Like many other chores, sometimes keeping your technology in tip-top condition ends up falling off the end of your to-do list. Well, spring is as good a time as any to do a little refresh to make your digital life more enjoyable – here’s how:
You know you should back up your computer and devices regularly, but that doesn’t mean you always get it done. So plug your iPhone into iTunes to manually back it up, get that external drive earning its keep by backing up every-thing on your computer, and run all of the cloud-based syncs that you use (e.g. for Google Drive or Dropbox). Now you know you won’t have any issues with data loss in the unlikely case that you do something wrong in the next steps (or further in the future).
Now that you’re safely backed up, run updates on everything you own that has the ability to be updated. This includes firmware for connected televisions, receivers, and other gear, as well as software updates for the usual suspects: your computer, your phone, etc. Not only will this keep your devices working best, it may also uncover some issues that you might otherwise have missed.
3. File Organization
Files – on your computer, on your phone, in your emails, and everywhere else – can be hard to manage. Take this opportunity to empty your trash bins (including those sometimes found inside applications) and get rid of other files you don’t need anymore (they were likely backed up in the first step, but if they’re important then it’s worth making sure).
If your computer is still feeling cramped, see if you have any giant files that could be deleted by doing a search based on file size (e.g. find files larger than 500MB). Finally, if you’ve come across files through this process that aren’t in the right folders, do a little final tidying up to save yourself some time in the future.
4. App Organization
Just like files on your computer, apps tend to accumulate on phones and tablets. Think about the apps you use all the time and make sure these are on your home screen, and then take a look around and get rid of apps that you no longer or have never used (you can always re-download them). If your device can group apps in folders then consider whether these are still working for you, and make changes so you reduce the amount of clicking and swiping you need to launch things every day.
5. Physical Cleaning
Finally, you should physically clean your devices. For almost anything, the best way to start this process is to turn off and, if applicable, unplug the device. You shouldn’t ever use harsh cleaners on your gear and make sure to never spray any liquid directly onto your device – rather spray it onto a microfibre cloth if you’re using that to clean. Isopropyl alcohol can be used to help clean most keyboards (but test an inconspicuous key first to make sure the print doesn’t come off) and this can be applied using a q-tip – just make sure it’s not so wet that it’s going to drip into your device. A can of compressed air is also super handy for cleaning keyboards, peripheral ports, and other nooks and crannies that are hard to reach. When it comes to monitors and screens, a soft, damp cloth is best, though you can use a very diluted mix of dish soap and warm water for tough spots in most cases. Check the owner’s manual when in doubt.
If you feel you should be doing more to look after tech, but aren’t sure where to begin, then the above five steps will get you started. You can find lots more about each of these tips with a simple search online!