Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Cleaning? Don't forget to Digitally Declutter #TheDigitalJoneses

Last week Trend Micro challenged all the members of the Digital Joneses to add a digital "decluttering" to their Spring Cleaning chores list.  So for the past few days, I traded my bucket full of cleaning supplies for a spot on our red comfy couch and went to work.  Truth be told ... it's still a work in progress, I realized fairly early on that this digital cleanse was way overdue.

Before I delve into my own digital clean-up, I want to mention two great sources of reference to use when performing your own Digital Spring Cleaning.  I used both guides extensively as I worked my way through each aspect of our digital lives.  One is Trend Micro's Digital Spring Cleaning Checklist and the other is TrendLabs Digital Life E-Guide: Putting an End to Digital Clutter.

I began with our mobile devices such as my mobile phone and my iPad.  My goal with mobile items was to delete unwanted and unused apps, organize the apps I had left into tidy little cabinets, and then maximize the device's security settings.  I should mention that according to Trend Micro, "apps can eat as much as 75% of your smartphone’s battery life".  I review several apps per month on the blog, so as one might guess I have a LOT of them.  The various apps can quickly start taking over my devices if I don't stay on it.  Deleting the unwanted apps and sorting the remaining ones took quite a while, but it's one of those tasks I immediately benefited from when done.  It's so much easier for the kids and I to find the apps we really want now.  For my own sanity I'm going to have to do a better job of keeping this up as I go along.  As for security settings, I made sure all of our devices require a password for anyone to access it and adjusted access on each of the apps to only allow what I felt was truly needed.  The kids and hubby cleaned up their devices too, and my daughter already sees a difference in her older phones battery life.

As a side note, if you have an Android device, you can install the Trend Micro Longevity battery Saver to determine which apps are guilty of draining your precious battery.

Next, I worked on cleaning up our Digital Reputation in terms of Social Networking sites.  This included streamlining contacts lists, verifying privacy settings, removing access to unneeded or wanted apps from my account settings, and double checking posted photos and comments for items we might later find uncomfortable.  All in all, I was far more organized in this area.  To my credit, I'd recently cleaned up Twitter and Facebook friends for my personal account, so that part was already done.  It's nice to connect with classmates from 20 years ago, but I'm not sure they need to be privy to my family's every move.  I'd also done a fairly recent privacy settings check and an app access sweep, so the only thing left for me to do was to have a look at my timelines and photo albums.  Keep in mind that what may have been a funny photo of a 10 year old could be the source of bullying at 14, so have a good look at what's there.  I had a look at my blog's facebook page as well before helping hubby and kids take a look at their personal accounts.  Thankfully I was only momentarily derailed by hubby's request to help him update to Facebook's new timeline layout complete with a cover photo.

Now for the computers ...  The task here was to clear the browser's caches, uninstall programs I don't use, empty the temp internet folders as well as the recycle bin, avoid hoarding programs, run maintenance and trouble shooting checks, and perform any updates needed.  And once I'd done all of that, I was tasked to sort out my email and documents. (Suddenly it's all very clear why Trend Micro didn't reveal the tasks before I signed on to this experiment!)  My emails were a mess and while the majority of my documents were organized, my photo files SCREAM hoarder.  I'm still working on cleaning those photo files up.  I must confess that I have 55,000+ photos slowing down my main computer right now.  I'd estimate that 3/4 of them are images I could and should just toss out.  I also need to change my ways, I download the photos I take, use a couple in a post or on Facebook, and never go back to delete the horrible shots.  It's going to take a while, but my goal is to delete the near duplicates and insure everything is fully backed up.  The good news is that, with the exception of my photos, important documents on my computers hard drive are now backed up (via Trend Micro's Safe Sync) and actually on there because I really need them.

For confidential documents I used Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security’s Vault feature for added protection.  When the vault feature is turned on, it provided you with a password protected area for you to drag and drop documents you'd like kept private.  Store legal papers, financial spreadsheets, tax information, personal records, those photos from before you lost 10 pounds, your top secret cookie recipe, or even your child's christmas gift list.

Last but certainly not least, don't forget to manage your passwords.  Be sure to use different passwords on different sites and don't neglect to change them from time to time.  Trend Micro suggests every 3 months.  Not sure if your password is strong enough?  Try this Password Strength Tester.

Please note our family has received products from Trend Micro to help us examine the challenges contained within this year long study. However all opinions, thoughts and statements expressed here are our own.

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