As the warmer weather of spring arrives, our minds often travel to thoughts of a major cleanup to remove all visible reminders of dirtier winter days.  We painstakingly de-clutter, pack away boots and snowsuits, and do our best to make sure our house will be ready to run smoothly all summer long.  

One area of the home has a tendency to go unnoticed during this annual spring overhaul, and it is an area that could cost you dearly if neglected.  The personal computer is an essential component in the daily lives of most, and it too needs a good spring cleaning to maintain peak performance.  Dust, dirt, pet hair and various other particles can build up within the cooling vents of your machine, causing undue heat and stress on the central processing unit.  This overheating is the biggest cause of component failure in computers and laptops, and could cost you a bundle in repair and maintenance fees.  

You can do an at home cleaning of your equipment, using some inexpensive supplies you can purchase at your local computer or office supply store, and household items like cotton swabs and lint-free cloths.

The entire system will need regular cleaning to keep running at optimal performance levels.  The keyboard, monitor, and mouse all need to be properly maintained, as dust and debris will eventually cause damage to your computer's parts, or at least a decrease in function.  Monitors should be cleaned every week, while your mouse and the keyboard can be cared for monthly.  

If you're uncomfortable dismantling and doing the cleaning yourself, don't hesitate to find a reputable computer repair shop like The Computer Shoppe to do it for you.  It might cost a little, but it's worth it to avoid a total system collapse!

Your computer's bits and pieces aren't the only thing that needs a good spring tune-up.  We've all encountered a slow running system, and know how maddening it can be.  You need to thoroughly scan your system's inner workings to make sure you're clear of any spyware or viruses that may be putting a wrench into things.  There are programs you can download to remove malicious software, and free scans that identify and remove viruses that may be hiding in the depths.  If you've done home scans and there still seems to be a problem with viruses and such, you'll want to get your computer professionally checked out to avoid permanent damage or infections.

A disk cleanup tool is can help you find extra space on your hard drive.  Use it to remove temporary files, programs and system components you no longer use, and downloaded files you don't need.  It will also empty your recycle bin, freeing up lots of wasted space and getting things running a little faster overall.

Another way to speed things up is to run the Disk Defragmenter on a regular basis.  This will, in essence, tidy up the files stored in your computer, making them easier to read and write, thus cutting down on overall running time.  You'll also want to run the Defragmenter any time you add a large number of files, install new programs, or your available disk space is less than 15%.

Consider running a weekly scan that will check for any disk errors, in order to run optimally and prevent data losses.  An upgrade to your operating system is also worth trying, to make sure things are moving at the best possible pace.  Remember, computer upkeep is not an option, it's a must!