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Article · Jan 18, 2019

Your Data To-Do List

Color illustration depicting data storage.

Since you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that much of your life is probably lived online, and that digital devices have become as indispensable as your appendages. It’s no wonder there’s now shorthand for when we’re referring to things “in real life” (IRL) to differentiate between things we experience digitally or online. IRL, we go shopping, chat with friends and tidy up the spaces we inhabit. In the digital realm, we ought to do the same. But how many of us take the time to organize our digital spaces in an orderly fashion? 

If you’re someone who eschews housekeeping IRL, you probably approach your digital life with the same aversion to tidiness. On the other hand, even if you have #Kondo-level organizing skills, you probably don’t take the time to purge your laptop or storage device of unnecessary items. While your computer desktop may be a convenient place to stick things temporarily, just like that pile of paperwork at home, it just keeps getting bigger and more daunting the more you neglect it. And, when it comes to storing your digital stuff, you’re probably paying more than you should if your storage device resembles your IRL junk drawer.

Depending on where you fall on the tidiness spectrum, you may benefit from cleaning up your desktop, and getting rid of files you won’t ever use again. Here are four easy digital housekeeping tips to clean up your workspace so you can spend less time searching for those elusive files and applications.

#1: First things first

It may not fall under the category of “tidying up,” but your number one digital housekeeping priority is to update your software, operating system and web browser with the latest software patches and security updates. Hackers frequently exploit software vulnerabilities, and software creators are always releasing patches and updates to defend against new malware variants as they emerge.

Most software applications will prompt you to install patches and updates automatically, but if you haven’t been prompted for some of your apps, take the extra step to perform a manual update. All it takes is one software vulnerability for malicious code to enter your system. Once inside, it can execute further malicious activity deeper and across more files in the system. 

#2: Not-so-shortcuts

Pssst. About that desktop. You know, the one that looks like a tower of shortcuts came crashing down on your background. Icons cease being shortcuts when you have to move six of them out of the way to find the one you’re looking for. Invest some time creating a scheme for organizing shortcuts on your desktop so you know how to find the one you want. Group application shortcuts in one folder and files in another. 

Better yet, ditch the shortcuts entirely and learn how to work from windows and by expanding application folders. You can get to the same files and applications with the same number of clicks without cluttering your workspace. 

#3: About backup

“Backup vendor implores people to back up.” Not exactly breaking news. But how you back up is almost as important as whether you do. Large files, like high resolution images and videos, take up a lot of space on your hard drive, which could lead to system performance issues. To preserve hard drive space, offload any files you don’t open regularly to a storage device. And then back that device up in the Carbonite cloud.

Of course, back your primary computer up with Carbonite as well. Your Carbonite backup mirrors the files and folders on the device you’re backing up. So, any files you delete off your computer will eventually be deleted from your backup as well. That’s why you should have a separate device for storage and archiving. You can free up valuable disc space by minimizing the number of files you keep on your computer, archiving files you don’t need but still want to keep in storage, and deleting anything you think you won’t need again.

Keep both your computer and your storage device backed up in the Carbonite cloud in case either one of them ever fails or becomes compromised.

#4: Socially awkward

If you’re posting all your photos on social media platforms as a substitute for storage, you’re doing it wrong. Just ask former Friendster and (soon) Google+ users. No matter how wildly popular these platforms seem today, can you be sure they’ll still be viable 20 years from now? Not only that, the quality of images posted on social media degrades over time. The only way to ensure the quality and long-term survival of your irreplaceable photos is to use a solution that’s purpose-built for protecting them, like Carbonite.



Steve Jurszak

Steve Jurczak

Product Copywriter

Steven Jurczak is a Product Copywriter on the Corporate Marketing team at Carbonite. He blogs about backup and recovery technology, information security and IT industry trends.

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