10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Footprint
Over time, your digital footprint can become as messy as the closets in your home. As we sign up for different banking, social media, shopping and other online sites, we leave quite a trail across the Internet. And of course, if you use your computer for any amount of time, you are going to clog up the space on your hard drive as well.
Getting the digital mess in check can take time, but it is possible. Here are 10 tips.
1. Search for yourself online.
If you use the Internet long enough, you may just find that you show up in online searches. For some of us, like those who work in social media, this is by design. For others it just comes with the territory of using the Web. A quick online search for your name or frequently used username can be a great starting point to see where you show up. Help forums, social media sites, shopping sites that have profiles – these are all places where you may want to clean house. Create a list of what you find for the next step. You can also browse through your email and find welcome emails for various sites where you have accounts.
2. Deactivate unused accounts.
Once you have a list of as many online accounts as possible, deactivate or close accounts that you no longer need. New social media accounts are created all the time. You may sign up, decide that you don’t like it and just let the account sit. Now, if you own a business, holding onto your branded username on popular social media sites is important, but if you are signing up just for fun, consider closing accounts that you no longer use. This will increase your online security and cut down on the number of emails that you receive.
3. Consolidate social media accounts.
I have noticed that sometimes when people forget the password to their favorite social media account, instead of recovering it via email, they set up a new account and re-friend everyone again. Stick to one account. It is much easier to keep track of and less confusing for your friends who may not realize that you are not checking the account that they are using to try to reach you. You can prevent this by making sure that you use current, correct information when signing up. Don’t use fake birth dates or names, because chances are you won’t remember what you used in the event that you have to recover your password.
4. Consolidate your email accounts.
Some people have multiple email accounts spread across several services. While there may be a reason for this, it also makes it hard to keep up to date on your email. Try to stick to only two or three addresses if you prefer to keep things separated. One of them should be your main address for your business, one for personal and one as a junk address to use for mailing lists. Most current services allow you to route all of your email into one place. This makes it much easier to keep up on your email.
5. Unsubscribe from mailing lists.
Over time, you may sign up for email lists that you do want to read. Also, if you are an online shopper, vendors may automatically sign you up for their email lists when you make a purchase. And if you work in social media, you may sometimes get added to lists that you did not ask to receive. This happens to me quite often. Some people add me via my blog, others add me because they have my business card. All of that extra email clogs my inbox and makes it hard to see real email that needs my attention. Take some time each week to go through your inbox and unsubscribe from mailing lists that you are not reading.
6. Clean up your desktop and downloads.
When I am working, I very often save things to my desktop so that I can find them easily. This can cause dozens of icons to clog my desktop. Every now and then I clean up my desktop by filing away the things that I need and deleting those that I don’t. The same goes for my downloads folder. As I download apps to try out, fonts, clipart and other files, my downloads folder becomes quite busy. This needs to be cleaned out often.
7. Scan for viruses and malware.
At their worst, viruses and malware can render your computer unusable. If you are lucky, they will just slow down your computer. It is necessary not only to have virus software running on your computer at all times, but also to periodically run a scan for viruses and malware. You may be surprised by what you find. And you will notice a huge difference in how your computer performs after a cleanup.
8. Move your data to the cloud.
Many people wonder about the benefit of moving their data to the cloud. Of course, the main benefit is that your data is backed up automatically in a secure off-site location. But my favorite benefit of the cloud is that my data are available wherever I am. If I need to access a file from my phone, laptop or tablet, I know that I can without a problem.
9. Move photos and videos off your phone.
Another great feature of the cloud is the ability to automatically back up all photos and videos from your phone. This means that even if you lose or damage your phone you will not lose your photos. Once your photos and videos are securely backed up to the cloud, you can safely delete them from your phone to clear up space.
10. Uninstall unused apps.
I’m guilty of downloading apps to my devices, trying them out and then not using them. This can take up valuable space and memory. Swipe through your apps and uninstall those that you no longer use.
This may sound like a lot, but trust me: if you do these few things you will find that you feel more organized, and that your devices run faster.