…and make sure they’re strong.
Listen, I know it’s tempting to use the same “super secure inside joke password” for every account, but reusing a password is the most dangerous thing you can do for your online privacy. If you can only take one thing away from this article, let it be this: do not use the same password.
The secret to crafting a strong password? Make it long. Write a sentence, then replace random letters with numbers and other characters. If you’re having trouble coming up with something you can remember, use a password manager like LastPass, 1Password, or Dashlane to generate random strings.
You can also try creating a “recipe” system. Start with a basic password and use elements of the website (like “A” for amazon). Incorporate that identifier into each site’s specific password. Password Chef ($3, iOS) is an app that can help you create the recipe and the resulting password.
Enabling two-factor authentication will require a password *and* a special code texted to your phone. This will add an extra protective barrier to iCloud, Venmo, Gmail, Facebook, and the hundreds of other services that support it. Here is a list of sites that are two-factor-friendly.
Pro-tip: Make sure you have a backup passcode in case your external device is lost or stolen. Print it out (but don’t write down something like “Gmail backup passcodes” on the paper) and put it in a safe place. For Gmail, you’ll find these codes here.
First, identify what’s taking up all the space.
On an iPhone, go to Settings app > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage. Here, you’ll see apps in order of how much data they’re hogging. For some apps, like Podcasts, you can delete content right from Settings.
What to do to reclaim space on your iPhone:
- Delete and re-install apps with large “documents and data” requirements (shown in Manage Storage).
- Delete burst photos (Open the Photos app > Albums > Burst > tap Select.
- Delete Safari browsing history (Settings > Safari > Clear History and Browsing data, then scroll down to the bottom, tap Advanced).
- For Chrome, open the Chrome app, tap the menu icon, tap History, then Clear browsing data.
- Keep only recent texts (Settings > Messages > under Message History select 30 Days).
- Turn off Photo Stream (Settings > Photos & Camera > disable My Photo Stream).
- Keep only the HDR photo (go to Settings > Photos & Camera > scroll down, disable Keep Normal Photo).
- Turn off as many app notifications as possible.
- For music apps like Spotify, disable Available Offline for as many playlists and albums as you can live without.
- Delete podcasts, videos, and books.
- Delete old voicemail (swipe left).
To make space in your iCloud account, here’s an easy tip.
What to do to reclaim space on your Android device:
The easiest way to get more space is to get a microSD card and move your data onto it. Then go to Settings > Apps (or Application Manager for Samsung devices). Tap on an app, scroll down, and select Move to SD Card for apps that take up the most space.
You can identify what’s taking up the most space by going to Settings > Storage. If it’s not clear what exactly is hogging up your precious gigabytes, use an app like DiskUsage (free) to clear cached data.
Backing up your digital photos might help your storage problems in resolution #3, too. Sites like Google Photos and Flickr offer many gigabytes worth of storage for free, and their mobile apps can automatically back up the images in your camera roll.
Tackle those physical photos next. Yes, archiving seems INCREDIBLY DAUNTING but it doesn’t have to be. You can outsource your photo project to services like Legacybox ($75 to $500, preserve any format), ScanMyPhotos (16 cents per scan, $145 per box), ScanCafe (33 cents per scan), and others. You can also use an app like Heirloom (free, iOS and Android) which uses your phone’s camera to archive photos.
If you use in-ear headphones, especially while exercising, your buds are probably harboring old wax, germs, and other residue. Dip a cotton swab in alcohol to break down wax on the exterior, then use a toothbrush to safely dislodge dirt from the speaker mesh.
Here’s a guide on how to clean (almost) all of your electronics.
You don’t need to unsubscribe from all of them (especially those darned sale emails that take all of your money). Use Unroll.me to consolidate the newsletters and promotions you do want to keep, and banish everything else.
Here’s how to unsubscribe and ~*dramatically*~ reduce your inbox bloat:
- Open Gmail on a desktop browser, and click on the Promotions tab.
- Click on any newsletter.
- Copy the sender’s email address.
- Press command + F then type Unsubscribe. Click the link to unsubscribe.
- In the new window, follow instructions to unsubscribe.
- Return to Gmail. In the search bar type from: and paste the address. (Don’t leave a space between from: and the email address)
- Click the checkbox on the top left to select all emails on the page. Then click Select all conversations that match this search
- Now click the trash icon to delete all emails.
To stop hating your email entirely, try BuzzFeed Life’s five-day inbox cleanse.
Did you know that the more tabs makes a computer more sluggish? How many tabs do you have open right now? 5? 15? 50?
OneTab, a free Chrome and Firefox extension, can help. It adds a button that converts all tabs to a single list with one click. When you need to access a site, you can restore one or all.
Every item left on your desktop is a little memory hit (especially for Macs) – and it adds up, fast. Move files to other folders or (gasp) delete them.
My favorite way to declutter things on a Mac is to go to View in the menu bar > Arrange by > Date modified, which will reveal all of the old files you don’t need.
Resolve to stop destroying your sleep in 2016. Exposing eyes to the blue light of a phone or computer can prevent your body’s production of melatonin, which helps make you sleepy.
If you *must* look at electronics before hitting the hay, download F.lux (free, Windows, Mac, and Linux). It adapts the color of a computer display to the time of day. When the sun sets in your area, your display will start emitting a warm, orange-ish glow. F.lux is also available for iOS but requires a bit of tinkering (read: a jailbroken iPhone).
(And contacts who you’ll never contact again)
- Go to Contacts.
- Click More > Find & merge duplicates.
On the Mac:
- Open the Contacts app.
- Make a copy of your contacts by selecting all contacts and clicking File > Export > Export vCard.
- Select Card > Look for Duplicates.
- Click Merge when necessary, and continue until no contacts are found.
On Outlook 2013:
- Click People.
- In Current View > Phone, hold down Control to select each contact you want to delete.
On Facebook, click on the padlock icon (top right) > select Privacy Checkup. There, you’ll be able to control who sees your posts, which apps have access to your Facebook profile information, and what people see on your profile. You should also learn how to change the audience of a post that’s already on your Timeline.
For Twitter, click here to go to your security settings. Pay special attention to these categories: Password reset, Tweet location, Personalization, and Direct Messages.
Software updates protect you with virus-fending security patches and other fun things like bug fixes.
On a Mac:
* Open App Store > Updates.
* Click on the arrow next to Update All to schedule a reminder (Try in an Hour, Remind Me Tomorrow).
* Some updates are also available on Apple’s Downloads site.
On Windows 10:
* Hit the Start button > Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Advanced options, then choose how updates are installed.
* If you select Automatic, the operating system will restart your computer when you’re not using it.
The goal here is to set it and forget it. Whether you’re backing up to the cloud or an external hard drive, confirm that you have a plan in place in case your device fails or the zombies take over.
Crashplan ($12.50 per month for up to ten computers) offers unlimited online backup with a subscription (or free backup to an external drive). With online backup, you can access any file from any device, anywhere.
DollyDrive is an elegant Mac-only solution that keeps your files in a simple cloud back up, and offers versioning, so you can revert files to an old version at any time. Plus, unlike Crashplan (which has a web interface), DollyDrive has a native Mac app. There is no unlimited storage plan, so it’s better for people that have between 250GB ($10 per month) to 2 terabytes ($55 per month).
Carbonite is great software for Windows computers. It has versioning as well (you can roll back to three months). Pricing ranges from $5 to $150 per month for unlimited cloud storage.
All of these services have free trials, and I strongly encourage you to try before you buy!
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