- Posted by Noni Cavaliere
- On March 20, 2018
We tend to think about spring cleaning as being an activity left for our homes and maybe offices. But have you considered that spring cleaning also needs to be done to your digital presence and footprint? We’ll walk you through the four parts of cleaning up your online life.
This is a cleaning task that should be completed every few months. It is a very basic first step to digital cleaning. This step is important so you can make sure that all web-connected devices, including computers/laptops, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets are free from malware and infections.
- Keep all critical software current. Having all software current is one of the best security measures you can take.
- Clean up your mobile life. Most of us have apps we no longer use as well as ones that need updating. Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the operating system on your mobile device. An added benefit of deleting unused apps is more storage space and longer battery life. Actively manage your location services, Bluetooth, microphone, and camera, making sure apps use them appropriately.
- Disconnect (unlink) apps you no longer use your social media profiles. Make sure the 25 apps that are regularly accessing your Facebook account are still apps you use and need to be connected. Do this step for all the social platforms you’re on.
Secure Your Digital Life
Time to make sure you’re secure when using your connected devices. There are quick and easy things you can do that have long-term safety and security benefits for your digital life.
- Turn on two-step authentication. Many of the Internet’s most popular email services, social networks, and financial institutions offer this key security step free of charge, but you must opt-in to turn it on. Do this step especially on any app or site that stores your payment information or uses a saved payment source to make purchases (like device app markets).
- Secure your business’s router. Make sure the router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as “The Jones Store” or “Kay’s Coffee Shop.” Update your router software as well.
- Make better passwords stop password 123 use. If your passwords are too short or easy to guess, it’s like leaving the front door to your home unlocked. Longer passwords and those that combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols provide better protection.
- Have unique accounts, and unique passwords. Having separate passwords, at least for key accounts like email, banking, and social networking is important to stop account hacking.
- Write your passwords and needed security information down and keep it safe. Everyone can forget a password.
- Keep a list that is stored in a safe, secure place in your office. Do not keep this information on your computer.
Secure your phone. Use a passcode or a finger swipe to unlock your phone.
Clean up Digital Files
Tend to your digital records, PCs, phones and any device with storage just as you do for paper files.
- Clean up your email. Save only those emails you need (creating folders in your inbox is helpful). Delete or archive what you don’t need and be sure to empty your deleted mail folders.
- File upkeep and organizing. Delete or archive older files such as numerous drafts of the same document and outdated financial statements. Set aside 15-30 minutes to go through the files in your media library. Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices. Make sure to delete old files permanently.
- Manage subscriptions coming into your email box. Unsubscribe to newsletters, email alerts and updates you no longer read. There are online tools available that help with this task.
- Update your online photo album. Back up photos, you want to keep and delete old or less flattering pictures.
- Update photos of staff on your company’s website.
- Update your online relationships. Review friends on social networks and contacts on phones and PCs and make sure everyone on those lists still belongs. Go through those LinkedIn connections and disconnect from people who no longer add value to your digital life.
- Back it up (consistently). Copy important data to a secure cloud site or to another drive where it can be safely stored. Password protect backup drives and keep them in a different location off the network for maximum security. Commit to doing backups on a regular basis.
- Update your website’s look. Take a look at your website and refresh the photos with some more current ones. It’s a small, but very noticeable refresh that keeps your site looking fresh. Whenever possible, use original photography. When using stock photos, try not to use photos on the first two pages of popular stock photo sites, as you don’t want to be using the same photos that everybody else is using.
- Check your website’s links. Having outgoing links on your site is an important piece of SEO. Go ahead and click on through links on your site and make sure they go where they are supposed to. Also, check the links on your site that go to other pages on your site and make sure they all work as they should.
Clean Up Your Online Reputation
Beyond your social media profiles, is the footprint your business name or brand has online.
- Own your online presence. Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure that they remain set to your comfort level for sharing. It’s OK to limit with whom you share information.
- Clean up your business’s social media presence. Delete old photos and comments that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are. Make sure all comments about brand feedback/reviews are answered.
- Update your contact information. Make sure everything about your business is correct. Check your Google My Business listing. See what updates need to be completed.
After your digital spring cleaning is done, try to remember these best practices as you inevitably accumulate more digital clutter. Think twice about downloading that new app or starting free trials. Back up what you need and then wipe the data storage on hardware as soon as you move on to something new. When possible delete documents as soon as you’re done with them. The more understanding and control you have over your digital footprint the easier it is to defend.
Feature image: Adha Ghazali/Shutterstock