As the ground begins to thaw, trees bud and flowers start to poke through the mulch, we consider the tasks at hand to prepare our home for the summer months to come. Known as Spring Cleaning, this is a time to dust off the mantles, sweep under the rugs, and clean the windows, inside and out.
So, let’s throw open the windows and let in the fresh air but not forget about our digital stuff.
Here are 7 steps you can take to help keep your data secure and stay more productive:
- Review your online accounts: Look through your old history and bookmarks for online accounts you no longer use. If you don’t plan on using these accounts or services again remove all personal information and fully deactivate and delete the account. Doing this will help cut down on unwanted emails and minimize the exposure of information on the internet.
- Change Passwords: It is a best practice to change passwords regularly, so let’s add this to the Spring Cleaning list. When selecting a new password in today’s digital world, it is very important to make sure you follow a few important guidelines. Try to never use the same password twice. Make the password complex (12 characters, including capital letters, special characters, and numbers).In reading this, I am sure you are feeling quite overwhelmed. To help simplify and manage these passwords consider using a password manager to safely manage and store your credentials.
- Remove old applications: We have all done it. Someone tells us about this new trending game app, we go on a trip and want an app to help us navigate the local area, or we need the latest emoji. Not only do these unused programs take up space, but they also are a security risk. Just like your computer needs updates to stay secure, so do the apps that run on it. If you are no longer using individual apps, they are likely not being updated. Let’s sweep them out the door. Simply uninstall the ones you no longer use.
- Purge data: In the year 2022 many of us have been storing data for 20+ years. Think about that- 20 years of data all stored in a single place. Take the time to review your files and folders to see what data is no longer relevant. Deleting or archiving this data not only frees up space- but also minimizes security risks in the event the data is compromised.
- Recycle old hardware: Whether it is the basement, a hall closet, or the garage, you know you have the box, or boxes, of floppy disks, old keyboards that have turned yellow, and the first desktop you ever purchased that came with a 15” tube monitor weighing 25 lbs. Since computer components are 95% recyclable, don’t just throw them out. Find a local technology recycler to take it off your hands and dispose of it responsibly.
- Sanitize: Living in the years of a pandemic, I am sure we all know the importance of sanitizing our hands. Your computers are no exception. Take a minute to look at your keyboard or mouse. I mean a close look. Now you get it! There are a few simple steps you can take to enjoy a clean and safe workspace.First, make sure your computer and monitor are turned off and unplugged. Use alcohol-based wipes to clean your computer case, mouse, and keyboard. Purchase a monitor-specific microfiber cloth or screen cleaning wipes. Never apply the liquid directly to your computer or components. Allow everything to air dry completely before turning it back on.
- Chase away dust bunnies: Everyone loves bunnies, and we have one as a pet. But no one likes the ones that blow across the floor, hide in corners, or under furniture. Some of the biggest and most gnarly ones like to live in your desktop fans and tower.Again, with the computer turned off and unplugged, use compressed air to remove the dust from the exterior front and back of the computer. Open the tower case and thoroughly blow off all inner components. Dust acts as an insulator causing components to run hot, so make sure you get it off everything. TIP – If possible, take the tower outside to perform this task.