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Beacon Senior News

Tidy up your digital clutter

Jan 03, 2018 12:15AM ● By Adam Cochran

Well, you did it. You made it through another holiday season without learning the words to “Auld Lang Syne.”

While you likely skipped the plum pudding, avoided mistletoe at all costs and finally found someone to regift last year’s fruit cake to, it goes without saying that you are still finding tinsel and wrapping paper in embarrassing nooks and crannies.

We end each year by making messes, so it only makes sense to begin the new year by tidying up.

Before computers, smartphones, tablets and the internet, all of life’s clutter tended to lie out in the open, where it taunted us until it was cleaned up. Unfortunately, that’s not how digital clutter works. Some of these things can be done on your own, while others may require assistance from a techsavvy individual.

Quickly declutter your documents and email

This may seem overwhelming, but I’m not talking about a tedious assessment of each file. Quickly browse through and delete old homeowners association meeting announcements, Black Friday alerts or documents you created for a one-time need.

You can select more than one item at a time by holding down the CTRL button on a PC or the COMMAND button on a Mac and clicking on each file. Tap the delete key to send it all to the trash.

Empty your trash

This process rarely affects the performance of your computer, but knowing that your trash is empty can be liberating.

Eliminate distant acquaintances on social media

If you’re active on Facebook, there’s a good chance you once friended someone you’ve long forgotten about—former coworkers, your child’s kindergarten teacher, etc.

Your Facebook friends are not notified when you unfriend them, so there’s no need to be embarrassed if you no longer want to be connected to them on social media.

Dust your machine

I don’t judge anyone for their housekeeping, but letting your computer get full of dust can be both expensive and dangerous.

Computers have fans that suck air in past the processor to keep it cool. Over time, dust from the air builds up and can insulate the parts the fan is trying to cool. The computer can overheat and—while uncommon—even catch fire.

Back up your machine

This is the most important item on the list. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but make sure all of your important documents and pictures are saved in at least two places. Cloud backup services such as Carbonite are best, but anything is better than nothing.

Ask yourself, “If my house burned down today, would I still have all the photos and documents saved on my computer?”

If the answer is no, take care of that before you go to bed tonight.