We’re one week into 2015, and even if you’re sworn off resolutions (or have already broken a few you’ve made), there are six resolutions that you really ought to make and keep.  We’re not talking about diet, exercise, or finances (though those are good too), but resolutions to keep you on top of our ever-growing digital world.

1.  Clean your gadgets. Ever looked behind your computer at the growing dust bunny colony? Yup, me too. Time to get rid of the dust and grime which can cause your computer to overheat and can slow down performance. Don’t forget to shake out your keyboard and wipe off your mouse too!  And wipe off your smartphone – scientific studies show that the average smartphone contains more than twice as many germs as a public toilet seat.

2. Back up all your devices. This includes your computer, your phone, etc. Simple rule – if you have it, back it up! There are many options for computer backup including internal, external, network drives, online services, thumb drives, and more. Check out this comprehensive list from Consumer Reports:  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/computer-backup-systems/buying-guide.htm .   Pick one, back up your data, and protect yourself from possible loss due to a computer crash.

Your smartphone should have a cloud-based backup system (such as Google Drive for Android or iCloud).  Make sure you’ve turned the app on and that it’s working.

3. Change your passwords. We’ve written about this before (https://www.webdesignsbylao.com/wordpress/internet-safety/) but it bears repeating.  With so much of our personal and work life going digital, password security is more important than ever. The key to online safety is making sure that all of your online accounts are protected by a unique, strong password. Having an account compromised is bad enough but if the stolen password is used on all your other accounts, the problems multiply.  Unbelievably, the most commonly hacked password is still “password.”  Change them … now.  And consider using a password manager.

4. Delete your old accounts, apps and programs. Which accounts (social media and other online accounts) are you still using? When was the last time you used Blogster or MySpace? If you’re not using them, delete them! If you are like the majority of us, your smartphone and tablet are full of apps and games that you no longer use or need. Take a few minutes and erase the one’s you don’t need and free up space for the latest apps.

5. Protect your computer (and smartphone) with antivirus software. No computer system is immune from malware, viruses and trojans. Reduce your risk with a good antivirus program.  There are several decent free programs that should be adequate for the average user.  Consider Microsoft Security Essentials, Bitdefender or AVG Essentials, at a minimum.

6. Don’t use any browser released before 2013. Yes, I’m specifically looking at those of you still using Explorer 8 (released in 2009), Explorer 9 (released in 2011), and Explorer 10 (released in 2012). This is as much about your web experience as anything else. If you’re not using a modern browser, you might be missing out on something good. Outdated browsers will attempt to load pages, but might not render them as the creator intended. And forget support for any problems you might run into.

So that’s our list for 2015 technology resolutions.  Any others you can think of?