March 22nd, 2016

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Digital Life

by Christine Hennessey

The azaleas are blooming, the Atlantic is warming, and we’ve finally had a few 80 degree days. It’s official: spring has arrived in Wilmington. Naturally, the first thing you’re probably thinking about is spring cleaning. (No? Just me? Moving on…)

Whether or not spring cleaning is the first thing on your mind, no one can deny that the transition to a new season is the perfect time to get organized and finally take care of all those little tasks you’ve been putting off. This year, we recommend taking a break from sweeping the floors and packing up your winter clothes, and spending some time cleaning up your digital life instead.

Many of us take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to digital clutter. But, in a world where the line between Internet and IRL is beginning to blur, those unorganized files, unopened apps, unwanted spam, and abandoned accounts can take their toll. If you want to improve your life, the speed of your computer, and the battery on your smartphone, cleaning up your digital life is a great place to start. Spring into it with these five tips:

Weed out unused applications and files.

Scroll through your smartphone and look at all the apps you downloaded. Now ask yourself: how many of those apps do you actually use? There are well over a million mobile apps in Google Play and iTunes, and yet, according to Nielsen, the average person only uses about 26 apps per month. Delete any apps you don’t use regularly in order to save space on your smartphone, not to mention time and energy. Nielsen also reports that the average person spends roughly 37 hours per month using apps, which means there’s always a chance that keeping less apps on your phone will free you up to do other things.

Back up your data.

Once upon a time we kept our photos in albums and our tax information in file cabinets. Today, all those important artifacts all digital, scanned and saved to our hard drives or in the cloud. While nothing beats the convenience of accessing what we need when we need it, these digital systems aren’t always the most secure. Files can be deleted. Computers can be hacked. An electromagnetic pulse could wipe out civilization as we know it. Make sure you’re not relying on one third party system to keep your valuables safe, and back up everything that matters most.

Speaking of security, it’s time to change your passwords.

When was the last time you changed your passwords? A month ago? A year ago? Never? You should do this regularly, and the changing of the seasons is a great reminder to keep things fresh and secure. According to a report by security company SplashData, the most commonly used passwords are “123456” and “password.” Friends, we can do better. In addition to changing your password every season, choose one that avoids names, places, and dictionary words and uses a mix of capitalization, punctuation, and numbers. Or you can use this tip from lifehacker and choose a string of four random words—it’s up to you.

Check your privacy settings.

At some point, you’ve probably taken a quiz on Facebook, or checked to see who unfollowed you on Twitter. Each time you use a third party app through your social media accounts, you grant that app access to a slew of information about you and your contacts. Check your settings on Facebook and Twitter, and revoke access to anything you don’t don’t use, don’t need, or don’t recognize. If you’re worried about how private your accounts actually are, log out and then Google yourself and see what comes up. While most of us are (hopefully) past the point of posting incriminating or embarrassingly things online, it’s always a good idea to do a period check and make sure you’re putting your best face forward.

Delete unused accounts.

Remember Meerkat? Peach? Myspace? Your tumblr account devoted to 17th century poetry? Yeah, me neither. My point is that it’s easy to get excited about the next big thing. For some of us, staying on top of the current trends is part of our job. Trends, however, don’t always pan out. Not every single website or app is going to be a good fit for your business, brand, or lifestyle. Most of the time, we simply abandon those accounts, moving on to the next bright and shiny thing. This is one form of digital clutter that can actually be a liability. For example, when the Heartbleed security bug hit two years ago, everyone rushed to change their passwords. The only problem was all those abandoned accounts—it’s hard to change a password when you don’t remember the account exists in the first place. One simple way to find and delete unused accounts is by using a simple trick from lifehacker. Simply search the phrase “confirm your email” in your inbox and then delete everything that pops up. Simple, safe, secure, and a great seasonal habit.

I hope these tips have given you some solid ideas for organizing your digital life. If you’d rather outsource these tasks so you can spend less time spring cleaning and more time enjoying the spring weather, contact Sage Island. Our marketing specialists know exactly how to keep your accounts in line and running smoothly through every season.

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