It’s easy to let your digital data build up into a big, scary mess. Because it is often out of sight, we frequently forget just how much personal information builds up on our devices and accounts. We’ve broken down the best digital spring cleaning tips into a 3-week action plan that you can tackle this month to clean up your digital life.
Stage One: DELETE
- Clean up your contacts and friends lists.
- Delete/uninstall apps and programs you are no longer using.
- Delete accounts on websites you are no longer using.
- Delete old emails and unsubscribe to email lists you no longer want to receive (#inboxzero anyone?).
- Wipe and destroy old hard drives and other devices that you no longer need or want—external hard drives and USBs, tape drives, embedded flash memory, wearables, networking equipment, and office tools like copiers, printers, and fax machines may all contain valuable personal information.
- Delete your old and unnecessary files. Just hitting “delete” on your files isn’t enough; data remains even after you send it to the recycling bin. Check out these tips for the proper disposal of data and electronic devices.
- Clean up your photos and check your settings to see if they are being automatically uploaded to any other locations.
Stage Two: UPDATE
- Back up important files to a secure cloud service or to another device where they can be safely stored.
- Check that all of your mobile apps are up to date.
- Confirm that all of your computer software is up to date (we recommend setting your software to automatically update).
Stage Three: PROTECT
- Enable multi-factor authentication on as many accounts as possible.
- Use a secure password manager to store all of those passwords that you definitely don’t have written down on Post-it Notes.
- Review privacy settings on social media websites.
- Secure your router and don’t use names that can identify you (like “The Smiths”)—bonus points if you get into a network naming war with your neighbors.
- Lock your phone.