The coronavirus pandemic has completely disrupted the way we live. Want to dine out or hit up the bar? Forget about it. Shopping at the mall? Way too risky and all the stores are closed, anyway.
Instead, most of us are making the smart choice and staying safe at home until further notice. Feeling disconnected from your friends and family? Tap or click to throw a virtual get-together.
When the workday ends and all the bars are closed, what’s a person supposed to do? There are only so many times you can clean out the linen closet or page through Netflix. Why not do some digital housekeeping? Call it a “virtual spring cleaning.”
These tasks will make your tech safer and more secure, and they may even get you a speed boost. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Repurpose your old phone or tablet as a security camera
State and local governments are urging folks to stay home for their own safety. With so many people indoors, how safe is everyone, really, from intruders and criminals? It’s more important now than ever that we feel secure.
If your home doesn’t have a security system, it’s easy to repurpose an old smartphone or tablet into a security camera with help from a simple app.
Android users can download an app like IP Webcam, which is free to use and only requires a Wi-Fi connection. A premium version is available with features like motion-detection and automatic uploads to services like Dropbox.
For those who own iPhones, you can download Manything, which uses cloud storage to save your recordings and features options like motion detection and push notifications.
Once your app is installed, just point the device’s camera toward an area you want to keep an eye on and make sure it’s set up at a good vantage point, like a second-story window. This will help you spot intruders or criminals without them ever knowing about your camera.
Don’t want to go the DIY route? Protect your entire home, 24/7, with SimpliSafe’s lineup of video doorbells, window sensors, smart locks and HD cameras. Go to SimpliSafeKim.com and get free shipping and a 60-day, money-back guarantee.
2. Digitize your old photos and videos
In all your real-life cleaning, there’s a good chance you stumbled upon a box of old photos or VHS tapes. Now’s the perfect time to preserve them.
Even better, once these memories are digitized, you can easily share them with family and friends around the world.
Although some brick-and-mortar photo outlets like Walgreens or Costco are still open, we wouldn’t recommend visiting them for photo and video needs right now.
Instead, try a mail-in service like iMemories, ScanMyPhotos or FotoBridge. With these platforms, you select a plan and mail your physical media to the companies to scan and upload. When the process is complete, you’ll get your originals back in the mail along with digital files you can download.
If you’re more of a DIY-er, order a digital scanner. Our sponsor Epson’s FastFoto wireless high-speed photo scanner is our device of choice to get clear, brilliant scans of your photos fast.
Just plug one of these gadgets into your computer, place your photo inside and presto — you’ll have a digital file. Tap or click here for more great ways to digitize your memories.
3. Download a copy of your Facebook photos, too
Facebook isn’t just a place where you can store digital photos. You can download all of them back to your system, along with all your other personal data, anytime you want.
To get started, open your Facebook settings and choose “Your Facebook Information.” Then choose “Download Your Information.” Check the box that says “Photos and Videos” and click “Create File” to create the archive.
This process can take some time — especially if you have a lot of photos or videos. Once Facebook is done, you’ll get a notification and an email telling you your archive is ready to download. When you get the alert, click “Download” to receive your information, photos and videos.
Just make sure your computer has enough storage to fit everything. Seriously, these downloads can be huge.
4. Update and streamline your LinkedIn account
People across the country have experienced layoffs and furloughs in response to the coronavirus crisis. As a result, more than 3.28 million people have filed for unemployment in the past few weeks.
As bad as this is, the pandemic isn’t forever. Work opportunities will return and there are plenty of essential jobs available right now in high-demand industries. Tap or click here to see the top 10 businesses that are hiring now.
Whether you plan on applying now or waiting for a better market, the best thing you can do is clean up your resume and professional profile on LinkedIn.
First, make sure your resume is up to snuff. List recent jobs, years employed and explain employment gaps. The coronavirus pandemic is a perfectly fine explanation if you lost your job or can’t find work. Tap or click here for more pro tips to create a winning resume.
Next, go to your LinkedIn profile and fill in any missing information that can help you stand out to potential employers. A professional photo is a good start. The file should be a high-quality 200 pixel by 200 pixel headshot. No selfies.
Finally, reach out and network with prospective employers. If you’re just submitting an application, they’ll never see your face or hear your voice. Connecting on LinkedIn will help put a face to your name and networking can set you up for success down the road.
5. Google your name and see what you find
If you’re prepping for work or life after quarantine, you need to make sure the information people see about you online won’t harm future job prospects. Even if you’re not job searching, this is a good way to make sure there’s nothing floating around on the web you don’t know about.
When you Google your name, you’ll usually see your social media profiles at the top, as well as any blogs, websites or content you’ve put your name to. Check each of your profiles to make sure they’re set to private and delete any information you don’t want publicly visible.
