Computer health and system security is a cornerstone of good business and directly impacts your productivity whether you like it or not.
If you’re not sure what I mean by that, read on because you really need to know this.
If you are sure what I mean by that, read on to find out if you’re doing it right!
There’s nothing quite like a fresh start!
It feels great to be at the beginning of a project with ALL the opportunity laid out before you, when ALL the possibilities do indeed seem endless and before you get sidetracked or waylaid by duty or other distractions.
That’s why I like to take the beginning of a new month to tune-up my tech!
There’s no better habit you can get into than to take a few minutes (and it really does only take a few minutes) to change your passwords (or at the very least your Master Password), clear out your browser cache and run a system cleaner to rid your computer of all the cyber-dross it inevitably picks up and gathers as we go about our business on the web.
Regardless if you’re a PC or Mac user, you need to be tuning-up your browser/s every month, before your videos start stuttering and your systems grind to an untimely halt. After all, you wouldn’t live in your house without making some effort to keep it clean.
Changing of the Guard: Change your passwords
I know it’s unlikely you’re going to change all of your passwords, that’s pretty much not a viable proposition for most of us these days, especially if you’re running an online business or website. However, it only takes a minute or two to change the Master Password to your Password Manager and that’s something I recommend you do every month.
Check out this post for some great tips on How to Pick Strong Passwords. A simple system to create passwords that are easy to recall and a foolproof way to write a hint that’ll help you figure it out while hindering snoopers and hackers!
Yes, I hear you though, some days I’m doing well to remember what I had for breakfast by as early as elevenses, never mind a password I have to remember and then remember to change that every month to be properly secure…say it ain’t so!
So, for something that’s essential to be able to recall quickly, I might actually re-use a STRONG password (I hear that sharp intake of breath) but modify it with a 4-6 digit number that makes sense to me.
The easiest way to modify an “already strong” password is to add a multi-digit month and year or switch up a special character or two at beginning and end. Check out the video in this post to learn how to Create Strong Passwords.
Of course, the very best way to always use strong passwords and keep them secure is to use a Password Manager. I recommend LastPass you can get the basic Application for free and use it across ALL your devices for free, but it’s well worth $2 per month for the added features and Premium support (although I’ve never needed it).
Don’t be put off by thinking you’ll need to gather all your passwords to setup and start using LastPass. You simply sign-up for an account then go about your business as usual. Each time you visit a web page that requires a login and password LastPass will ask if you would like to add it to your “vault” building as you go. Just be sure to create a strong Master Password and a good hint so you won’t forget that Last-Pass-word you’ll ever need to remember.
Browser Bloat: Tech you can tweak in a trice
As I said earlier, when you go about your business on the web, you can’t help but pick up what I call cyber-dross. This is the cyber-clutter that comes along with the wealth of knowledge and information that’s at our fingertips every time we touch our keyboard. This means cookies, retargeting pixels (which are another kind of cookie), temporary thumbnails images and video files.
Some of these files make it faster to login to websites using cached (stored) cookies and files, so depending on your usage and browsing preferences you may want to run a cleaner utility to analyze what’s taking up space and then select the items you want to keep in the browser memory.
NEVER let your browser save your passwords, that’s really just asking for trouble. It would only take a few minutes (if that) searching your browser history for anyone to figure out which sites might be worth trying to access. If your passwords are saved in the browser anyone with access to your system, or device can access your accounts.
Here are just a few other reasons not to allow a browser to save your passwords:
- If/when you do clear your cookies you’ll also be clearing your passwords (so you won’t have access to them any longer)
- If you lose your laptop/tablet/phone or hackers access your system from “outside” (using a keylogger or RAT – Remote Access Trojan) they will have all your passwords
- Anytime your system is left unattended, say on your desk at lunch time or after hours, anyone who happens by and clicks on it could potentially access all of your accounts
Click here to learn how to clear Passwords already set in your browser.
The problem is that good info (on the web) typically comes along with a whole slew of temporary files and fluff. So by the time you’ve been tooling around the web for, oh about a month or so, you’ll have gathered a Texas tumbleweeds worth of trash in your browser.
This is the cyber flotsam, you should jetsam (or jettison pardon the pun). This is the trash that will slow down your surfing and your system if you don’t dump it overboard before it causes you to crash on the rocks of painfully pitiful performance.
How to Clean Your Computer: Data You Should Dump
Likewise, your system itself will pick up data and dross as you go about creating new docs and such, so it too needs a “virtual enema” to rid itself of unused and undesirable files and flotsam.
I use CCleaner Pro to keep my systems running like Usain Bolt. I run the analyzer which takes care of cleaning all browser caches and does a great job of finding files that can be safely deleted.
Then I run the Registry Keys function to find and fix any issues arising from adding or uninstalling programs. Registry keys often get left behind in that process so it’s a quick bit of housekeeping to clean those up while I’m going about optimizing computer health.
A Word About WordPress & Plugins
Another smart habit to get into each month is updating WordPress, themes and Plugins, especially if you’re not already doing that on a weekly basis.
Even if you have managed WordPress hosting service, most managed providers don’t include updating your plugins (although our Managed WP Updates services DOES INCLUDE plugin updates) and that can leave your hosting account and website/s exposed to vulnerabilities via out of date plugins.
A Timely Habit to Get Into
So the first of the month is a great time to not only give yourself a fresh start, but to invest a few minutes to give your systems a bit of a boost too with a fresh start of their own. It’s easy-peasy and maintaining your computer’s health will save you gobs of time and money in the long run.
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