Your Guide to Digital Spring Cleaning

woman looking at her computer

For many, spring is a time to start fresh.

Which often means taking on projects around the house, like decluttering and organizing. Just like our homes, our digital spaces could use some TLC too. Keep reading for a helpful checklist you can use to get started.

Step 1: Take Inventory - This helps you visualize your digital footprint and make a game plan.

  • Determine what electronic devices you own.
    • Don’t forget routers, gaming systems, smart home devices and wearables.
  • Create a list of your known online subscriptions and accounts.
    • Include email addresses, social media, shopping, streaming, payment services and online banking.

Step 2: Declutter – Chances are you have digital clutter that you could do without.

  • Unsubscribe from emails that no longer interest you.
    • You can usually find an unsubscribe link to click on promotional emails. If the email looks suspicious, don’t click the link – block the sender instead.
  • Unfollow/unfriend social media profiles that are inactive or no longer interest you.
  • Delete old and unneeded files and emails.
  • Delete unused or outdated apps and software.
    • Before uninstalling, log in one last time to remove your information and delete your account.
  • Cancel unused subscriptions.
    • You might be surprised how much money you could save.
  • Clear browser history and cache.
  • Discard old electronics safely.
    • Before you recycle or sell, ensure that your data is completely removed.

Step 3: Organize – You’ve chosen your digital essentials; make sure you can easily access and utilize them.

  • Create a filing system that helps you easily find everything.
  • Use a password manager to keep track of passwords.
    • Avoid writing down your passwords or storing them in a file on your computer.
  • Back up files with a secure cloud service, on another computer, or on an external hard drive.

Step 4: Deep Clean – Dive in to get everything up to date and ensure your settings are how you’d like them.

  • Update operating systems, apps and software.
    • Bonus points if you set them to update automatically.
  • Review and update privacy and security settings in your online accounts.
  • Change passwords to strong and unique alternatives.
  • Review and adjust app permissions.
    • Apps may request access to your camera, microphone, location services and browsing history. Consider whether you want to provide it.
  • Remove payment information from apps and websites.
    • Stored cards can pose a security risk if those accounts ever become compromised.

Step 5: Enjoy

Cleaning up your digital life comes with many tangible benefits: improved device performance, increased storage and an easier time finding what you need. But that’s not all. You’ll also have increased control of where your data is and a better understanding of how it’s being used.