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It’s a snowy January day in Iowa and the wind is howling outside as you contemplate how to spend your day off: A Netflix binge of “The Crown” or grab your iPad and see who is posting on Facebook? How about using the time for a home tech tuneup?

You may want to start with your backup strategy. If you have multiple computers and several people creating documents and presentations, and downloading photos you need more than a flash drive to archive files. Your important files and photos should be backed up with a two-part approach. First, invest in an external hard drive for each one of your computers and then use a cloud-based storage service such as Drop Box, Google Drive or iCloud. You might also use Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365, which allow you to create and store documents and presentations online and access them from any device anywhere. If you use a smartphone to take photos, your photos are backing up to iCloud if you use Apple and Google Photos if you use Android. This is a good time to delete photos you don’t need. You can also share photos, make minor edits and create photo projects.

Clean up your computer by taking out the trash and deleting files you don’t need anymore. Spending an hour looking at your documents, creating file folders to make it easier to find things and deleting older drafts or duplicates is time well invested. Decluttering your computer will do wonders for your morale and make you more productive.

Next, tackle your mobile devices. You may have an iPad, Kindle Fire and iPhone or Galaxy. When was the last time you synced those devices? Are there apps you don’t use taking up space? Do you have a dedicated place to charge your devices? While you’re at it, grab a microfiber cloth and treat all of your screens to a nice swipe.

Check your passwords. Stop using the same password for every account. That’s an invitation to get hacked. Look at your list of accounts and change passwords from time to time. Weed out the accounts you no longer use. Consider using a password manager like Last Pass. If you have a Gmail account, check out Google’s Smart Lock, which tracks your passwords. To see your list of accounts and passwords on Smart Lock, visit www.passwords.google.com.

Finally, is an upgrade in your future? Think about ways you can repurpose your old technology. For years, I kept my old iPhone handy to read eBooks while waiting at a hospital or airport to save my current phone’s battery. Older laptops and tablets can generally be used for word processing. If you decide to discard devices, first get any pictures or data copied off, and then wipe it, using the settings for each device, and contact the manufacturer for where to recycle it.

This tech tune-up will help your 2018 be more productive and safeguard your documents and photos. Starting the year off with good tech habits just feels good. Then maybe you can reward yourself with an episode of “The Crown” after all.

Cherie Dargan is a retired Hawkeye Community College communications instructor.

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