Tech Savvy: Spring clean with a digital declutter

Spring is a good time to backup files, update accounts, purge old data, cancel unused subscriptions, and strengthen passwords.

Closeup of hands on laptop computer with emoji faces
Cleaning out the computer files can help the machine’s performance and save important information or irreplaceable images from being lost.<br/><br/><br/>
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

Along with for spring cleaning, this can be a good time to tidy up the digital world as well. Life gets busy and it’s easy to let those computer files, masses of photos and video all add to the clutter.

1. Backup files — Spring is a good time to take stock and backup files on an external hard drive or thumb drive so those important documents or photos can be saved and not lost to social media, general digital clutter, a computer meltdown or other catastrophe.

It’s a good practice to store a backup in a different location whether that is a relative’s house, a bank deposit box or the office — just in case of a major event like a fire. And while there might be a cloud backup, having a physical copy that is easy to access and without recurring costs may also be of benefit.

An external hard drive can hold a ton of data in a small profile and provide a quick way to store information, clean off the computer or provide a backup.

Cleaning out the computer files can help the machine’s performance and save important information or irreplaceable images from being lost.


The prices on these hard drives for a terabyte of storage space is now very affordable.

A Sandisk 1 terabyte hard drive was recently about $70 at Target and Best Buy. A Western Digital My Passport external hard drive for 2 terabytes was recently $64.99 at Best Buy. Even a LaCie Rugged Mini 2 terabyte external hard drive was $99.99 in a recent price check at Amazon and a Seagate 4 terabyte one touch external hard drive was $99.99 at Target.

“The drive capacity is the most important factor to consider, and it can increase or decrease the cost dramatically depending on your needs,” reported in a story on best external hard drives for 2023. “Other factors include the physical size of the drive (is it designed to be carted around, or to sit on your desk?), how rugged it is, the interface it uses to connect to your PC, and even what colors it comes in.”

2. Get organized and stronger — Several tech writers recommended spring as a good time to think about updating and strengthening passwords, organizing files and deleting old ones for a fresh start. Be sure to update to the most recent operating systems, often there are security benefits to taking the time to update.

The University of California, Los Angeles recommends a spring update to review online accounts, update devices, tune up web browsers, purge old digital files, add the strongest authentication tools with a login for every device and a multi-factor authentication — meaning you may use face identification and a password, but also require a second step like a code from your mobile phone. UCLA recommends the two-factor authentication on all critical accounts like banking, email and social media. It may be a good time to check out the security settings, passwords and location tracking, on social media accounts.

Are the contacts up to date in the phone? Should names or numbers be updated on emergency contacts?

And with all the passwords out there, it might be time to consider a password manager that will generate passwords for you so you only have to remember one password to handle all your accounts.

3. Save money — Other recommendations for spring digital cleaning include looking at subscriptions. Are there new ways, via store apps, to connect to favorite retailers and benefit from discounts and special offers. Target Circle was recently offering codes to redeem three free months of AppleTV+, Apple News, Apple Music and/or Apple Arcade or even cloud storage and perks with Ulta Beauty and Tripadvisor.


Some credit cards offer time specific discounts on purchases at certain businesses that may be good for weeks. Look through and activate ones you may use because it never fails that you’ll forget about the discount or money back option when making a purchase, whether that’s for gasoline, a tax program or a food order, but doing it ahead of time makes for a nice feeling when the rebate you forgot about suddenly pops up.

For example, Chase offers cash back via its mobile app. Customers can pick their favorite brands, click on the offers and the cash back automatically shows up when they use a credit or debit card to make the purchase with that retailer.

There may be subscriptions you haven’t used in a while or even forgot you had that may be perfect for canceling. Are there apps on your phone that you’ve never really used in years? It’s a good time to clean the virtual desktop and give them the boot. Cutting down on items you rarely or never use, may bring some gems back to the forefront.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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