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Digital Maintenance: 5 Ways to Spruce up and Protect Your stuff

It is time for the treatment of your online accounts, laptops and phones of the way you have a garage or a closet. Digital accounts and electronics need regular cleaning and maintenance, just like cabinets full of engine oil and cleaning agents.

Otherwise they turn into a frustrating mess, even the port of certain hazardous materials. Honestly, when was the last time you even looked at the settings of the router? But that is something you must do, to protect yourself from hackers.

But the year is still young and the days are short, the destruction of a morning for the digital home. In just a few hours, you can your inbox, free up storage space, and the protection of your personal information against online criminals.

Here is your digital maintenance to-do list for this weekend:

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1. The Repair Of Your Passwords

“If I had to pick the most important online safety strategy of all, it would safely manage your passwords,” says Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security. (And yes, that is his real title.) “Having a really complex password, and change them regularly, is one of the most important things you can do to secure your online life.”

Try to create new passwords for each of your app and website accounts. This prevents a compromised password from the creation of multiple violations.

When it comes to passwords, the longer and more nonsensical, the better.

Davis recommends the use of a password manager, which can be a huge time-saver. “Integrated password managers can automatically log users into websites and applications,” he says, “that is very useful and can generate ridiculously complex passwords that you never need to type.”

2. A Security Check

It seems like we hear of a new breach of the security of almost every week. To see if your personal information was swept up in the hacks on LinkedIn, Adobe, Dropbox, or Yahoo, connect your e-mail addresses and user names in haveibeenpwned.com.

The web site takes your users to register and agree with the publicly leaked data. You can also register to receive notification if your accounts hacked in the future.

“Consumers should take seriously each and every online interaction,” says Mike Baukes, co-CEO of cybersecurity company UpGuard. “They should also be vocal in the hold of their favorite brands responsible for their security.”

It is also not a bad idea to use the privacy settings of your Google and Facebook accounts.

3. Unsubscribe From Unwanted E-Mails

If you’re anything like me, you have few doubts about handing out your personal email address for a free app download or a 10 percent discount on a tube of toothpaste. But, sooner or later, that cavalier attitude nets you a crowded inbox.

Even though you might spend an afternoon opening every last e-mail and click on the link, there is an easier way to clean the house. It’s called Roll-out.me, and wades through your inbox and compiles a list of subscriptions. From there, you can pick and choose what to keep and what to dispose of.

In my case, it helped me whittle the list of 474 to 13.

And the next time that you are prone to exchange an e-mail address for an online deal, make it a point to use a site such as 10MinuteMail.com that provides a safe, temporary e-mail service that self-destructs in 10 minutes.

4. Free up Space on Your Smartphone

The days of 16GB of storage capacity is coming to an end, but also a 64GB smartphone is not a bottomless pit. With large apps, 4K video and high-res photos, more and more the norm, we are all destined to suffer due to the limited space of a headache. Here are some solutions:

Remove not used apps. Perform a quick audit and get rid of those that you haven’t opened in a while. (This is also good for the privacy and the security of the less apps you have, the less companies collect information about you.) It is also worth to check how much space the apps you’re using command.

For iOS users: go to Settings > General > Storage and iCloud > Manage Storage.

For Android users, go to Settings > Storage and USB – > Internal Storage (or Storage) > Apps.

Clear the cache of your browser. When you visit a website, your smartphone temporarily save files, so that the next time you go to the site, it will load faster. As a result, the browser cache can get quite large. To fix that, you need to clear out every so often.

Every mobile browser has a different method to achieve this. But here are a few examples.

Safari users should go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

For Android users using Chrome, go to the Chrome app and select More > Settings > Advanced > Privacy > Clear browsing data. Then select a certain period of time (such as the last hour or from the “beginning of time”). Select Cache and then tap Clear data.

Send your photos to the cloud. If the estimates of the market research firm Infotrends understand, more than 1 trillion photos will be taken in 2017. That is a lot of images, and they all have to go somewhere. You might forfeit the precious onboard storage on your seldom-seen snapshots, but why not move to the cloud?

For iOS users, make sure that your iCloud-Photo-Library. Now go to Settings > iCloud > Photos and turn on the Optimize Storage, so that when your phone is low on space, a smaller image file will take the place of each full-resolution photo (which will be sent to the cloud).

For Android users, make sure that the Google Photos backup is enabled. Open the Google Photos app and select Menu > Settings and put a Back-up and synchronization. (Google Photos is also available for iPhone users; download the app.)

5. Updating the router’s firmware

Neglecting your router to your home network and even your online accounts in danger. It is therefore important to regularly update the firmware to obtain the latest security features.

Although some of the newer routers offer automatic updates, many older models require you to do the work. At the least, you have to log in to your router through a browser using the device, the IP address and accept all updates that the router company has prepared for you. But you can even need to have to download the update from the website of the manufacturer, and then the installation. Here are links with step-by-step instructions on how to update the models of some popular brands: Apple, Asus, D-Link, Linksys and Netgear.

To prod yourself to monitor for future updates, set up a quarterly reminder in your calendar. You can also contact the manufacturer to see if there is a way to ensure the safety notices via e-mail.

Copyright © 2005-2017 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.

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