Just like seasonal tasks you have in the house or around the yard, there are things you can do with technology on a seasonal basis to ensure you have the best experience with all of your technology devices and services.
Technology tasks don’t fall into “Winter-Spring-Summer-Fall” patterns like some cleaning tasks, so you can do them on any cycle or pattern you would like. Here are the main areas we would suggest checking at least once per year, to make sure your whole technology package (hardware, software, etc.) is operating as it should, giving you the best experience!
Check the Internet plan you subscribe to from your Internet provider and compare with your actual need/usage to make sure you have the right plan. Your provider may even have new plans or features available that could better suit your needs (like TCC Total Wi-Fi!). Take an inventory of all users and devices in your home and what everyone does with the Internet. Share that information with your provider to come up with a plan that would work the best for your needs. Even if you don’t *think* you use the Internet any more, Internet content creators are always making graphics and files larger to look better on our high-definition screens, so even viewing the “same” web pages can require more bandwidth than it used to.
Check your Wi-Fi router, devices, and apps/programs for software updates. If you own your router, you need to make sure it has the latest firmware to keep it operating properly and securely. In addition, check your devices and apps/programs to make sure they are doing their updates. Accept/run any available updates for your devices, apps, and programs. This is the best way to keep everything running properly and make sure they are protected from hacking, intrusion, and other threats. In addition to ‘software’ updates, you may need to do a ‘hardware’ update if your router or other devices are getting old. Old devices may not perform well and often do not communicate well with newer devices. This is especially true with older routers.
**IF you would rather NOT have to worry about checking your router for firmware updates and handling that, you CAN contact us and get a router from TCC. It’s just $2 more than a basic modem and then WE handle all of the firmware upgrades for you. PLUS, by using our Calix GigaSpire router, you not only get a great router with awesome performance, but you can download an app to manage it yourself. The app is called TCC Total Wi-Fi.
Check Wi-Fi signal to any devices — are they all working well? Are any in need of troubleshooting? Large things like smart TVs and game systems, that are generally not moved, can be connected directly to the router via ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. This will clear up any connection/speed issues with that device and it will be one less device competing with the others for Wi-Fi. Are there any devices still connected to your Wi-Fi that you are no longer using? Disconnect it from your Wi-Fi, turn the device off, and even unplug it. Devices not in use can still be a burden on your Wi-Fi and your electric bill.
**Again, with our TCC Total Wi-Fi app, you have some tools at your fingertips for identifying and correcting some common Wi-Fi issues. Plus, by having our router, our TCC technicians can view and assist with some router/Wi-Fi settings and configurations.
Go through devices and remove/uninstall any programs or apps that are not being used. They can be mining your data for advertising and it could be a security risk as unwanted and unused programs may not be getting updated. Plus, unused programs are taking up space on your device and cluttering your screens.
Change your passwords! It is recommended to change passwords anywhere from every 90 days to every year, depending on the nature of the password and its risk related to your personal or financial information. Another recommendation is to NOT use the same password for multiple sites/accounts. If a hacker gets one password, they will likely try it on a number of ‘common’ websites and accounts to see if it works in other places too.
The best passwords are long and random. Generally, the longer the password (regardless of character makeup), the more secure. Most systems attack passwords using random combinations, so the longer the password, the more combinations are possible and thus the harder to crack. Instead of a word with numbers, you can also use a “pass phrase” which is a short phrase or sentence which is easy for you to remember, but by its nature makes your password long and secure. An example of a pass phrase would be “ilovemy2grandkids.”
Cords & Chargers
Another cleaning project for your technology is to locate all of the charging cords and blocks in your home, find out which ones work for the devices you currently use, and get rid of the ones that don’t work or are not needed. It is not advised to use a charging cord and block not meant for a device (e.g. using a smart phone charging cord and block for a tablet or laptop). You want the block and cord to be up to the task of supplying the device with the right amount of electricity for safe charging. When you have located all of the proper cords and charging blocks, inspect them for any sign of wear or damage. Cords and blocks with any sign of cracks, wear, or damage should be discarded or recycled.
One last area to consider is your devices. Most households have a variety of tech devices connected to the Internet, including laptops, smart TV’s, streaming sticks or boxes, tablets, phones, game systems, smart speakers (“Alexa”), and smart home devices. All of these connected devices have operating software, driver files, circuits, processors, memory and other “parts.” They also have specific capabilities AND limitations regarding how they communicate. Over time, their processors, memory, software and communication protocols get outdated compared with your router and Internet content. They start becoming obsolete and like an anchor in your network. An older laptop that “takes forever to load a web page” is more likely the fault of the laptop than your Internet. A streaming stick you’ve used for five years “without problems” is not likely to last forever. Problems will arise in the form of glitches, restarts, etc. And older or problem devices staying connected to your network affect other devices as your router has to spend longer with them to send/receive data.
Can you think of any other technology seasonal projects we missed? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to subscribe to our blog over to the right, so you get emails every time a new blog article is uploaded!