Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Cleaning for the Digital Age

Springtime! A time to celebrate renewal and growth. To celebrate freedom from bondage during Passover. To celebrate freedom from the tomb, real and symbolic, during Easter. To seek freedom from drek and schmutz, no matter what your religious tradition.

That would be the drek and schmutz of wayward dead leaves and twigs in the yard; crumbs and spills in cupboards. Also, digital detritus. For years, I've set aside time during Passover and Holy Week to search and purge digital detritus. Here's a short list of my best practices. Do try this at home!

Online Security
  • Ongoing erosion of cybersecurity for individuals, not just famous ones makes updating passwords a top priority. Although there are similar services on the market, I use LastPass to remember and generate new passwords. 
  • Check your browser. If you see "http://" secure your browsing change it to "https://" with HTTPS Everywhere, an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera that encrypts your communications.
  • Enable two-factor-authentication. PITA, but necessary. 
  • Review and upgrade virus and spyware protection. I use AVG and Spybot.
  • Review and delete browser extensions and smartphone apps you no longer need or use.
  • Check for updates and install them immediately. 
  • Tidy up multiple email accounts by pointing them all through one email address. Unless you have a strong reason for not doing so, set up a Gmail account and point all other email accounts through it. Use Gmail's "Labels" and "Filter messages like these" functionality under "More" to sort stuff into folders...or immediately to trash.
  • Clean out and delete the email accounts you don't use.
  • Review and delete subscriptions to eNewletters and feeds to blogs you no longer read. Exception: this blog.
Social Media Platforms
  • Review and update branding on all platforms so you're consistent across platforms. By branding I mean your: bio description, header images, color palette, logo/avatar use.
  • Review your scheduling/management software (e.g., Buffer) to ensure the accounts you want linked actually are. 
  • On Twitter: 1) Clean up follow and followers. I use a combination of WhoUnfollowedMe,  Crowdfire (previously known as JustUnfollow), Tweepi, and manually scrolling through. Use a Google search to find out other methods. 2) Review and tidy up lists, including whether you want them to become public or private. 3) If you use Tweetdeck, review and reconfigure columns to reflect your current interests and needs.
  • On Facebook: 1) Clean up your friends and Page "likes," shifting to "unfollow" if you don't want to "unfriend." 2) Tidy up the entire mess that is Facebook by using Social Fixer to filter and hide almost anything you don't want to see. 3) Review your personal timeline and delete whatever comes under the heading, "What was I thinking?"
As for hardware, I devote more time than I usually do to cleaning my desktop computer, laptops, and smartphone. I deploy a powerful combination of a compressed-gas duster, vacuum cleaner, screen and monitor safe cleaners, and cotton swabs. Don't ask how much time I usually spend.

If I add hard drive defragging, new backups, and a tour through various external drives, the whole process makes for a very pleasant day, especially if I'm listening to Mozart, the composer and Mozart, the cat, is napping.

And you? What does your digital spring cleaning include? When will you be hunkering down to do it?

1 comment:

  1. Meredith, very helpful information. Now I just need the will to put it to good use. Thanks very much!


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