With increasing precautions — and in some states, laws — to stay home and stay safe, everyone is getting serious when it comes to washing their hands. But, what about the things our hands touch the most? We (virtually) sat down with William Stewart, IT and Digital Media Manager here at Stone Ward, to get the scoop on cleaning electronics and, in turn, keeping our electronic-lives cleaner.

Cleaning Your Devices

Think about how many times you touch your phone each day — a lot. We can be vigilant in hand-washing but still spread germs by the electronic devices we touch multiple times per day.

To clean phones and other touch screens, use a disinfecting wipe, like Clorox Wipes, or isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth or cotton ball to wipe the screen and casing. Then, dry with a soft microfiber cloth. This should be done regularly to reduce the spread of germs. William recommends staying away from soap and water or harsh chemicals in cleaners like Windex, as these can harm the coating on your touch screens or the hardware in your phone.

For laptop and desktop computers, make sure to not to spray cleaners directly on keyboards. It’s better to use a disinfecting wipe or spray the cleaner onto a soft cloth then use it to gently wipe computer keyboards and laptop casings. Avoid getting any kind of liquid in cable ports or headphone/microphone jacks. Since your hands are most often on your computer mouse or touchpad they should be cleaned regularly throughout the day with a disinfectant wipe or cleaner on a soft cloth. If you carry your laptop in a sleeve or a briefcase, don’t forget to wipe it down, inside and out, with a cleaner safe for the fabric or material.

Your Workstation

Whether you’re working from home or at a safe distance in an office, your workstation is due for a clean. Wipe down your desk, drawers, handles, landline telephone and anything else in your workspace. If you’ve been conducting remote meetings, make sure to give those cables, clickers, remotes and pointers a good wipe down, too. 

Memory + Email

Now that your work area and equipment are good-to-go and you’re settled into your workflow, you may find yourself with some extra free time while waiting for your next meeting. This is a great time to clean inside your computer. 

We all have them — too many unread emails just begging to be cleaned out. If you’re working in Gmail, for quick access to only unread emails search “in:unread”. To clear away no longer needed emails with large attachments in Gmail, they can be located by searching “size:[size in bytes],” For example, searching “Size:5MB” will display emails that are 5 megabytes or greater in size. To find large emails in Outlook, follow this path: “Search Folders” > “New Search Folder” > “Large Mail” > “Choose” > and then enter the size you wish to search.

Noticed your computer running slower lately? Your Downloads folder can slow your computer if it gets too full. Take some time to manually go through these files and delete the ones no longer needed. Another thing that can slow computer speed is your trash or recycling bin. According to William, best practice is to clean this out every three days. The place files hide that will slow your computer most is in plain sight — your desktop. Keep this as free as you can. Plus, you’ll be able to better see that vacation picture you added as a background.

Where to Store All Those Files

You’ve gone through your files, great. In your e-cleaning, you may have found some files that you don’t need every day but are still worth holding on to. There are several options for storing these files in a safe place that won’t slow your computer down. If you want to store these in a physical location, thumb drives or an external hard drive are an inexpensive and handy option. These can be purchased online from Amazon or most office supply and electronic stores. For internet storage, Google Drive comes free with any Google account. Microsoft also has a free version of online storage, called OneDrive. Apple iCloud offers 5GB of storage free and storage upgrade plans for a small monthly fee. A Dropbox Basic account allows up to 2GB of free storage, with options to upgrade as an individual or a team. There are also several tools available for migrating files from Dropbox to Google Drive or OneDrive. Find which storage method best works for you.

One of our Principles at Stone Ward is “the person in charge of making things better is you.” Building good today means “cleaning good” and taking steps to clean your space and electronics — both externally and internally – can keep you better protected and protect those around you. We hope all our clients and friends are staying safe and healthy and we look forward to building good together in the brighter days ahead.

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