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January Is National Clean Up Your Computer Month

By Haley Jones

Nowadays, computers are much like humans, with similar needs and functions. Much like a human needs food to operate, a computer needs a charge to run. Just as humans can dirty and bruise their exterior skin, so can computers. Although it may be less visible to the human eye, the amount of dust and micro-sized particles that dwell in the cracks and crevices of keyboards can shorten the life of the device. A report conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona found that “the average human keyboard contains 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat,” (

Before discussing how to clean the external components of a computer and the internal software, it is helpful to understand why it is necessary. According to Norton, an American software company that helps users with cybersecurity, one of the biggest reasons to clean the interior and exterior of your computer is to promote the longevity of the device.

“Regular cleaning protects your investment and your data. When you wipe off the screen and empty crumbs from your keyboard, you’re helping your equipment perform better, and you reduce the risk it will break down,” (

Additionally, Norton reports that cleaning computer software protects data and acts as a preventative measure for keeping viruses, malware, and cybercriminals out of the system.

According to Proofpoint, a firewall service that blocks viruses, spam, and phishing, “a computer virus is a malicious application or authored code used to perform destructive activity on a device or local network.”

Users should beware of numerous viruses and software. In fact, DataProt reports that “there are more than 1 billion malware programs in existence, and roughly 560,000 new malware programs are detected each day.” As technology rapidly advances, so does the download and disguise of faulty programs. DataProt also found that “7% of websites through Google held malware, after a detection screening.”

The nine main viruses are boot sector virus, web scripting virus, browser hijacker, resident virus, direct action virus, polymorphic virus, file infector virus, multipartite virus, and macro virus. According to TitanFile, outside of those nine, there are also malware like trojans, spyware, adware, rootkits, and worms. The good news is that for every virus and malware that exists, software engineers have designed programs to detect and delete the imminent threats.

Rest assured — the average computer user does not have to be a software expert to understand how to use a software cleaning program. Computer cleaning applications typically require a download and installation process, which then takes the user through a screening process that highlights any infected files, faulty applications, or privacy breaches a computer may be hiding. However, many free downloaded applications fail to detect viruses and malware, so it is important to properly research a program before trusting it.

Computer Network (CNET), an American website that publishes reviews and articles on technology, lists a comprehensive database of trusted computer cleansing programs. The website lists hundreds of apps utilized for security and sorts them based on “featured,” “most popular,” or “new releases.” Additionally, viewers can see programs for Windows, Mac, Android, and IOS. To access this list, users can google “CNET software reviews” and click the first link.

While data privacy is important, malware and viruses can also affect a device’s processing speed, meaning the computer runs slower. According to Webroot, malware that is unknowingly downloaded can be responsible for slowing processing speeds and may even cause the computer to shut down entirely.

“Malicious threats such as spyware and computer viruses may be at work, tracking your activities, tampering with your files, and stealing personal information,” Webroot said. “You visit a website, open an email message, or download a picture. Somewhere in your normal online computing activities, malware silently loads itself onto your computer. Once on your PC (personal computer), it sets up shop by installing itself in many places. This makes it difficult to remove and can lead to disruption of all the files and programs to which malware has attached itself.”

Technology is rapidly evolving, leaving users with a plethora of information at the click of a mouse. However, rapid growth also allows for an expedited exposure to criminal activity that threatens personal and valuable information. Just like the human body fights off dangerous germs and diseases with preventative measures, computer users can do the same by being proactive with computer cleaning programs and using best judgement when downloading and opening new files. It is likely impossible to prevent any malware from ever entering a personal computer, but the more prepared a user is, the faster the safety can be restored, and crisis can be averted. Technology users should treat their software and devices like a patient and be ready to play doctor with the help of software application experts.

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