Digital Resolutions for the New Year

Prepare your computer for a stress-free start to 2019

The beginning of the New Year is traditionally a time when people make resolutions toward positive habits and changes. This should include your digital life. Here are my suggestions for some things that you should consider to keep all your electronics shipshape for the New Year.

1) Backup. I highly recommend using an external hard drive to backup all of your important data. Those drives currently cost less than $100, and, depending on the amount of data you need to include, even a $10 flash drive might do the job. It’s best to keep this backup disconnected from any computer or network; you could store it in a safety deposit box or special drawer at home. Then, in case your computer gets hit by an encryption virus or crashes due to a hard drive failure, your data is safe from theft or damage. In addition, I recommend creating periodical or regular data backups stored on another external hard drive or in the “cloud.” While you’re thinking of backups, don’t forget your cell phone. If you backup and then delete older photos and videos, this will free up space for new digital content.

2) Updates. To start the New Year on your computer right, make sure that your operating system (such as Windows, MAC OS, IOS, or Android) is up-to-date, especially with the latest security updates. Depending on your system, such updates might be uploaded and installed automatically. You should also check your Antivirus protection software to make sure that it is active and up-to-date. And it doesn’t hurt to run a “full system scan” manually from time to time.

3) Clean up and organize. Once you know your data is secured, you should declutter a bit. I would start with the desktop screen on your computer. I often see systems where the desktop screen shows a hundred icons and shortcuts, of which only ten are being used on a regular basis. Photos and documents on the desktop should be moved to corresponding folders such as “My documents” or “My Pictures.” You can arrange and move things the way you like, but a streamlined desktop layout will make working on your computer much easier and less stressful. Then also take the time to create sub-folders (and even sub-sub-folders) within your “My Documents” and “My Pictures” folders to properly organize all your files and photos, whether by date or subject. This will make it much easier to find things when you need them.

4) Create safe passwords. I can’t emphasize this subject enough. Please keep your passwords stored somewhere safe, maybe on a document or print-out in your bank deposit box or a safe at home. At least once a year, it’s a good idea to change the passwords you use most frequently. At least make sure you are not using the same password for multiple accounts, which can make it easier for hackers to make trouble for you.  In addition, I recommend using a password storage program such as 1Password or Dashlane. But make sure you don’t forget the password to get into this software! (You need to put that one in the safe, too!) Once you have logged into the program, you have access to all of your passwords, and depending on the program, the password will be even automatically inserted wherever needed in your browser.

5) Email. And don’t forget to declutter your email system. Thousands of emails are just too unwieldy to sort through when looking for something. Apply the same principle you used with the documents: create sub-directories (or labels in Gmail) and move emails that belong together into certain categories, directories, or labels. And delete emails that you don’t need anymore. Wouldn’t it be nice to begin the New Year with a trimmed down inbox?

6) Organizational software. While I am on the subject of organizing content, perhaps it’s time to try a time organizer program or calendar software. They are usually pre-installed on your devices. I use the Google calendar, but also “sticky notes” that came free with my Windows computer. They look like the colored paper sticky notes you can buy, but are now programmed to work on the desktop. Really neat.

Once you’ve finished backing up, cleaning, organizing, securing, and updating your computer and devices, you’ll be ready to tackle your work and enjoy your digital life with a cleaner system that’s ready for a year’s worth of new data.

Should you have difficulties with any of these tasks, I offer consultations and one-to–one tutorials to help you learn how to manage your New Years Computer Resolutions. Contact us at www.dokklaus.com

Klaus Fuechsel
About Klaus Fuechsel 13 Articles
Klaus Fuechsel owns the local award-winning computer repair store Dok Klaus. He and his team deal with all kinds of computer issues; data preservation is one of their top priorities. You may contact Dok Klaus via phone 540-428-2376 or visit his website.

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