Subscription Center

Real-time insights from the industry leader in IT.
Photo of a man using a laptop computer

It’s Time to Clean Up Your Virtual Desktop

20 Oct 2015 by Teresa Meek

If you walked through your office and saw employees’ desks strewn with teetering piles of manila folders, files and papers, you’d probably think they were disorganized. You might question how productive they could be in such a cluttered environment.

It’s the same with their computer desktops — only you don’t see them. In a world full of ever-changing apps, many workers’ PCs, laptops and tablets are so cluttered with icons that they have a hard time finding what they need. The old programs they never got around to uninstalling also slow down their processors, creating more inefficiency. Documents posted on the desktop can pose a security problem.

The Personal Computer Museum in Canada has taken note of this issue and created Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day, celebrated every Oct. 20. The museum estimated that the average person had at least 10 unused desktop icons wasting 169 acres of virtual personal space, and that was in 2009. Since then, many popular apps have come and gone, but many are probably still on your screen.

Simple solutions through virtualization

Why put up with time-wasting clutter and mess when it isn’t necessary? Providers like VMware and Citrix offer simple solutions that work like elves behind the scenes. They streamline business apps and desktops, whether they are on office PCs or remote devices. Individual owners can also take steps to clean up their computers.

Many companies today are using virtualization, which allows them to run multiple operating systems and applications on the same server at the same time, saving money and increasing flexibility and management.

With virtualization technology, IT managers can organize and deliver apps, eliminating those that aren’t necessary and putting others into folders that help workers find them.

Alternatively, they can create an entire virtual desktop.

VMware’s Horizon 6, for example, provides virtual or hosted desktops and applications through a single platform. Your IT manager can configure it to contain only the latest and greatest apps, uninstalling others and creating an appealing, uncluttered work surface. Workers get access to their virtual desktops, applications and online services with a few clicks.

Operating this way not only declutters the workspace, it allows IT to protect company resources through closed-loop management and automation.

Another solution is Citrix XenApp, which makes Windows apps available to workers on any device, encrypting access for better security; or XenDesktop, which lets IT design your organization’s own desktop infrastructure and securely deliver apps to individual workers when they need them.

DIY solutions

If you want to organize your desktop on your own, the first step is to ponder the role of your information and let your conclusions guide you in organizing it.

Folders should be displayed in some sort of hierarchy and given names that make sense to workers (not just IT geeks). Uninstall apps that no longer work or that you no longer need.

Messiness not necessary

Cleaning up a desktop, whether actual or virtual, can be hard because some people believe a mess makes them look busy. Others have the notion that messiness is a part of creativity.

But research shows that a clean desktop promotes a clear mind, helping you prioritize and work more efficiently because the information you need is not only on your desktop — you know where to find it.