Spring clean your tech – how to dump your digital junk

20 Mar 2012

It’s the spring equinox, the time when tech users’ thoughts may turn to spring cleaning their technology in addition to giving the heave ho to old and non-used household items.

Performing a big cleanup can be a daunting task, so in an effort to help, Siliconrepublic.com presents a guide to doing away with digital junk:

Organise digital photos and videos. Download them right from your camera or micro SD card, and, depending on what you prefer, save them to your computer’s hard drive, a USB flash drive or onto free programmes, such as Google’s Picasa or Apple’s iPhoto, which are both free to use. Remember to make backup copies, too, and delete any photos or videos you don’t want to keep.

Delete old and/or non-used files. Go though all those folders on your computer or laptop and delete anything that’s no longer of any use. This will also clear up memory on your machine so you can now save new data, like those photos you’ve just downloaded.

To get rid of what you’ve deleted for good, use a hard-drive wiping programme, such as Eraser for Windows PCs or ShredIt X for Macs.

Scan hard copies for digital storage. If you have access to a scanner, consider making digital copies of important documents, such as your work contract, birth certificates or receipts you need to hold onto. Then you can shred and recycle any paper documents you no longer need or want to hold onto, and thus clear up physical space, too.

Sell or recycle old or unwanted gadgets. Make some cash out of unused gadgets by selling them on sites such as eBay or DoneDeal.ie. If the gadgets are no longer worth much, recycling them is still an option.

Organisations such as Camara welcome old computers, which they wipe clean of data, refurbish and load with educational software, and then set them up as Learning Centres in schools in Africa and Ireland.

Recycling Appeal collects mobile phones and printer cartridges for charity, while Recycling.ie offers a list of recycling centres throughout Ireland.

Clean up contacts lists. Have a look through your contacts list on your phone or email account – do you really need every single one that’s there? If not, you know what to do.

Social network sweep. Odds are we all have Facebook friends who aren’t really friends – maybe they’re people we met once while travelling but then never kept in touch with again. Consider trimming down your friends list by – gasp – ‘unfriending’ contacts, but if that seems too harsh, use the ‘unsubscribe’ option to keep them from appearing in your news feed.

The same goes for Twitter – are there any accounts you have followed but don’t really pay attention to now? Delete what is no longer relevant or interesting and you’ll find you’ll get through those tweets much more quickly, as well.