As the year comes to close and a new one begins, it's a good time to make fresh goals or carry out tasks we have put off for quite some time.
The following list is my personal recommendations for tech related tasks--from the vitally important, backing up your computer hard drive, to the most difficult challenge of spending a whole day without getting on your computer. My list includes links to MUO articles that provide ideas for how to carry out specified tasks, but you're also encouraged to of course research other ideas and solutions. I also welcome your recommendations for tech related tasks I didn't include in this list.
1. Backup Your Computer Hard Drive
Technicians who repair computers say that, still less than half of computer users back up their hard drive. While with most newer computers, hard drive failures may occur less, it only takes one for it to happen and loss of all your data.
Justine's article on Redo Backup is a good one for PC users, while the default Time Machine and Super Duper are good programs for Mac users. A full backup of your system requires an external hard drive that is larger than the memory of your computer's internal drive. Create an automatic system so backups can be done and checked on a regular basis.
2. Backup Media Files
If you are storing photos, music, and other important media files on your computer, these files should be a part of your backup system, but I suggest you also keep a special off-site backup of photo files that are most important to you. Precious photo files can't be replaced, so copying them to an external drive, such as a thumb drive, can be serious insurance against loss of most your important photos.
If you have enough room on a Google, Dropbox,or any other cloud storage account, backing up precious media files to a dedicated storage is another data recovery solution. It's simply a matter of dragging and copying important files to another location.
3. Change Passwords
Change the password of your financial and administrative accounts, your router, and other sensitive accounts or pieces of hardware. I know it's a mental challenge to memorize new passwords, but for the accounts you access on a regular basis, it's well worth the effort.
4. Clean Out The Hard Drive
Take an hour and clean out your computer's hard drive of files and applications you no longer use. Especially look for those files that are over a few hundred megabytes and determine if you still need them.
5. Create a Photo Book
After you have backed up all your photos, create a book of the year's most memorable photos. Sure, it's great to have your photos stored on Facebook or Flickr.com, but a printed book is still more tangible and attractive for viewing your precious memories.
Even if you have lots of low-resolution photos, on your smart phone for instance, they can still be published in a photo book. In the U.S., stores like Wallgreens and Costco have fairly easy online ways to layout and order printed photo books.
6. Budget Your Money
If you're not doing a good job of keeping track of your finances and budgeting your money, sign up for a free Mint.com account. Allowing Mint to download your financial accounts is one of the best ways to monitor and budget your spending. It's like the old envelope budgeting system, but it's all digital.
7. Cook New Meals
If your typical dinner meals are becoming a little stale, subscribe to one or more online recipe sites, and commit to cooking at least 5-10 new dinners next year.
I use the Paprika iPhone app to download recipes and keep track of favorite meals.
8. Cancel Subscriptions
Go through your email client and unsubscribe to newsletters and social website notifications you haven't been responding to. Reducing email clutter can reduce the amount of time you spend reading and managing emails, and thus help you make time for other things.
9. Automate Computer Tasks
If you haven't been using automation workflows and keyboard shortcuts, you're probably not being as productive on your computer as you could be. There are ways to automate tasks on a PC, Mac , and Ubuntuwithout knowing a single word of code. There are even ways to automate online tasks, using tools like ifttt. Make a goal of creating a few automation hacks. Once you do a few, you'll no doubt want to do more.
10. No Computer Day
Choose one day a week in which you avoid getting on the computer. As much as the computer is a part of our daily routine, it can cause us to become detached from other important responsibilities and social interactions. I try to avoid getting my computer either on Saturday or Sunday, unless it's related to work.
Well, these are my ten recommendations. What are yours? Start today and make a list of the tech related tasks you need to get done.
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