Digitial De-Clutter

Who would have ever thought that this “non-techy” person would be a digital hoarder?  I save everything…photos, emails, old notes, bill receipts, even music.  I am sure that I am not alone, right?  I even found emails and files from the 90’s when I managed grants.

When was the last time that you went to take a picture and found that your phone is out of memory. During this picture taking season of weddings, gradations, birthdays, anniversaries and countless holidays you don’t want this to happen.  Are you a hacker’s dream – the kind of person who stores everything “in the cloud”?

I found some tips about spring cleaning your digital life.  I have talked about cleaning out and getting organized but this is always an area that I tend to forget.  IT experts say it’s a good idea to clear out and refresh your digital spaces at least once a year. It keeps them running smoothly and protects your security. It’s a hassle, right?  Who wants to spend an hour or two getting your digital house in order.  The truth is that doing it could save you a huge amount of time, money, and heartache in the future. Here are few tips to get started.

Close unnecessary accounts. UGH!  That would mean that I would have to remember ALL of my online accounts. There’s email (I have four of them), social media, online shopping, banking, subscription services, and countless others that I am sure that I don’t remember signing up for until I get a random email.  If you are like me, they all share passwords and security questions which are a hacker’s gateway into your private accounts.  Take stock of your old accounts and delete anything that you don’t use regularly.

Switch up your old passwords.  When was the last time you changed your passwords?  Were you locked out of an account?  Maybe your forgot your password?  Or maybe the website told you it was time to change them.  The truth is that you should change your passwords every 6 months.  YIKES!  The new security settings on websites require you to add symbols, etc. for added protection so they are less likely to be hacked. Cyber security experts recommend enabling two-step authentication whenever possible.  I know a pain, right?  There are password managers like LastPass or DashLane. These catalog your credentials and create new, secure passwords when needed.

Change Privacy Settings:  When was the last time that you checked the privacy settings on your accounts?  I didn’t even know that some of them had privacy settings!  Haven’t touched an app in ages – delete it!   I am sure you have heard this a MILLION times – DON’T use the same password for all of your accounts.  If one site gets hacked, then they can use your email and password to access your other, more sensitive accounts.

Picture Storage: Do you use Facebook as your digital scrapbook?  Social media experts say that “social media is NOT a good place to archive your life.  It becomes this publicly accessible list of everything you’ve done and thought and said.  Imagine a world where your past relationships, long-forgotten stray thoughts, and personal baggage are not on display for any casual acquaintance to peruse!  I love DropBox or Google Photos to keep pictures in.

Clean up tools:  IT experts suggest using Facebook Timeline Cleaner and TweetDeleter that erase old posts in a few clicks.   Recommendations range from deleting personal social-media posts after a few days or weeks, depending on the platform, and after a year on professional accounts.  What do you think about this one?

Check it before you chuck it. Cleaning out old, unused, or broken devices lying around?  Are you ready to sell, give away, or recycle them?  Before doing so, think about what’s on them.  How about that old Playstation?  It could have personal information on it, such as your credit card information, name, address, and photos.  Before putting it on the curb, selling it at a yard sale, or trading it in at a place like GameStop, wipe the data using the system’s factory reset.  The goal is to make it as inconvenient as possible for someone to steal your data.  Remember to wipe the data from those old mobile phones too!

I will admit that I never think about where identity stuff lives.  Guess you will find me cleaning out my digital space on the next rainy day!  What about you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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