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4 ways to spring clean your data

By April 10, 2018 July 19th, 2019 No Comments

Spring is here and it’s the traditional time to remove the clutter from your life.

There’s no reason why your data should be exempt from this. It may not be physically there, but it’s sitting there getting dusty nonetheless. So it’s that time of the year to ask yourself: does your data need a good de-cluttering? Is it time to spring clean your data?

Many of us are guilty of being digital hoarders. We hold on to data thinking one day it will come in handy, and it ends up sitting in our folders untouched for years.

Think about it – when was the last time you emptied your downloads folder? When was the last time you cleared out your recycling bin? Are you finding yourself running out of storage space?

The truth is that holding on to too much data is unnecessary and can be counterproductive.

Why is holding on to too much data a bad thing?

  • That data is vulnerable to hacking, risking your IT security.
  • If devices are lost/stolen, your data will be at risk of a data breach.
  • Too much data slows down your computer. If there isn’t enough RAM (memory to run programs) left on your hard drive, your computer will constantly be looking for more RAM and taking it away from other resources. This will slow down your system.

So the less data you have, the safer you are and the more efficient your system will be. The less likely it is that your IT security is at risk. 

Click here to find out more about how Systems IT can improve your IT security.

To avoid becoming a digital hoarder, there are a few things you can do this Spring to give your data a good clean.

1. Get rid of physical devices you don’t use anymore

If you have old USBs and external hard drives sitting around untouched for years, it’s time to let them go.
However, you can’t simply throw them away. With  GDPR coming into force in May, you must make sure the data stored on these devices is cleaned off so it can’t be recovered. Hitting the delete button will not really clear it.

You can either physically destroy the device so it is never recoverable, or get it professionally cleaned. Send it to a specialist data cleaner and they will destroy or overwrite the data for you.

2. Clean your current devices

Now look to the devices you currently use:

  • Remove any unused applications on your desktop
  • Clean your documents folder out, deleting anything you no longer need.
  • Remove any old bank statements or PDFs you have stored.
  • Back up data you may need in the future on the Cloud or a protected external hard drive. Take the data off any devices you use daily, which could be lost/stolen. For more information about Cloud solutions, click here.

Taking these steps will keep you safer as there’s less chance of any sensitive or confidential data getting in to the wrong hands.

3. Close your unused accounts

You probably have more online accounts that you can count. For example, email accounts, social media, banking, shopping, subscriptions, and the list goes on.

It can be difficult to keep track of all of these accounts and there’s probably many you don’t even realise you still have. So it’s time to go through your accounts and delete any that you no longer need or use regularly.

Lots of us are also guilty of using the same passwords for multiple accounts and this makes us vulnerable to hackers.

So this is the perfect opportunity to improve the security of the accounts you do use. Make sure all of your accounts have strong and different passwords. For tips on how to create good passwords and avoid common password mistakes, please click here.

4. Deleting personal data

Under strict new GDPR regulations, you need to take keep a close eye on how long you retain any personal data. Article 5 of the GDPR states you should not keep any personal data for longer than is absolutely necessary. Only hold on to as much data as you need. For more information on GDPR and the right to be forgotten, click here.

There are certain minimum data retention periods that you should be aware of under new GDPR:

  • Employee data such as personal records, appraisals and contracts should be kept for a minimum of 6 years after the individual has left the business.
  • Any hiring data and applications such as CVs, interview recordings and cover letters must be kept for at least 6 months. If you want to keep an applicant’s data for future job opportunities, you must get their consent to do so. Otherwise, you must remove them from your system.

Once data reaches the end of its retention period, it needs to be permanently deleted or archived. If you are deleting the data, make sure to remove it from the live system as well as your back up system. Only archive the data if you will be needing it at a later date.

Not only will doing this mean you’re complying with new GDPR restrictions, it also means you clear out any inaccurate, out of date or irrelevant data that you’ve held on to.

Need more information on how to spring clean your digital life? Systems IT can provide you with IT support and help improve your IT security. So if you need assistance in these areas, get in touch.

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