Digital Cleaning This Spring

May 15, 2013

It’s that time of year when you clean out your closets, dust off shelves, and spruce up your floors. Once you’ve taken care of the dust and dirt, what about some digital cleaning? Going through all your files and computers may seem like a daunting task, but we found ways to make the process fairly painless.

Leftover laptops

After my last laptop died, I was taking it out to the trash when my roommate stopped me and informed me that I couldn’t just throw it in the garbage.

“So what do I do with it?” I asked. Neither of us had a clue.

It turns out there are a couple different options. In Boston, you can schedule a pick-up of your old computer so it can be recycled. Best Buy and Staples also have drop-off options.

While you’re cleaning out old laptops and computers, you might find that old cell phone you haven’t used in years. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of resources to help you properly recycle any of your electronic devices:

Need some extra cash? Gazelle helps you sell your old phones, iPads, and Macs.

Computer aquarium

Photo by Wahj via flickr

There are also some other fun options when it comes to recycling your old computer. You can turn your old PC into an aquarium or express your creativity by making a sculpture with your unused electronics.

Whatever you end up doing with your old computer, whether it becomes a sculpture or just gets recycled, remember to wipe your hard drive.

Back it up!

While you are clearing out old computers, take the time to back up your files. A combination of local and off-site backups is the best plan. Here are some options:

It’s also a good time to make sure your drives are encrypted and that your operating system and browsers are up to date.

While your computer is busy getting updated, review all those apps on your smartphone. Are there some you haven’t used in the last six months? If so, get rid of them.

Sorting through your e-mail

Sometimes I look at my inbox and just give up trying to organize my hundreds of e-mails. Luckily, I’ve discovered some helpful tools to make the process a lot easier:

  • Shopilly: This tool mines all the marketing e-mails from your inbox and arranges them on a Pinterest-like board so you can easily browse them.
  • Sanebox: This tool creates a folder within your inbox that filters the most urgent messages to the top and the less important e-mails to the bottom.

Cleaning up your social media

While you are clearing out old data and properly disposing of old computers, why don’t you take an audit of your social media accounts?

Socioclean is a program that scans your accounts and alerts you to inappropriate posts. You also get a grade based on your content. You can have your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Linkedin accounts inspected.

Do you have any tips or tricks for digital cleaning? Share below!

Note that Harvard Extension School does not endorse any website or tools listed in this blog post. They are provided simply as a resource.

Nelsan Ellis replied:
It's always a great idea to review your social accounts. I'd also recommend for those with website access/control to have a content clear out too. A good content audit can help you cut away the dead wood and re-purpose it to better fit what clients and visitors are looking for.