This past year reminded us of the importance of personal hygiene.  We learned and adopted certain behaviors to help keep ourselves and others safe, making them part of our everyday life.

This could also be applied to your electronic devices. Adopting a few simple steps before logging off or shutting down for the day can help protect your information and avoid threats from bad guys. Making “device hygiene” a daily process helps your computer, tablet or phone run quickly and safely by deleting unnecessary or potentially harmful files.

These are smaller files and “cookies” that security software usually ignores. But these files can slow your device as they grow over time, possibly sharing more information without your knowledge to bad guys.

The key to effective device hygiene is making it a part of a regular routine. Just as you brush your teeth each day, scrub your devices daily. 

What to do

There are multiple ways to clean your devices of unneeded files. Here are general steps you can take as part of a daily routine.

  • Clear your cache: Visit your internet browser’s settings and delete your history and cookie data. Make sure to download or save important files before you do this. You can also turn cookies “off” to prevent sites automatically installing them on your device. It may be helpful to write these steps down as you get used to this process. Some devices also may have settings to do this automatically when you turn the device off.
  • Check downloads: Make sure you recognize the items which have been downloaded to your device. Remove anything suspicious or that you don’t recognize.
  • Use cleaning software:  Many computers have a program that cleans the local hard drive and may also provide automatic, scheduled sweeps for easy use.
  • Check apps: Make sure apps are up-to-date and remove any apps that you don’t recognize or use. You can also close apps to prevent them from continually running without your knowledge.
  • Repeat regularly: Do this each day as you finish your work and make it a routine.

There is no danger in clearing your browsing history and cache. You can keep what you want and any favorites or shortcuts you create are protected. Your device will connect and function normally.

If you have questions about how to do any of this on your specific device, please check with your device’s manufacturer to find the recommended programs and procedures. Devices provided by your company may not allow you access to do some of this. You can contact your employer’s IT department to see how to best incorporate device hygiene into your daily work life.

More information

If you’ve noticed more sites requiring you to “accept cookies” it’s because that is a new transparency requirement.

As we become more and more digital, it’s important to keep our devices running safely and efficiently. Taking just a few minutes can give you peace of mind. You can learn more by reading one of these blogs.