Top digital habits to break in 2016

Handy hints to help you stay in top digital shape this year.

It starts off innocently enough - you get a fresh new computer or email account, and you’re determined to keep it clean and tidy. But then life gets in the way and, before you know it, your digital life becomes cluttered and disorganised.

We’ve pulled together a list of some digital habits that are easy to break and can help you get the most out of your new year.

Digital declutter

A great way to start afresh is through a clean out of your devices. Here are the most common causes of digital clutter and tips to fix them.

1. Overcrowded desktop: Many people treat their desktop as a digital dumping ground for files, images and programs. While this is usually due to a lack of time, it can eventually lead to a cluttered desktop and make it hard to find the file you’re looking for.

Declutter tip: Set some time aside to get that desktop cleared and folders into line. There are two main ways to make this process simple.

  • Manually: The first step is to create some new folders on your hard drive. You can then manually move your files and folders from the desktop into these organised folders. It is also good idea to move or delete the program shortcuts you don’t often use. Lastly, you can always move your frequently used programs shortcuts to your start menu or taskbar so they are easy to find but don’t take up space on your desktop.
  • Using software: If you are time poor, programs like Fences, RocketDock and MyFolders are designed to help automate the process of organising your desktop. 

If you love snapping photos, it's critical to keep track of your storage and organisation.

2. Not labeling and organising your pictures: With most mobile devices equipped with digital cameras, our photo collections don’t ever seem to stop growing.

The problem arises when the device storage fills up or we’re looking for images at a later date.

Declutter tip: A great way to ensure you don’t lose any of your important images is to make use of some of the free cloud storage options like Google PhotosFlickr and Apple iCloud. These sites are a great way to ensure you always have access to your images. They also come with functionality designed to help you organise and rename your images, so you are always able to find them.

3. Overflowing downloads folder: This folder is the default location for any files that you download from the Internet. Unsurprisingly, it can quickly become a drain on your hard drive storage as it fills up with all the images, videos and programs you have downloaded.

Declutter tip: It is a good idea to periodically delete items in this folder. This can help clear up some space and will also ensure no one can find sensitive documents like that bank statement you recently downloaded. When you do delete these items, it is also a great idea to create a backup of all your important documents at the same time.

A good rule of thumb is to save locally to your computer, externally to a thumb or hard drive, and to the cloud using sites like Google DriveDropbox or Onedrive.

If you don't switch off your devices for long stretches, speed could become an issue.

4. Keeping your devices on for long stretches: Keeping your device on for long stretches without a rest might cause them to overheat or slow down.

Declutter tip: If it’s been a while since you have done it, restarting your devices can be a great way to free up some RAM and help speed up slower devices.

Security

Bad digital habits are not just a stumbling block in the way of making your life easier and simpler.

With so much data now available online, digital security is an important consideration.

These bad habits are often simple to fix and will help ensure your online safety.

5. Using the same password for every account: Many people fall into the trap of memorising one password and using it across numerous devices and accounts.

The problem with this approach is that if someone was to find out your password, they will have access to all of your accounts and devices.

Security tip: Using a password manager like Google’s inbuilt browser manager or Dashlane can be a great way to ensure you have unique passwords without the need to memorise them all.

6. Never changing passwords: Many people also pick a password and stick to it forever.

Security tip: As password technology changes, it is good practice to change your password frequently to reduce the chance of anyone gaining access to it.

Check out the 25 passwords you should never use.

7. Staying logged in to other systems: With people using numerous accounts across many devices, it is easy to forget which accounts you might be logged into across different devices.

Security tip: Many programs like Google and Facebook have ways that allow you to log out remotely using another computer.

If this is what your password looks like, the time to change is NOW!

8. Failing to update programs and operating systems: Many people put off updating their devices or operating systems as it can be inconvenient to wait for the updates to download or install.

While sometimes these updates are simply to include new features, often they are to implement security measures for known flaws.

Security Tip: Setting your software or device to update automatically is usually the best way to ensure your computer is protected against any potential threat.

You can even schedule this for when you sleep so you don’t have to worry about any delays during the day.

Adopt some of these handy hints to reduce your bad digital habits and you’ll be in great shape this year.