Spring Cleaning is not just about dusting off your screen and spraying canned air through your keyboard, it’s also about tidying up your computer’s insides. It’s time to check for updates, eliminate useless software and files, and get your computer’s systems organized.

Though you should sanitize your computer and other technologies – they amass huge amounts of bacteria and dust can cause damage – take some time to sit back, turn on relaxing music, and meticulous go through your computer’s systems. Here are just a few ways to make sure you’re getting every nook and cranny. You’ll be surprised by how unwinding and secure a clean computer feels!

1. Organize your files.

There is nothing better than the sight of a clean desktop. So put every file and every program in its place. However your files are backed up, rather they’re in the cloud or on an external hard drive, clear your backups out too. Delete what you don’t need. Create new folders. Properly name your files. Make sure private information is secure and where it needs to be. You wouldn’t want to send anything sensitive to someone because you accidentally misplaced a file. And now your computer is streamlined! Now you know where everything is and how to search for it. Remember, throughout the year, store anything new in its proper place. Now that you’ve organized your computer next year cleaning will be even easier!

(If you’re feeling extra ambitious, spruce up your bookmarks bar on your browser. Put links in specific folders, prioritize, and keep labels brief.)

2. Update everything you can think of.

It’s most important you check your anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware software for updates. (Even though you, of course, are already checking these on a regular basis.) Now go ahead and see if you have any other software that needs a refresher as well. Operating systems, applications, browsers, plugins, and games should all be updated. Updating your systems will make sure none of the programs you’re running have bugs. Any vulnerabilities it had before will now be patched!

And, if you ever notice any glitches in a program, update immediately. Glitches create these vulnerabilities and cyber criminals will take advantage of them.

3. Reset the passwords you most commonly use.

You love your passwords and you have them all memorized! No matter how perfect your Amazon or your Facebook password is, it’s time for a change. Move on and think up new, even better, passwords for your most frequently used accounts. This is includes:

  • Your computer account’s password
  • Your social media passwords (and don’t make them all the same)
  • Your online banking and/or Paypal password (definitely needs to be different from all the rest)
  • Your e-commerce passwords
  • As you do so, keep track of them all in a password manager. Writing them down, especially any work passwords, can easily become a security risk. It may seem innocent and like a convenient idea, but usually it is against company policy!

    If you’re still feeling ambitious, change your security questions as well!

    4. Run your computer’s utilities.

    Rather you are operating with Windows or Mac, running your computer’s utilities just takes a few easy step. These utilities can help make room on your computer and make sure permissions are set correctly. For Windows users find the hard drive, located in your File Explorer, and right-click to go to properties. Find ‘Disk Cleanup’ and your computer will perform a search for any unneeded Internet files, old downloads, and all files in your Recycle Bin. You can chose what is trashed and what is saved.

    On Macs find ‘Disk Utility’ in your Utilities folder, which is in your Applications folder. Select the startup disk you wish to clean and go to the First Aid tab. Click Repair Disk Permissions to find any incorrect permissions. If a file’s permissions are broken, the software that uses the file might not work correctly.

    5. Put together a Spring Cleaning plan.

    We get that cleaning your computer may seem time consuming, but being totally cyber secure comes with a organized, updated computer. Plus, a clean computer can save you time finding files and make cleaning next year a cinch! And if your computer is all updated, you’ll save time by not having to deal with any cyber attacks out-of-date security systems would’ve allowed.

    For more help on putting together a Spring Cleaning Plan check out our 4 Weeks to Spring Clean your Digital Clutter infographic! All the tidying you’re about to do won’t seem so daunting if you take it week-by-week.

    Bonus: Don’t forget your smart phone and tablet!

  • Delete any apps you never use. Organize the rest. Put your most commonly used apps where they’re easy to get to!
  • Delete the photos and videos you don’t want and put the rest on a hard drive. (But leave some of your favorites, the ones you like to show off to your friends!)
  • Reset any important passwords that you didn’t already reset on your computer.
  • Run any updates your phone might need, and check to see if any apps need updating as well.
  • Check your location services. Make sure they are turned off where they need to be.
  • And if you’re still feeling ambitious, clean out your music and podcasts collections. Delete any old playlists and reorganize them. Un-download any .mp3s you don’t listen to. If you chose to do so, good luck!
  • Meg Krafft

    Digital Marketing Assistant at The Security Awareness Company
    After starting out creating digital and print marketing for a real estate company, Meg now assists in keeping up the marketing needs for SAC. When not working she's probably watching a good movie or indulging in local art and music.

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