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Digital clear-out: How to clean up your devices

There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a good clear-out. And this goes not only for your home but for your digital devices too. They can become cluttered with excess emails, apps, files and data.

Clearing unwanted data and apps can make your devices more secure, extend their life and make them run more efficiently. This is good news for your wallet as well as your carbon footprint.

Here are some top tips for a cleaner, more secure digital life.

Begin with your inbox

Your email inbox should be your starting point, as it’s your digital headquarters. It’s also likely to contain a huge amount of personal data - both your own and other peoples. As such, a clear out is probably overdue.

Delete old emails: Sort all the important emails from your inbox into their own folders. Then select everything that’s been sat in your inbox for over 30 days, and press delete. It’s a great feeling. And let’s be honest - if you haven’t read them, you probably weren’t going to.

To be more meticulous, you can put your email search function to good use. If you enter a few digits from your bank account or credit card number, you’ll find any emails containing this information, such as old invoices. These should be deleted in case your account is ever compromised.

Unsubscribe: : If you receive emails from accounts you’re unlikely to engage with, get into the habit of unsubscribing as soon as these emails get to your inbox. Cancelling any unwanted subscriptions reduces the likelihood of your details being passed on in future and will save you from further clutter.

Everybody receives unwanted emails. These will mostly be filtered into your spam or junk folder. However, if you’re receiving a substantial amount of spam, you may want to take a look at Which? magazine’s advice on how to stop spam here.

Keep an eye out for phishing emails: These are messages which pretend to be from a legitimate source, but are actually from malicious users. Phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so you need to be vigilant to spot them. They will usually contain a malicious link or request for information. Most reputable companies such as your bank will never ask you for your password or to confirm personal details over email. If you’re unsure, or the email has come out of the blue, do not follow the link or respond.

Clear up storage on your phone

If you’re running out of space on your smartphone, there are some steps you can take.

Upload your media to the cloud: Photos and videos in particular can take up a lot of your phone’s storage space. If you have cloud storage, it’s a good idea to use it for your media. Not only will this clear up valuable space, but it means you can access it from your other devices too. Also, cloud storage providers usually back up their data, whereas a phone can be lost or damaged.

Delete old apps: Take some time to get rid of any apps you aren’t using. Note that best practice is to cancel your old accounts entirely, so that the app producers no longer have access to your details.

Use a cleaner app: If your phone is packed with unnecessary files and apps, you can download cleaner apps to dispose of them for you. Here are some of the best cleaner apps for Android and iOS.

Best digital practices

There are habits that you can develop to tighten up your security, like creating strong and unique passwords, for example. Many people stick to the same password, as it’s easier for them to remember. However, in the event of a data breach with one of your accounts, cybercriminals may be granted access to all the rest. If each password is unique, at least that means only one account will be compromised.

If you’re worried about remembering all these passwords, you could use a password manager to do the remembering for you. Read Techradar’s best password managers in 2020 here.

Sometimes, you may be asked to set up a two-factor authentication when creating a new account. This means there will be an additional security step after you enter your password. For example, you may have to enter a code via an authenticator app on your phone, and there’s a limited time before the code expires.

These extra steps may seem like a lot to remember, but you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can get into these habits. It’s worth remembering to regularly keep up with best practices to avoid more digital clutter in the future.

Insurance can add a different level of security to your devices. If you’re looking to cover your laptops, computers or tablets, see what Rias could do for you with our contents insurance.