When was the last time you cleaned your computer keyboard, or sucked out the giant dust bunny growing behind the desktop? Spring is a good time to clean your home-based tech gear so it can last longer and perform better. While you’re doing that, don’t forget to tidy up your software and programs to help everything run more smoothly and securely.
Here are some tips to clean up the digital debris.
1. Clean everything. Computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones – all this gear hates gunk. The stuff that collects on screens and keyboards, and works its way into your tech gadget’s inner workings, slows performance and shorten your device’s life span.
Don’t scrub it. Moisten a soft cloth and gently clean your screens, keyboards and protective cases. Give the whole device a slightly damp rubdown to remove a lot of gunk. Canned air and cotton swabs are good for getting to hard-to-get places. Wipe your tech gear down regularly and you won’t have to replace it as often.
2. Back up your data. (One terrible day you’ll be so glad you did.) Cloud storage services can automatically upload computer files daily.* Outboard external hard drives can automatically back up files to your settings. Burn a disk of all key files periodically and store it off-site in case of a real catastrophe like a flood, robbery, or house fire – a disaster that can happen in the blink of an eye.
Chances are, your computer contains personal information that you’d hate to lose. Protect the important stuff by backing it up now and then.
3. Clean your hard drive. First, uninstall all the programs that are at best taking up space, and at worst, may be monitoring all your online activity. Cookies are often part of a download, whether you realize it or not.
Go to the control panel. Click on Uninstall. Follow the directions on the screen. Repeat as needed. Simply removing the icon from your desktop does not remove the program from your hard drive.
You can also use the control panel to clean out your system’s cookie folder and the temporary Internet files stored on your hard drive. It’s a good idea to do this during Spring Cleaning, and regularly throughout the year.
Note: When you clean out these cookies and temporary Internet files you may also delete passwords to key accounts. You may have the option to save passwords depending on the operating system used. So…
4. Spring Cleaning is a good time to change passwords and permissions.
- Bulk up passwords with numbers and punctuation symbols.
- Change passwords often, not just during Spring Cleaning.
- Use different passwords for each online account you maintain.
- Check parental filters to see if your computer-savvy teen hacked into your parental controls file. Change your password again.
- Never give out your password – even to a trusted family member or friend. It’s like handing them the keys to your Internet life, and you don’t know who’s going to have access to your passwords and your files.
5. Update your computer’s security software. You probably missed a few updates from your computer security company. Go to the security watchdog’s site to download protection from the latest malware, and help keep your home computers, smartphones, tablets, and other gear secure.
Spring may be a good time to upgrade security. Add a hard-wired firewall. Download warning software that gives you a heads-up when you’re headed to an untrustworthy website.
Click here for more information on internet security, including links to free tools.
Sure, vacuum the drapes and clean out the garage, but don’t forget to use Spring Cleaning as a good time to clean your home tech gear inside and out.
*For more information about using the cloud for backups and to increase security, view our on-demand webinar, Insights: I.T. Security and Cloud Computing.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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