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Spring Clean your Virtual Clutter


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Spring Cleaning is more than a ritual. The physical act itself helps us feel lighter, more organized, and more prepared.

Your tech life is no exception. If we don’t do regular maintenance, it’s easy for our devices to get disorganized, run out of memory, or just become annoying to work with.

Just as you give your home a thorough cleansing, now is the perfect time to go through your digital devices and ditch items that are irrelevant.

Here are a few tasks to consider:

Keep your accounts safe by refreshing your password

Ditch all those Post-It notes with usernames and passwords decorating your desk. Not only are they a security concern for your personal and business accounts, they’re unnecessary clutter.

Consider using a free password manager, such as LastPass, that records and stores usernames and passwords in a "vault" only you can access.

Login to your LastPass account with a master password, and the rest is at your fingertips. LastPass offers a Google Chrome browser extension that makes it available anytime you log into Chrome.

LastPass also offers a premium plan, which allows you to sync your account on all devices and access your passwords via the mobile app.

Another option is One Password, which manages sensitive online shopping data and credit card numbers in addition to account passwords.

Manage the email marketing madness

Emails can be overwhelming. Some people receive hundreds a day. Rather than delete emails you don’t want, take a few seconds to unsubscribe from email lists you may no longer be interested in.

Deleting those pesky, sporadic messages is a short-term solution, but unsubscribing works in the long run.

Look for newsletter marketing preference options in the future whenever you are required to provide an email address in a web-based form. There is usually a checkbox that you can deselect to prevent unwanted emails from businesses and services.

Also consider using a burner email address when signing up for things online that may only hold temporary benefit to you.

A burner address is a disposable address that lets you sign up for services and click on the verify link in the sent email without using your personal email.

The address vaporizes after a predetermined amount of time, and you don’t have to worry about being on some unwanted mailing list. is one such solution.

Backup your hard drives

In many states, it’s illegal to drive a car without insurance. You don’t need it to operate the vehicle, but if something happens, you’re covered.

Backing up your personal computer is a lot like auto insurance.

According to a 2013 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 30 percent of computer users have never performed a backup.

And while sign-up sites like Carbonite and Mozy offer cloud-based services that run in the background, you can do it yourself pretty cheaply.

The price of a computer memory has gotten incredibly low now. You can get a 2-terabyte external hard drive for around $150. That’s a little more than seven cents per gigabyte!

To compare, an eight-gigabyte USB drive will run you about $12. Which seems like the more logical investment?

Sift through your social media accounts

Consider giving your social media profiles a new spring look by using a new photograph, editing or updating your profile bio, and checking to make sure old links are still active.

It also wouldn’t hurt to check around your account’s privacy settings – especially on Facebook.

Your social media site of choice may have sent you a notice about your privacy settings, but now that it’s in place, do you know how much control you have over what’s public?

Remember your family and friends may be less stringent with their settings than you are. As a result, your updates and information may be available to others you don’t know, including photos.

Untag yourself from photos that reflect badly on you to ensure you present a consistent, professional image. Start with the oldest photographs and work your way forward.

More and more companies and hiring departments are reviewing social media accounts. A general rule of thumb is: If you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, delete it from the Internet.

While spring-cleaning your digital dust bunnies can be time consuming, the process can be cathartic. More importantly, it ensures that the information you’re being bombarded with on a daily basis is relevant.

By eliminating the messages you no longer need, you remove distractions that keep you from being your most efficient.

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