The New Year is right around the corner and I'm sure most of you have already decided on your resolutions. Let's face it, 2020 was tough. A fresh start is what many of you are looking for in 2021, so when you resolve to make positive changes to your personal life, take a moment to make some resolutions for your digital life as well. Just like good personal habits help you live a longer and fuller life, good tech habits help your technology last longer and prevents you from falling victim to many of the scams out there that threaten your tech devices and your personal data. There are so many habits you should pick up when it comes to using your technology. Here are the 6 important ones you need to use in the coming year.
1. Configure Your Devices to Automatically Backup to a Cloud Storage Service. You can easily replace your computers, smartphones, and tablets. Your data such as baby's first photos, wedding pictures, holiday videos, can't be replaced when lost. Even if there was a chance to reclaim those old files can cost thousands if you let us at Integral attempt to retrieve them from you. External hard drives can be used for backup, but most of you won't remember to plug them in your devices to have them back up. Resolve this year to have your devices automatically backup that information to the cloud. Unfortunately, there are no free services that allow you to do this, but most backup services average around $70 a year which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing your files are safe and secure. Not sure what to use?
Windows and Macintosh Computers: Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) Will automatically backup your items to the cloud and keep older files for up to 30 days.
iPhones and iPad: iCloud. (www.icloud.com) Apple starts you off with a small amount of storage for your tech devices, but for a small monthly fee, you can increase that storage to backup all of your important files on your iPhone, iPad and even your iMac and Macbook.
Android Phones and Tablets: Google Drive. (www.google.com) Google follows the same model as Apple by giving you a free amount of storage space, but for a small monthly fee you can have all of your Android devices and your Windows and Apple computers backed up to the cloud.
2. Use a Password Manager to Store Those Passwords. Hopefully, you're using different passwords for all of your online accounts. If you're not, you're risking identity theft and having your personal online accounts compromised. Cybercriminals are using a method called Credential Stuffing to get access to your information. With all of the data breaches that have occurred over the years, the is a good chance your user information is sitting on the dark web. Once your information is obtained, a criminal just needs to use your credentials to log in. Making sure you have a different password for each of your online accounts is a great deterrent. Keeping track of all of those passwords is the challenge, which is why a password manager is a good tool for you to use. Not the most secure method, but storing those passwords in your favorite browser is better than using the same passwords for your accounts. Edge, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera all offer an option to store your passwords. If you want a little more security, use LastPass (www.lastpass.com) or DashLane (www.dashlane) to store those passwords.
3. Have a Good Balance between Screen Time and Real Life. Technology has been a great tool during the pandemic allowing us to stay in contact with family and friends, but if you've seen "The Social Dilemma" on Netflix, you know technology is designed to keep you addicted and plugged. It's even worse for younger members of your family with social media creating a host of mental and physical ailments. iPhone users can take advantage of Apple's Screen Time to track and control their smartphone use. Android users can use Digital Wellbeing to set limits on the time you spend on their devices. It helps if you block or unfriend negative people on your social media accounts. Also, set certain areas in your home as 'no tech' zones to help curb the amount of time you spend staring at your devices.
4. Get Rid of those old Tech Devices. Doesn't matter if you give them to family members, charity, or recycle them, make 2021 the year you get rid of those old technology toys. I'm talking old gaming systems, computers, laptops, phones, headphones, and cords. Someone can use that old tech. Before you give away those devices, wipe them clean. The easiest way to wipe these devices clean is to do a full reset. Before you do, make sure you back up all your information like documents, pictures, and videos to an external hard drive or to a cloud storage service.
5. Add a Little 'Green' to Your Tech. One of the great things about technology is all of the environmentally friendly tech that is available. Focusing on 'green' tech can help your home and office finances. The first thing you should do is to replace your standard light bulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs can save you up to $6 a year. A small amount when you think of one bulb, but think about how many bulbs you have in your home or office. If you haven't already, you should also invest in a smart thermostat to help with your energy savings. Some utility companies will provide them to you, but once you have one in your home or office, you can program a schedule to make sure there is no waste when it comes to your utilities. You can also take it a step further by setting up a smart home with your Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices.
6. Reevaluate Your Tech Subscriptions. Many products are going to a subscription service. The upside is these products keep you up to date with the latest versions of your software products. The downside is these subscriptions are designed to keep taking money out of your pocket as most companies sign you up for ongoing subscriptions rather than monthly or yearly subscriptions. Check your banking and credit card statements to make sure you aren't being charged for products you are no longer using. While you're at it, contact your cable and Internet providers to make sure you're getting the best package that offers faster internet services. Sometimes companies will modify their TV or Internet package for a lower rate and not inform their current customers.
Yes, 2020 was not an easy year and we all could use a clean slate. Think of 2021 as a reset for yourself and your tech devices. In this digital age we live in, take the time to reevaluate your relationship with your gadgets, and make technology a healthier component of your life.
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