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Junk piling up on computer

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:31 pm
by seahermit
My elderly artist friend wanted to change from a laptop to a desktop PC and just before Christmas I helped her to buy quite a nice Acer with a 24-inch monitor. Little did I know what I was taking on!

My friend is not good on technology (putting it politely), so she has been dependent on others to help her and to sort out problems when they arose. What seems to have happened is that several different people have put in their two-penceworth, changed things around but of course each set up things in different ways and not co-ordinated with each other. Nor has anyone impressed on my friend the importance of doing any computer maintenance, or done any on her behalf.

Consequently, her old laptop became so overloaded with junk of various kinds that it crashed completely and I am finding the same process building up on her new PC. After her documents and folders were moved over to the PC, I have spent hours deleting hundreds of empty folders, abandoned documents, scraps of this and that, scattered all over the PC in different locations .. Twenty shortcuts were scattered over the desktop, taskbar, other locations, all leading to the same few destinations - email etc. It has been a total nightmare!

My friend has a number of accounts with art groups, shops, energy suppliers, all the usual, but they were full of wrong or out-of-date addresses, personal details, phone numbers etc. and in most cases the passwords were long forgotten! She has never deleted a single email in years, so I am currently working through almost 4000 old emails and trying to rescue what might be important. In Gmail, somebody had created over 20 folders (labels as Google call them) - some of them were empty or hundreds of emails appear in several different folders at once!

I wondered if anybody had some brilliant suggestions to make, in order to bring some order into what at present is largely chaos. Obviously one thing I must do is set up as many filters, blocks and "unsubscribes" as I can, to reduce the sheer quantity of rubbish coming to her Gmail account.

I am trying to set up a system of listing all her different accounts (and four email accounts!) with passwords (when I can finally find them), protect the whole lot in a secure place and grant access to just one or two trusted friends.

I have never encountered anything like this before. My brain has never had to work so hard and I may be staving off dementia!

Re: Junk piling up on computer

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:38 pm
by Richard
1) Create a new folder (perhaps labelled 'Junk' or 'mystuff') and drag most icons and folders into that, except for essential ones, then when you or your friend needs to use the ones she finds she needs she can fish around in the 'new' folder and perhaps drag ones out which seem essential.

2. Disk Cleanup is a utility built into Windows. It lets you reclaim space on your hard drive by deleting old files and cache.
Delete missing shortcuts, there is a utility for that but I can't remember it.

3) Set one password (or more) for item(s) and store it in a text file for when she forgets it/them).

4) Set up email priorities:

Hard work to sort out the backlog all at once, but prioritising may help in future.
Also try a 'Search' for common names, addresses, and words to round up similar emails so you can deal with them en masse. Move old emails into archives without doing any reading. For example, search for a client’s email address and do the same. You can clear out hundreds or thousands pretty quickly using this method.

Re: Junk piling up on computer

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:00 pm
by seahermit
Thank you Richard, I appreciate that.

Yes, sorting through the junk is one of the most tedious jobs, I can't see how it can be hurried or old files deleted - you have to keep them around for a while in case there's something vital in there!

Disk clean-up - it is supposed to happen automatically at times, but it isn't always super-efficient and I need to root around and see what has been left behind.

Email priorities - thank you, that was in my mind, some ways of sorting stuff into groups according to common topics, common contact names etc.

In the long run, the trick is to not reach this state of affairs in the first place. My friend is a brilliant artist producing some beautiful paintings - but utterly disorganized! I think she is going to need someone looking over her shoulder, or atleast the one which is operating the mouse ..