Saturday, July 30, 2011

How can I 'Clean up' my files?

So you want to give away your computer (how nice you are) pr you just want to clean up your personal items.

First, do you have any data to save?
  • Documents
  • Pictures
  • Emails
  • Favorites

Easiest method is to copy them off to a flash drive, then to your other computer.
Before you proceed with deleting / cleaning your old computer, MAKE SURE you have got all data you want off.

There are basically 3 methods or levels to old computer clean up.
  1. Simple file delete
  2. New User Profile
  3. Complete computer reload

 1. Simple File Delete

So this is straight forward. Just start up your computer, select the files you want gone, and press the delete key. Empty your recycle bin.

2. New User Profile

This is the main reason for this blog. You want a good computer clean out, all personal info gone, password and such, but you want to 'do it yourself'.

Since most data (documents, pictures, emails, passwords) are stored as part of your 'user profile', when you delete your profile it all goes away. And the effect is a cleaned off computer.  First you have to create a new, blank, user profile. Then you can delete your old one.

Step by step:
  1. Create New Profile
    • Control Panel
    • Users
    • Create New (give it whatever name you want)
  2. Give admin rights
    • You have to do this while logged into your old profile still.
    • Control Panel
    • Users
    • Manage another account, select user, Change Account Type
    • Select Administrator
  3. Sign into new profile
    • Log off your current user (this will be the last time you ever see or use it)
    • Now login to the new profile you made
  4. Delete old profile
    • After logging into the new profile, Control Panel
    • Users
    • Manage another account, select user (select the account you want to delete
    • 'Delete the Account'
    • You will be prompted to 'Delete' or 'Keep' files. This is the key area and the special option that allows us to safely and simple delete all our 'stuff'. So choose 'Delete Files'
  5. Restart
    • That's is. Restart the computer. You should only see the new profile. All your old stuff should be gone.

If you want to confirm its gone, open 'My Computer' and make sure the user profile is gone.
Windows XP:
-My Computer
      -Documents and Settings

Windows Vista or 7:

NOTE: Normally the user profile folder will be the same name as the username.  It is normal to see folders:
- All Users
- Default
- Default User
- Public

Don't touch these. If you want to be very thorough, do check inside the All Users and Public folders and make sure no data files (documents / pictures / music). Some programs will save files there. But pretty much never will passwords and such are saved there.

After your in the new profile, go to 'add/remove programs' and uninstall any programs you don't want to pass on. Be aware that sometimes Quicken, Quick books, Turbo Tax and the like might save data inside their own program directory and NOT your user folder. Thus you may want to uninstall these programs or go navigate to the data location and delete the files.

 Your done.

3. Complete Computer Reload

This is a common service we perform at the local Madera Computer Service Center. We scrub off the entire computer hard drive. Then reinstall the computer to factory settings. It is now 'like new'. (Yes some people can do this on their own, but for best results it is recommend that a Computer Professional perform)

At the Service Center there is a flat $75 for this service. Mention this blog post and well take $10 off.

Legal Note: I make no guarantees or warranties to the suggestions given. Anything written herein is for informative purposes. Any actions taken are done so at your own risk.

Happy Clicking!

Nathan DeSutter
IT Consultant

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