of issues that people have with malware and viruses.
To keep ends from getting frayed at home, give yourself some slack and splurge on longer cables. This avoids the pulling and stretching which can fray the ends quickly.
We are cable-cleanliness-fanatics. It drives us nuts when there are cables all the desk. It’s great knowing there are others out there like us who have made some simple products to help with this issue.
Lowest Budget: Use twist ties to keep cords that rarely move tied together and out of the way.
Mid Budget: Search “Cable Management” on Amazon and you will see lots of size and color options (along with reviews) that should fit your needs for a more customized option. Here are a couple we use:
–Standard ‘Zip’ Cable Ties
–Velcro Cable Ties
–Sugru Moldable Glue – This stuff is awesome. It’s like adult Play-Doh. This is great for cords that routinely slip off behind the desk (cough, phone charger, cough). It sticks them to the desk so the cords don’t go anywhere.
Don’t have time to do everything in one sitting? Spend just five minutes in your free time and even if you put one of these practices into place now, you’ll have avoided an annoying tech problem in the future.