With spring in full swing we are all looking forward to warmer weather, flowers blooming . . . and cleaning? Yes, there’s a good chance your weekend plans may include the annual scrubbing, sweeping, and decluttering of your home so you can just relax and enjoy the warmer weather and flowers blooming with little worries.
And while clearing clutter is an annual ritual for many households, most don’t think about freshening up their online life with a digital spring cleaning, or taking care of their overdue online maintenance, or clearing out all the digital clutter you have been ignoring for the past year (or years!). Even though it will leave you more relaxed, worry-free, and more secure against losing personal information and becoming a victim of identity theft.
Just consider the volumes of details that all our connected devices each contain about not just us, but our family and friends as well. Information like contacts, photos, and videos, along with confidential health and financial records, could easily get into the wrong hands and cause chaos, and not just for us.
Well, what are you waiting for? Don’t know where to start? We can help!
First Things First.
- Lock down your logon, meaning ensure that your passwords or passphrases for each account are lengthy, unique, and safely stored.
- Enable 2-factor authentication on all your accounts that offer it!
- Update your software as soon as you can. Don’t put this off or you may end up forgetting about it. These updates are either fixing performance issues, and security weaknesses and flaws that could leave you and your data exposed. Having the most current security software, web browsers, and operating systems are some of the easiest ways to protect your data.
- Secure your home router by giving it a strong passphrase that does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as “the Jones Family” or “123 Elm Street.”
Digital Decluttering with this checklist. Embrace the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!
- Uninstall the software and any apps you are no longer using on computers, and mobile devices.
- Establish guidelines and a plan for which records you need to keep and for how long, for both your digital and physical records. Then permanently and securely dispose of all old or unnecessary records and data.
- Unsubscribe from newsletters, email alerts, and updates you no longer read. This will save space, and keep email out of your inbox and away from a thoughtless click on a link or file that could be malicious.
- Securely dispose of any old devices, including hard drives, laptops, tablets, copy machines, and fax machines, etc. Many “shred day” events include safe destruction of electronic equipment and files as well from banks and well-known organizations. For your mobile devices, make sure all your data has been wiped from the first.
Cleaning Up Your Online Presence.
You should always own your online presence. To do this you should be reviewing the privacy and security settings on accounts you use, both business and personal accounts, and who has administrative access to your online accounts. You should only grant access to someone you trust and who may need it in an emergency.
Next, clean up your social media presence (this could be the fun part). If you haven’t done this for a while, or ever, start by reviewing all photos you have posted. And not just of you, but of others as well, deleting old, unnecessary, unflattering, questionable, or embarrassing photos, or any other photos that may not reflect what or who you are at this time. Then do that same for posts or comments that are old or questionable. Finish by deleting any old accounts you no longer use.
Going forward, you need to share with care! Think about what you are posting, and about whom, and limit the amount of personal information you post or keep online. And not just about you, but about others as well! Lastly, you need to learn about and use all privacy and security settings available to avoid accidentally sharing information widely. There are available ‘helps’ online to learn about these, then you just need to use them.
So by now you should have successfully created a plan to take care of your digital spring cleaning, along with your annual physical spring cleaning. Once you are done with both you can really relax and enjoy whatever comes next knowing that you have done your best outside your home and with everything inside your home.
So relax, enjoy, and stay SAFE out there!