Digital housekeeping: seven little tech chores you should be doing

With all the time we spend on the internet, it only makes sense that we clean up after ourselves.

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Keep your social accounts tidy and data stored right. Read on about the importance of a tidy social media presence

Whether you’re applying for a new job or merely wish your online presence to more accurately reflect who you are today, the natural place to start your digital spring clean is by combing through your social accounts.

Photos that seemed playful a decade ago – think boozy weekends, regretful nights out may not exude the “respected professional” look you’re presently hoping to portray. In times like these, the digital bin can be your best friend.

Ruthless decluttering

When sorting through imagery and videos and deciding which to remove from the public domain and which to keep online, it’s best to be ruthless – you can never be certain how deep a prospective employer could dive.

The same can be said for written posts and emoji-filled content. Posts from your early 20s bemoaning a Sunday morning hangover have probably been online for long enough.

A thorough working over of your social media accounts can be an hours-long job – especially if you’ve been active on a range of social platforms, most likely Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you are unsure, you can search your own profile using Google Chrome’s Incognito function, which gives you an indication of what online strangers will see.

If you want to alleviate your anxieties entirely, deleting your account is an option – but in most cases that shouldn’t be necessary.

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Hardware maintenance and storage

A data do-over: making room on your device

This process can be painstaking if done manually, which is why it’s a good idea to automate as much of the job as possible. For laptops, both Macs and Windows boast self-scrubbing applications to clear unnecessary files.

On Mac OS Sierra, you’ll have to open the System Information tool before opening the Window menu. There, simply select ‘store management’.

For Windows users it is even easier – you’ll find the Disk Cleanup tool in the Start menu. Any files that have been recently used or that your system classifies as essential will need to be assessed manually.

It might help to order your files by largest to smallest, which allows you to identify GB-taxing files quickly that you no longer use. For Apple, Androids and tablets, you can find a storage breakdown in your general settings that shows you the apps that are eating at your storage.

Programs like Google Photos also offer ways to store your pictures and photography in the cloud, to keep large images and videos off your hardware. Another Google offering is Google One, which is particularly useful for overloaded inboxes with emails and files you’d rather keep. This storage allowance also extends to the other applications in the Google Suite.

Wiping your phone

Wiping your smartphone entirely is a big decision, but once you decide that is the best course of action it is swift to execute. On an iPhone, go to Settings and follow General > Reset> Erase All Content and Settings. For Android, click on the Systems app then follow System > Advance > Reset options and Erase all Data (factory reset).

Password protection: the longer, the better

We’re often told a password that’s made up of a series of nonsensical letters, symbols, and special characters is the safest way to keep your online accounts from hackers and devious online prowlers. Of course, that’s safer than the remarkably popular password and early internet phenomenon QWERTY, which is made up of the first six letters on the English language keyboard in left-to-right order.

One simple way to ensure your password is hard to hack but simultaneously easier to remember than The Matrix code is to remember that statistically speaking, the more letters you introduce the harder that password is to hack. For instance, changing “Sydney1”, to “SydneyNewSouthWales1” takes the estimated time of a hacker breaking into your files from approximately one minute to five hundred quadrillion years, according to How Secure Is My Password.

So, for instance, if the name of the school where you received further education is your password, write out the full and official title; ie. “MelbourneUniversity1” is literally millions of times harder to hack than “Melbourne1”. The same goes for using the name of a loved one or a childhood hero – including their given name and surname is the safest option.

Responsible, waste-free disposal

If you have finished completely with a piece of hardware and wish to destroy it, you can do so sustainably through organisations like Planet Ark. With more than 3,500 locations Australia-wide, it’s easy to find your closest drop-off point – there’s even a handy look up tool.

eFinance management

Subscriptions: don’t set and forget

Unless on you start trial with an automatic cancellation, it’s always worth turning off auto-renew on online subscriptions, especially yearly uptakings like accounting software or online news memberships.

For the sake of a few minutes, you can save a massive cost down the road. This is particularly true on the occasions that the one-year “special offer” you signed up for automatically increases to pricier “standard” rate after the first 12 months.

Take advantage of digital payment

Thanks to the convenience and efficiency of modern online banking apps, most millennials wouldn’t be able to tell you what the inside of a bank looks like.

These are available for all major banking institutions, including: CommBank, ING, Bank of Australia, NAB and WestPac. By using banking apps, along with the ability to digitally store cards on Apple Pay and Google Pay, you can ensure you’re never more than a few seconds away from addressing a bill, even on the go.

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Microsoft® and Windows® are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Apple, Mac, iPhone and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Android, Google Photos, Google One and Google Pay are trademarks of Google LLC.