March 24, 2013

That's 'e'nough: Time for a digital spring cleaning

Today's torrent of electronic 'stuff' can mean thousands of emails, photos and more cluttering up our devices.

By JENNIFER FORKER The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Allison Carter
click image to enlarge

Allison Carter helps clients cut through digital clutter.

The Associated Press

Shawn Whyte, an information technology consultant in Helena, Mont., recently moved thousands of documents, songs, books and photos from six old computers and personal laptops to a newer one with monster memory (2 TB, or terabytes).

Her favorite tip? If you're a Google gmail user, view and manage your emails through Microsoft Outlook. If you have other email accounts, they all can be viewed via Outlook. It's a time-saver, says Whyte.

"You can sort and move 200 emails at once," she says. "I sorted and deleted 5,000 emails in three hours."

Google it, says Whyte, to find out how to configure an Outlook gmail account. An alternative is Mozilla's Thunderbird.

Some photo-saving tips: Get a program, such as Snapfish, Shutterfly, Google's Picasa or others, to edit, store and share your photos, says Carter. Use Linea to organize your images fast. Use the app Lost Photos to dig up images forgotten in long-ago emails.

"Don't get hung up on being perfect or being orderly," says Carter. "They don't even have to be in time order to enjoy them. It's fun to have them mixed up: You can see how people change."

Finally, says Carter, you have to back up your computer to protect all those emails, photos and documents from suddenly disappearing. She likes CrashPlan, Carbonite and Mozy, which are online, cloud-storing, backup services.

"Having things in the cloud is really going to change things in the next generation," says Carter. "Older folks, we're not used to it. We're leery of it."

Your information in the cloud can be encrypted, says Whyte, and only you can see it.

"It's good to be concerned about privacy, but not so much that it hinders you," she says. "There are reputable companies out there that are good at this."

If your busy life has room for only one digital change, let it be protecting your data.

"Keep your data safe and back it up," says Whyte.


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