Tech Tasks to Start 2014

06 January 2014

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Now that we’re on to the beginning of the first full week of the new year and we’re setting into 2014, it’s a good time to take a look at the technology status quo and see what adjustments can be made for a safe, secure, and productive new year online.

Change passwords. Although once a year is much less frequent than passwords should be changed, memorizing new passwords can be a pain. Once a year is better than never, especially when the same passwords have been around for a while. Take some time to come up with a good pattern for passwords that is easy to remember but difficult to guess then stick to it. Use a pattern that results in different passwords for each website without easily guessed information in it and has a mix of numbers, letters, and other symbols. Interestingly, though it may seem like a good idea given the symbol recommendation, using characters from other languages may not be a good idea as many sites don’t handle the characters correctly, making a password including them less secure. Another option is to use a password management program such as LastPass to store passwords. Storing passwords using a browser is not secure.

Clean up Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, and the like are great for keeping in touch with friends or pretending to keep in touch with various celebrities, but they inevitably end up subscribed to people who served a temporary purpose - a project partner, workmate, or otherwise someone who we don’t intend to be in contact with anymore. Clean them out and make room for the next wave of temporary contacts of the new year. As much as we like sharing things, making sure privacy settings are up to date and still only show the things to people that we expect to be sharing with people is still important. Similarly, it may be a good time to go through and take down anything that shouldn’t have been shared so that they’re less likely to be dug up by anyone or any other services.

Update software and devices. Although turning of Windows Update or the equivalent for phones, computers, and various other devices can be tempting if it gets in the way (and we all knows Windows is great at updating at the worst times), it’s still important to make sure software stays up to date with the latest security patches regardless of operating system. Make sure everything gets updated and if possible, change the update schedule so that things update themselves at more convenient times. Remember! Windows XP stops receiving security updates (and all updates for that matter) in April, so make sure to have an upgrade plan in place when the time comes.

Start backing up your data! Backing up important files to cloud services or other devices is important to do on a regular basis in case of a disaster. Spilling coffee on a laptop, losing a device, or any number of problems can pop up unexpectedly and jeopardize your data. As more and more important information is stored digitally, making sure that multiple copies exist is a must. Backing up data is as simple as copying files to another place and regularly making sure the copies are up to date. Alternatively, sign up for a cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Copy or others, which have the added bonus of keeping files in sync across multiple devices.

And, of course, have a safe and happy 2014.

Care about what the web is doing to our minds? Check out my book, The Thought Trap, at

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