SPRING CLEANING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

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Going Beyond the Household

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

The middle of February had many of us hiking in the 60+ degree sunshine, concerned about water for the year, and generally preparing for spring and summer. Spring … was in the air! Along with the freshness of spring comes our desire to also freshen up the house with a little “spring cleaning.” But how about tidying up your technology this spring too? Here are a few spring cleaning tips for your digital life.

 

Back It Up

Your PC data, your phone data, your photos, and even your music should all be backed up regularly. You never know when the next disaster will strike or when the blue screen of death will ruin your day and destroy your data lifeline.

A few weeks ago my less-than-a-year-old Samsung Galaxy S5 phone died on me. No warning signs, no blue screen of death, nothing…it just died. And my very first thought was “$h!+. I have not backed it up lately.” Yes, I took a lot of flak from my fellow technologists about not regularly backing up my data, but I am normally great at backing up my computer files. I am the person who has an external hard drive that backs up my external hard drive that backs up my laptop, along with three flash drives that I carry with me and regularly back up important files. So this was a rude reminder that backups are no longer limited to just my computer. Back up everything, including your phone.

External hard drives are fairly inexpensive and any size from 120GB – 500GB would be perfect for your most important files. Kristy Ellington of Popsugar recommends copying your files over and then storing that external hard drive in an airtight fireproof safe to ensure its safety. Depending on the criticality of your data, you may want to consider backing up nightly, weekly, or monthly.

 

Change Those Passwords

For many of us, changing our password every 90 days is a little extreme. For most of us, we’ve never changed our personal email password since the day we set it up. So this spring, you should seriously consider updating and changing all of your online passwords – email(s), bank accounts, credit card accounts, social media accounts, etc. Think about all of the breaches and hacks happening in the world right now and protect yourself with an updated, strong password.

Consider using phrases rather than single words, and include a combination of capital letters, numbers, and special characters. For instance, my Wells Fargo password is Eye<3M0nk3y$! (I heart monkeys!). Ok, that really isn’t my password, but it is a good example of a phrase with a crazy combination of letters, numbers, and characters.

 

DO NOT WRITE YOUR PASSWORDS DOWN! Or store them in an Excel file. There are plenty of password vaults out there that you can store your passwords in and only have to remember a single “Master” password to open the vault. Check with your anti-virus to see if one comes with your subscription or consider something like KeePass for your personal and professional password safekeeping.

 

Other digital spring cleaning items to consider and for more information see Popsugar’s 31 Straightforward Ways to Spring Clean Your Tech:

  • Auditing/Cleaning your social media accounts
  • Adding a second monitor to increase productivity
  • Organize your computer “Desktop” by moving files into folders
  • Finally download and install all of those computer updates
  • Delete any unused Programs from your computer or Apps from your phone
  • CLEAN your suuuuuper dirty smartphone
  • Organize and clean out your email inbox

 

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