How to do a digital spring clean

Clear the clutter on your digital device, and bring it up to speed.

10 Feb 2021

You’ve heard about a good old traditional spring clean, sorting out the clutter in your home. But what about a digital spring clean? It's all about clearing up clutter on your trusty digital devices - smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop PCs. So, if your homescreen's full off useless apps, and your folders are busting at the seams, here are some tips on tidying things up.

 

1. Lose those old downloads

When we download something from a website, it automatically gets saved to the Downloads folder.

This can be a graveyard for stuff we really don’t need and can take up a lot of space. So clearing it out might even speed up your device!

Go through and delete anything you don’t need anymore. If you find something you do need, save it in a new folder somewhere safer, with a clear label.

Then, for good measure, empty your recycling or trash bin folder. Just like in the real world, it feels good to get rid of needless junk!

 

2. Sort through your old photos

You’ll probably have loads of photos saved in your device's album; screenshots you don’t need any more, automatic downloads from the likes of WhatsApp, or 100s of photos of your pet (or ex-partner).

Delete any photos you don’t care about and then back the rest up. Either with an external hard drive, or on a cloud service like Google Drive or OneDrive. Or, if you have Google Photos on your device, any photos you take with your device will show up there straight away. If you're really organised, you can create folders for specific events like holidays (but Google Photos also does quite a good job of doing that automatically).

 

3. Get a password manager

It’s tempting to use the same password for everything. But it’s really not safe. If a hacker gets hold of that password, they can get into any of your accounts.

Fix the problem by getting a password manager. Your browser might come with one, or you can use something like LastPass. They’re secure services that hold all your passwords, so you can use strong unique passwords for every account you have without needing to memorize them.

 

4. Check if your old passwords are safe

Time to put your new password manager to use! Have I Been Pwned is a helpful, free site that lets you type in your email address to see if you’ve been involved in any data breaches.

If you see you have, be sure to change your password for that site - or any other sites where you've used the same password.

 

5. Hit unsubscribe. Lots!

Is your inbox heaving with marketing emails from companies you're not interested in? Then take some time to go through your emails. For every marketing email you see that you’re no longer interested in, go into the email, scroll down until you see the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email and press it.

It might take some time to go through them all, but you’ll see the difference to your inbox almost immediately. 

 

6. Slim down your friends list

Remember that guy you met that one time at uni at that thing? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Our social profiles contain a lot of info on us, so it’s a good idea to have a rethink about who you really want looking.

Go on, have a good old purge! Delete anyone you don’t really know from your friends list – you might be safe online, but what if they’re not and get hacked?

 

7. Clean up your phone screen

We all pick up a few random apps over time. Go through your phone home screen. If you see an app you don’t use, don’t just remove it from the home screen. Go in and close the associated account (to stop them keeping your data) and then uninstall it from your phone.

 

8. Shush those notifications

When you leave your phone for an hour do you come back to loads of notifications? There might be some that survived your earlier purge that you don’t need to hear from every day. So, go into the notifications settings on your phone and change the permissions for any you don’t want flashing up.

 

9. Ditch the old tech

Old laptops and phones can become a nuisance when they start to pile up. If it’s something you haven’t got round to, back up anything you need from them now.

Then put them in a box, ready to trade-in when lockdown finishes. You can trade-in with us or Carphone Warehouse - we’ll wipe all your data for you, then recycle your tech responsibly. And you might even get a gift card out of it!

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