Your house may be neat and clean, but what about your computer? Stockpiling old files, downloads, and programs can slow down your PC, and even affect your WiFi speed.

In January we wrote about the importance of removing old software and drivers you aren’t using. But deleting old files you don’t use can also have your PC- and your WiFi connection- running much faster.

Recent studies suggest most computer users do not delete programs like installers or zip files after they download and/or extract their contents. These files remain on the hard drive needlessly taking up disk space.

The more files you have on your computer, the more disk space you take up, that's easy to figure out. But filling up your hard drive can slow down computer and Internet performance because:

  • System maintenance procedures take more time to complete, using system memory while running.

  • Daily backups to your backup service or external hard drive take longer, decreasing bandwidth available on your network for your computer and other devices, and slowing down the computer in the process.

  • Indexing programs such as Microsoft’s search tool or Google Desktop search use system memory to index files on your computer. While these programs are indexing, system performance drops.

If it takes 10+ seconds for something to happen when you click on an icon, or web pages seem to hang for a while and suddenly appear all at once, it may be time for some spring cleaning. Windows users can use a free program like TreeSize (http://www.jam-software.com/treesize_free/) to locate areas of their hard drive that take up the most space. Common locations are your My Documents folder, your Downloads folder, and locations where you may download video or audio files.