Declutter Your Digital Files

It's easy for our digital selves to get cluttered and disorganized. A proper Marie Kondo approach to thinning out old files can keep your devices and information more secure. Plus it can improve the speed and performance of your devices. 

Here are a few things you can do to improve your digital security and online safety:

1. Review Online Accounts

  • Delete any online accounts no longer in use.
  • If an account is still in use, remove any information that is no longer needed, like saved credit cards or documents in cloud storage.
  • Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure that they remain set to your comfort level for sharing.

2. Update and Purge Devices

  • Update applications and operating systems on all devices that connect to the Internet.
    • Remove any applications no longer in use.
  • Purge old files - before you begin: back up important data to a secure cloud site, another computer, or external drive. Remember to password protect backup drives, too.
    • Once you’re sure you aren’t deleting anything important, remove old files, emails, and downloads that have accumulated but are no longer needed. Remember to empty the trash/recycle bin when done.
    • Review the UCOP record retention guidelines to ensure any University data you have is handled appropriately. Reach out to our campus records management coordinator if you need help.
  • Unsubscribe from old newsletters, email alerts, and mailing lists.

3. Lockdown Logins

  • When available, activate multi-factor authentication on your banking, email, and social media accounts. 
  • Take an inventory of your passwords – Are they strong? Is a unique password used for each site, device, or file?
  • Use a password manager (UC Berkeley offers free LastPass Premium to all users with a CalNet ID) to help you do all of those things and more.

4. Tune-up Web Browsers

  • Many browsers store your passwords or autofill settings, but this isn’t secure. Use a password manager instead.
  • Check your browser settings, clear out old data, and ensure that autofill doesn’t contain sensitive information or stored passwords.

5. Securely Dispose of Electronic Devices

Specialized secure deletion tools are needed for this purpose - the Secure Deletion Guideline provides recommendations for disk and file deletion tools. As stewards of Berkeley data, you have an obligation to delete or destroy protected data when it is no longer needed.  Following are steps for meeting this requirement:

  • Identify any protected data that you handle by referencing the Data Classification Standard (see "Know what you have" above).
  • Determine an appropriate retention period for removing sensitive data (e.g., immediately upon completion of task, weekly, monthly, annually) - check with your manager or supervisor if in doubt.
  • Determine the right file deletion tool or process to use for removing the data.
  • Schedule time to perform the removal process on an ongoing basis.