You might even want to delete your profiles altogether if you can’t be bothered to go through everything. Tap or click here to learn how to delete your personal data from the internet.
6. Remove yourself from people search websites
In addition to social media profiles, you’ll also see genealogy and people search websites like FamilyTreeNow when you Google your name. These platforms collect publicly available information about everybody and will sell that data to businesses, advertisers and private investigators.
They’re seriously creepy. These websites reveal a shocking amount of personal information, including names, addresses and even who your family members are.
Most of these sites don’t make it particularly easy to remove your info, either. You have to submit a request, usually by visiting the “Contact Us” page and sending an email.
Here’s how you can remove yourself from FamilyTreeNow:
- Visit the Family Tree Now Opt Out page or go to familytreenow.com/optout. Click the “Begin Opt-Out Procedure” button.
- You will be routed to a free search page. Run a search on yourself. If you’ve used multiple names or lived in multiple states, search each one, just to be safe.
- Once you find yourself, click on the record details. Verify this record is, in fact, you and not someone else with the same or similar name.
- Once you’re certain it’s your record, click the red “Opt Out This Record” button.
Each people search platform has its own way of doing things and you may need to take additional steps to fully remove your data. Tap or click here to see how to delete your personal data from the most popular people search platforms.
7. Get a free credit report and keep an eye on your score
Cybercrime is reaching staggering rates right now. It’s because of our current economic downturn, as well as the fact that more people than ever are working from home and using the internet.
And where there’s cybercrime, there’s also the very real threat of identity theft. Tap or click here to find out why cybercrime is increasing during COVID-19.
To stay safe, keep a close eye on your credit score by using free credit monitoring tools like Credit Karma or AnnualCreditReport.com. This way, you can keep an eye out for discrepancies like accounts you didn’t open, fraudulent loans and fraudulent charges as they happen. Tap or click to monitor your credit for free.
Additionally, signing up for identity protection can add an extra layer of security to your credit score. Our sponsor Identity Guard not only gives you access to free credit reporting but also real-time alerts for your bank account and credit score. Get up to 33% off for Kim’s audience only, with plans starting at less than $7 a month at IdentityGuard.com/Kim.
8. Check the permission settings for your apps
Sometimes, apps ask for more information than they need. That’s why checking your app permissions frequently is good practice. This gives you more control over your privacy and allows you to stop apps from spying or running down your battery in the background.
Think through what you’re giving permission to and why. For example, Christmas-themed Android apps were asking users for microphone and camera access. Those features aren’t necessary for the apps to run, so why are they asking? To get your private data, of course. Tap or click to see some nosey apps you need to delete from your phone.
To see what apps have what permissions on Android devices, open Settings and tap the Advanced tab. Select Privacy and go through each app to adjust their permissions.
If you own an iPhone, open the Settings app and scroll down to Privacy. You can adjust the permissions for each app by topics like Location Services, Microphone and Camera.
Apps that overdo it with permissions requests tend to use these settings to track you. Sometimes, they’ll even use permissions to access your contacts and spread themselves further by email.
Always check the location, microphone and camera permissions first, then look and see what other parts of your phone your apps want access to. Tap or click here for more ways to stop your phone from tracking you.
9. Turn your tablet into a second monitor
Working from home means more time on the computer. And more time on the computer means an endless amount of windows and tabs. Wouldn’t it be easier if you had two screens?
Well, you don’t need to venture outside and risk your health to get a second monitor these days. All you need is a spare tablet and an app that makes it work with your Mac or Windows PC.
Apps like Duet Display can be installed on your computer and tablet. Once the downloads are complete and the software is fully installed, all you need to do is connect your tablet to its charging cable and connect the cable to the USB port of your computer, then fire up the software. Tap or click here for more on Duet Display
10. Speed up that slow computer
Last, but not least, you’ll want to make sure your computer is working at peak performance during your time indoors. After all, you’re going to be using it a lot over the next few weeks.
Routine maintenance, such as cleaning out your computer with a can of compressed air, is a good way to unclog fans and clear circuit boards. You should also free up space by deleting unnecessary programs and files from your desktop and downloads folder.
Most importantly, update your computer’s software. If you have a Windows 10 device, click the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of your screen and click the Settings icon. Select Update & Security, then install the next available patch or update that appears.
Mac users just have to open the App Store app and tap Updates on the left sidebar. Choose an update to download and wait for it to install. Easy, right?
Now that your digital life is clean and organized, you can relax and focus on the more important things, like family and video calls with friends. That’s the real beauty of our modern digital lifestyles: We don’t have to go it alone.