When warm weather brings thoughts of spring cleaning, digital devices are sometimes overlooked. They may not be dusty but there can be a lot of clutter built up in our smart phones over time. Just as a clean household is more efficiently functional, phones, tablets and other computer devices will perform better when given a bit of a cleaning. Neglecting to keep a tidy device can impact your online security as well.
Keep a clean machine.
Here are some tips from your Better Business Bureau regarding digital spring cleaning:
• Don’t ignore software updates. Every update notification should be followed up on. These include security software (especially!), browsers, document readers, operating systems and any other software used regularly. Scammers and hackers are constantly taking advantage of weaknesses in programs. Updates are a way of staying ahead of them.
• Lose it if you don’t use it. All of those never-used apps that are just taking up space on your screen, as well as memory, should simply be deleted. Freeing up the space will increase your device’s processing speed and your battery life.
• Clear your cache. If you’re not sure how to do that, do a search for “How to clear cache in (insert name of your preferred browser such as Internet Explorer). Follow the steps outlined.
• Delete, delete, delete. Delete all those old emails, messages, photos and voicemails. Then be sure to empty your trash or recycling bins. Get rid of bookmarks that you don’t make use of.
• Keep a neat desktop. Rearrange your apps, placing the frequently used ones on your home screen. Make use of folders to organize apps and files better.
• Review and revise your contacts. Delete old ones, create lists and merge duplicate contacts.
• Unsubscribe when uninterested. Newsletters, email alerts and subscriptions that you regularly ignore should be discontinued.
Keep cyber security foremost in mind
• Stop postponing password revision. Change your passwords so that they are longer, combine capital and lowercase letters, and mix in numbers and symbols. Use separate passwords for separate important accounts such as banking, email and social networking. Write down passwords and store them away from your computer.
• Review the settings. On social media sharing websites you use frequently, review the privacy and security settings. Limit with whom you share information. Err on the side of caution.
• Rethink what you’ve shared. Consider deleting old photos and comments that you may have posted in the past if they do not represent who you are. Anything embarrassing should be gotten rid of. Take your comfort level into account and act on it.
• Find yourself. Search for yourself online and see whether the information you uncover is accurate. Become more aware of what is available to those who look you up online.
These are just a few of the many ways possible to organize, clean up and add efficiency to your online experience. Most of us take our online lives for granted. This spring after you’ve swept out the winter dust and cobwebs, take some extra time to scrub up your digital devices as well. Businesses can do a cyber safety check-up with BBB’s “5 Steps to Better Business Cybersecurity” at bbb.org/cybersecurity. If you have questions about ways to clean up your smart phones, tablets or other computers, contact your BBB by calling (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.