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It’s creeping up on you like the dark and suddenly you notice it has happened again: It’s time to re-install Windows!

When the lack of speed becomes unbearable, you can try to speed up Windows with a RAM upgrade How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step Is your laptop old, slow, and has the hardware never been upgraded? Working on a slow computer can be a real drag. Before you buy a completely new one, however, you should consider ways to... Read More or by removing the malware 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More you might have picked up. The most thorough way to bring your computer back to speed, however, is to re-install the operating system; or restore, refresh, or reset Windows 8 How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More .

Or maybe it’s not a speed issue at all, but you regret upgrading to Windows 8.1 and just found out that the only way to downgrade to Windows 8 How To Upgrade To Windows 8.1 & How To Downgrade Back To Windows 8 How To Upgrade To Windows 8.1 & How To Downgrade Back To Windows 8 The Windows 8.1 update is free, easy, and gives you access to new and improved features. It is, however, impossible to simply downgrade to Windows 8, unless you plan to before updating. Let us show... Read More is to re-install it.

In any case, you’ll be stuck at your desk for a while! Rather than letting the computer waste even more of your time, do something productive, while watching over the installation process. Here are some ideas.

Clean Your Computer

When was the last time you wiped your screen or cleaned your mouse and keyboard? Chances are, your computer hardware is dirtier than your toilet. After all, you don’t wash your hands before you use it, you touch it all the time, and if you eat at your desk, you probably have crumbs and spots all over it. And you were worried about a virus? What about all those bacteria?

Tech Germs Infographic

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While you’re re-installing your operating system, you can’t do much with the associated hardware, but you could give it a quick cleaning. If possible, disconnect and turn off the units you want to clean. If you have a laptop, use lightly dampened cloths only and — obviously — make sure no liquids drip into your device.

We have previously explained how to clean an LCD screen The Best Way To Effectively Clean LCD Monitor Screens The Best Way To Effectively Clean LCD Monitor Screens Read More . While you’re at it, you might also want to clean the touchscreen How To Safely Clean Your Tablet Or Smartphone's Touchscreen How To Safely Clean Your Tablet Or Smartphone's Touchscreen Cleaning a touchscreen is simple. You don’t need a special cleaning kit or cleaning solution to safely clean your tablet or smartphone’s touchscreen – you can do it with materials you probably have on hand.... Read More on your smartphone or tablet. In my PC Spring Cleaning Checklist A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your PC Part 1: Hardware Cleaning A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your PC Part 1: Hardware Cleaning With the arrival of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, houses across the globe get a nice cleaning to rid them of dirt and clutter that has accumulated over the past year. Dust and junk also... Read More , I wrote about cleaning a keyboard:

You can carefully vacuum the keyboard to remove loose particles and dust. Afterwards, wipe the keys with a lint-free cloth that is lightly dampened. Finally, disinfect the keyboard using alcohol wipes or spray some alcohol-containing cleaner on your cloth.

Use the same procedure for cleaning your mouse and carefully wipe the light diode with a Q-tip. Just don’t use aggressive cleaning agents; water, household vinegar or a bit of cleaning alcohol will do just fine.

Clean Up Cable Clutter

Have a look under your desk. What do you see?

Nobody is save from cable clutter. And with the growing number of devices and no affordable wireless charging solution in sight, the issue spreads like an epidemic across households and rooms. Certainly your desk is affected. So while Windows is doing its thing, maybe you have a chance to crawl under the desk and do some cleaning.

If you have a laptop, plug it directly into an available wall socket. Then you can unplug and rearrange all your other devices and power strips. If you have a desktop computer, simply unplug everything you don’t need and sort those cables; you can do the computer and monitor cables last. This article has some tips for cleaning up the cable clutter 5 Ways To Clean Up Computer Cable Clutter Under Your Desk 5 Ways To Clean Up Computer Cable Clutter Under Your Desk Cable clutter is one of technology's biggest annoyances. While it's easy to conceal your messy cable collection in a closed box, the cables that catch dust under your table are a completely different story. Try... Read More underneath your desk.

sort cable clutter

Sort Your Cable Storage

We all have a drawer or box/es full of random tech gear. Do/es yours contain an ungodly amount of cables? You probably get frustrated every time you need to get one. Well guess what? There is an easy solution to tidy up that mess!

All it takes is a bunch of empty toilet paper rolls and a smaller box to hold them. Yes, you will be collecting toilet paper rolls for a few weeks, but the next time you have to re-install your computer, you will also sort out your cable clutter Drowning In Cable Clutter? Cable Storage Tips To Tidy Your Home Drowning In Cable Clutter? Cable Storage Tips To Tidy Your Home Read More  – once and forever.

Anti Cable Clutter Box

I arranged my own cable box (pictured above) so that both ends of each cable poke out. This way I can immediately tell different cables apart and it only takes a second to find the one I’m looking for. Kudos to berserk, who shared the toilet paper organizer box idea on Instructables.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Generally, re-installing Windows is worth the time invested. You’ll end up with a clean and responsive operating system. And if you productively use the time it takes to get through the installation process, you’ll even have a physically cleaner computer and an organized desk.

Once you have a fresh setup, customized to your needs and preferences, be smart and clone your hard drive How To Clone Your Hard Drive How To Clone Your Hard Drive Copy the entirety of one hard drive to another. It's called cloning, and it's an important process if you want to replace or upgrade the primary hard drive in your computer. Cloning isn't the same... Read More . It’s much easier to restore your computer from an image of a working Windows installation, than to start from scratch. And whatever you do, always make backups of your files 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More !

What do you usually do while you’re installing the operating system?

Image Source: Lisa Brewster via Flickr, Tech Germs Infographic via Keeping It Kleen

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