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 or by removing the malware 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.
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 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?
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. While you’re at it, you might also want to clean the touchscreen on your smartphone or tablet. In my PC Spring Cleaning Checklist, 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 underneath your desk.
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 – once and forever.
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. 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!
What do you usually do while you’re installing the operating system?