CREDO Tip: Easy ways to clean, organize and update your technology this Spring

Spring is almost upon us and that means it’s time for spring cleaning! You might have plans to store your winter clothes, deep clean your appliances and organize your closets.

But now is also a great time to clean, update, disinfect and organize your digital lives, including your computers, devices and workstation areas. Here are some easy spring cleaning tips for your technology.

Physically clean your devices.

It’s always good to practice proper device hygiene, but with Coronavirus spreading across the country, now is probably the best time to start a cleaning routine. 

For your handheld devices, use a good, lint-free microfiber or lens cleaning cloth to remove oil and fingerprints. If your phone case is waterproof, wash it thoroughly with soap and water. To disinfect your devices, Apple suggests using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (which may be in short supply in your area), but avoid bleach and don’t submerge your phone in liquids. Android Central has some additional tips on cleaning and disinfecting your Android phone, including phone cleaning kits and disinfectant wipes.

For your laptop and computer workstation, that microfiber cloth comes in handy to clean the smudges from your monitor. Use a can of compressed air on your keyboard to remove crumbs. Apply disinfectant wipes or a cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol to clean your keyboard and mouse/trackpad. If you have a desktop-style computer and you’ve never cleaned the inside of the machine, shutdown and unplug your workstation. Open the case and use the compressed air to remove dust from the fan and internal components. Here are some additional tips from CNet.

Note: As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads, so has the misinformation regarding the virus. To ensure you’re receiving the most accurate and up-to-date information to keep you and your family safe, please visit the CDC’s Coronavirus website or the WHO’s Coronavirus website.

Update your software and operating systems. 

If you’re anything like us, you ignore those daily notifications to update your phone’s OS or computer applications. But keeping your software and operating systems up to date is important to the health and security of your technology. 

If you’ve been putting it off for a while, consider setting aside an hour or two on a weekend, especially if you need to update your computer’s OS. Be sure to update your antivirus software, too! If you don’t have automatic updates turned on, you might want to consider it to save you time and hassle in the future. Here are some tips from Wired.

Backup your data.

Are you backing up your data in case your computer or devices break or are lost? If not, you should! If you are backing up your data, have you checked recently to ensure your backups are scheduled and running properly?

For your phone or tablet, an online or cloud solution is the easiest way to backup your photos, messages and other data. For Apple devices, you can use iCloud, which is built into your devices. For Android, you can use Google Drive. Check your settings to make sure that these services are turned on and working properly.

For your computer, you have a number of options, in addition to iCloud and Google Drive, like manual backups, external hard drives and automatic online services. Here are good tutorials from Wirecutter (with external storage suggestions) and PC World. And, for reference, here are the official tutorials to backup and restore your computer from Microsoft and Apple.

Organize your laptop or desktop.

Are your desktop and folders cluttered with useless files and junk? Do you feel like your computer may be a little sluggish? Here are a few quick steps to declutter and speed things up.

After you’ve updated your system software, delete unused applications, search for and delete large and unwanted files that are taking up lots of space (here are some tips from Lifehacker.) Then download and install a system optimizer like OnyX or CCleaner that can run routine cleaning and optimizing tasks to free up disk space, delete system and application cache, rebuild databases and generally get rid of clutter.

Organize and clean up your inbox.

Do you have thousands of unread emails that you swear you’ll read at some point? Is your inbox keeping you in a constant state of anxiety? It’s probably time to do a little email housekeeping.

Depending on your email provider or the application you use, the steps may be different, but the concepts are the same: 

  • Set up filters, labels, folders or categories to organize your incoming mail
  • Use those labels or filters to divert spam
  • Unsubscribe from lists you no longer read or find useful
  • Mass delete old emails you’ll never read (or read again)
  • Delete messages taking up a lot of space

Here are some detailed tips from Thrillist (if you use Gmail) and PC World (if you use Outlook).