Spring is here. For most of us that means, scrubbing the house, cleaning the garage and locating the lawn mower that you shoved into the shed, never to be seen again. We spring clean our houses, spruce up our yards and put so much time and effort into making the physical things in our life seem new again. But what about our digital life? Managing our digital and online clutter is just as important as spring cleaning our house. So what should you do to spring clean your digital clutter?
Free Yourself from Unwanted Files
Go through your computers files. Discard the ones you don’t want or need. Then empty the trash can or recycle bin so you can’t go back and retrieve them later. Use the rule of 12. If you haven’t used the file for 12 or more months, you probably don’t need it. If it is an important file, like a bill, medical information, or tax forms, put it in a folder labeled “Important Documents” and leave it on your computer where you can access the files at any time.
Manage Your Media
File your music, photos and other media in the appropriate folders. Make them easy to find by keeping them on your desktop where they can be easily seen. You can keep your desktop clutter free by making a master media folder and then creating sub folders for the different media formats. Just like with your files, go through and delete any media you don’t want or need to keep anymore. Deleting the unwanted files will free up space on your hard drive and give you the ability to download other media in the future.
Pick Your Programs
Did you download Picasso thinking you were going to edit all your vacation pictures, but then forgot to do it? Uninstall the programs you don’t use anymore. This will help speed up your computer and reduce the risk of you having potentially malware targeted software taking up space on your hard drive.
Strengthen and Store Your Passwords
Review all your passwords. Strengthen and change them as you see fit. Make sure all your passwords are unique and use letters (Upper and Lower Case) and numbers. If you have a lot of passwords to remember download and use a password manager. Password managers help you by remembering all your passwords so that you don’t have to. Not sure what one to use? Try Last Pass.
Back That Data Up
Ideally you are backing up your important data all the time. However, if you haven’t done it in a while…or ever, consider doing it now. Use a portable hard drive or cloud service to make sure that your files exist in a place outside of your home or office. This will ensure that if anything happens to your computer, like it crashes or implodes, you won’t lose all your data.
ReInstall Your Operating System
Once you have successfully backed up all your data you might consider reinstalling your operating system. While it may not seem necessary with modern technology, it is always nice to start fresh. Reinstalling has the potential to speed up your computer. Not sure how to reinstall? Just do a google search for “How to reinstall Windows/MAC (insert version here).”
Set-Up Internet Security
You should get an antivirus, antiphishing and antispyware software as well as a firewall. If you already have them simply perform updates to make sure they are running at their optimum level. If you don’t, do your research and choose software the will best meet your needs. If you want to add an extra layer of security you can get a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for the time you use free wifi. Try ProXPN for free and see what all the the VPN hype is about.
Refresh Your Phone
Go through all your devices and perform system updates. Then review and delete any unwanted apps to free up space. Use that free space to download a security app for your phone. These apps can help ensure that no one is hacking into your phone’s data. Both iPhone and Android users can try Lookout for free in the app store or on Google Play.
Do these 8 simple spring cleaning tasks and eliminate the digital clutter from you life. Making it a priority to organize your digital life will help give you peace of mind. So in-between dusting the ceiling fans and shampooing the carpets, take a few minutes to clean up your digital clutter. Trust us, you will be glad you did!