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Technically Speaking of Spring Cleaning

By Mike Cobb, Director of Engineering
Updated March 1, 2018

Spring is here and it’s time to add technology to your list of seasonal cleaning chores. Here’s your Tech Spring Cleaning list.

Back Up

We always recommend triple redundancy, meaning that the same important data is located in three places—one working copy and two backups.

  • Prepare at least two backup copies of anything important
  • Save copies of data in at least two different places
  • Store one copy off-site or in the cloud in case of theft, fire or other disaster
  • Make sure your data is backing up to the correct location(s)
  • Do not back up to the same device that holds the data you want backed up—save a copy to an entirely different device

Verify Your Backups

All drives eventually fail, including backup drives. It’s a good idea to check and make sure this hasn’t happened.

  • Verify that your automated backups are functioning correctly and on-schedule
  • Restore and test a few critical files from each backup device/location to verify that the devices are operational and files are not corrupted or otherwise unusable

Update Your Operating System (OS)

Make sure your operating system is up to date. Security features are almost always included in OS updates, so make sure your Apple, Windows or Google software is running on the most current security updates.

Before any software update, be sure you have a current backup copy of your data and your programs. If the software update fails, a second copy of your important information will ensure that you will not lose your data.

Virus Scan

If you are a Microsoft user but aren’t using the virus scanning software that came with your Microsoft 10 operating system (called Windows Defender), you can download similar programs from providers like Norton, Kaspersky or McAfee.
Norton and McAfee, among others, also offer these free scanning programs for Mac users.

Anti-Virus and Malware Protection

No system is safe without some form of anti-virus or malware software that can protect your information from hackers. Anti-virus software needs to be regularly updated to thwart hackers who change their code and tactics all the time.
There are many choices, but which software works best? Click here for a quick review of 2017 anti-virus software from PC Mag.

Password Protocols

This may sound like a broken record, but everybody needs strong passwords to protect their data. In addition, it’s a very good idea to change your passwords 1–4 times per year. This is a great chore to add to your annual spring cleaning.
A strong password is simply a string of numbers and/or letters that would be hard for a stranger to guess. Do not use common passwords like: 1234, password, wordpass, 2222, the name of your spouse, children or pet or even your own name. Instead, you might want to use a jumbled set of letters and numbers or some type of  pass phrase that only you would recognize. It might include additional special characters and numbers like: mydogisPresident$$, 912#Ilikemymom or Blueismy1favoritecolor.
Do not use the same passwords on different accounts. If a hacker guesses right once, they could get access to all of your important info from all of your sources!
If you have trouble keeping up with all of these suggested changes, consider using special password generating software or a password manager to create hard-to-break passwords and also to keep track of all of the passwords you need.

Organize Your Files

There should be very few files on your desktop, if any. Not only are these files less protected as those kept in libraries like My Documents, but many backup programs don’t back up from the desktop unless manually instructed to do so. Plus, Mac users may find that too much clutter on the desktop slows down the entire computer.
For most of us, the desktop serves as a sort of dumping ground for miscellaneous files that either aren’t intended for long term posterity or need another place to belong. But you never know—there might be something important in that mess!
Take some time to weed through these files and either delete them or find a place for them in My Documents, My Pictures or another library.

Relax After a Job Well Done

Now that you’ve completed your spring cleaning chores, sit back and enjoy knowing that your computer is performing at its peak, your files are backed up and your information is better protected from hackers, data loss and other nasty surprises.

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