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It’s spring: Out with the old!

Organizing and cleaning up your digital life has gotten easier

Spring is here, which many people will greet with determination to clean out a lot of junk – from closets, garages, desks, and so on. But what about your digital life? As it turns out, that too will benefit from some reasonable spring-cleaning. It really won’t take long, and the results may be every bit as satisfying as throwing out those smelly old running shoes growing a new form of life in your closet.

Below are some tips for sprucing up your digital life.

Don’t pass on secure passwords

What do 12345, 123456789 and 123456 have in common? They are, in order, the most commonly used passwords of some 10 million passwords analyzed from data breaches in 2016. Regardless of whether your passwords have much in common with these or not, this is a great time of the year to change them – all of them.  Research shows that, given the opportunity, nearly two out of three people use the password for all log-ins. Change them to oddball combinations of letters, numbers and symbols such that they are almost bulletproof.

Of course then you’d be left with a potentially large number of passwords that almost no one could remember. One solution to this that appeared recently suggested that you ‘write down your new passwords and store them in a safe place.’ Wrong! There probably is no safe place they can be stored that you can actually access easily and quickly. That is one of many good reasons why it makes sense to download a free password manager that will do all the work of creating complex passwords and remembering them for you.

Make mobile security meticulous

Smartphones are the most used digital device, and as such are loaded with data. Photos and videos consume huge swaths of phone storage. You may want them but do you need all of them on your phone? Download them to your computer or backup cloud service. There are lots of great, free products out there for helping both Android and iPhone users get more phone memory instantly and give a boost to battery life as well. Some of these apps can actually identify poor quality photos that you probably don’t want anyway, as well as duplicate photos.

In addition, there are more smartphone apps available than you might think – two million and counting both for Android and iPhone. Accumulating them is easy, and can consume memory. This is a great time to take stock of what you have, deleting the ones you simply don’t use any more. Even if you don’t use them, they may well be permanently connected to the Internet for notifications, consuming your mobile data and battery as they do so.

Finally, the network providers are in a state of constant flux as they jockey for subscribers with what may seem like increasingly generous data plans. Comparing these plans can be a colossal headache, but worthwhile if you can save $10 or more every month for the same or better service. This vendor-independent site and search engine can help you compare and contrast all that’s out there. And if you have an iPhone, go to settings and turn off Wi-Fi Assist, which can be a data hog. Turn it on only when you need a cellular signal at times when the Wi-Fi connection is a poor one.

Urban renewal for your digital world

Perhaps the single most important spring-cleaning task for your computer is to be certain the stuff you really want is properly backed up. Think of all the things that can go wrong – from a hard drive failure to a ransomware attack to a lost or stolen computer to a freak electromagnetic impulse. Stuff happens! Cloud backup is cheap and easy with many first class service providers. And for really important files or photos, consider secure file storage.

Other considerations: Be absolutely certain your antivirus and other security solutions are in place, currently versioned, and working. Shovel out your email by moving or deleting in-box items that have been hanging around and insuring your spam filters are functioning.

None of these common sense spring-cleaning suggestions take much time or effort for that matter. You’ll end up creating lots of new space on your devices, and you know the saying: Junk expands to fill the space available. Undoubtedly it will.