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3 simple tech resolutions you can actually keep

If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution, you know how difficult it can be to keep. But just because 2020 has been a mess, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use tech to go into the new year.

One way to be more productive and make life easier is by adding apps to your mobile devices. You can find apps that do pretty much anything you can think of, from entertainment to work and so much more. Tap or click here for 15 great apps for iOS and Android.

Start 2021 the right way by getting all your devices in order. It is time for a technological make-over, so we’re going to give you three tech resolutions that you can actually keep.

Wipe your old devices

Christmas is a popular time for receiving new gadgets and electronics, and who doesn’t want to ring in the new year with brand-new technology. But before you get stuck in with your new device, you should plan what you will do with your old ones.

RELATED: Biggest mistake people make when getting rid of old computers and phones

The best starting point is to sign yourself out of any profiles or services on the old device. Remove or transfer any photos to cloud storage, or make sure that you have backups.

To wipe mobile phones and other portable tech devices, it’s usually easy to reset them to their factory settings. By doing this, all personal information and data will be deleted from it, making the device safe for yourself and others.

For computer hard drives, a simple format should be enough but look at open-source software to do a professional deep clean on the drive. Tap or click here for our step-by-step guide to permanently erasing sensitive data.

Once you are confident that the device has been wiped, you should consider donating it or sending it to a recycling facility.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a handy list of where you can donate your electronics. You’ll find technology companies that will dispose of devices on your behalf or recycling facilities in your state or community.

Update all your tech

Earth gets a clean slate around the sun, so why not do the same for your technology? Ring in the new year by updating operating systems, drivers or software versions for all your devices.

Having the latest drivers and software versions installed will make sure that you get the latest features and updates — as well as patch potential security issues. And while you are at it, why not set up your devices to update automatically?

RELATED: U.S. government cyberattack: It’s bad and it’s getting worse

For Windows PCs:

  • Open Settings and click Update & Security
  • Click Check for Updates
  • If any updates are available, Windows will automatically start downloading them

For Mac:

  • Click on the Apple icon in the top left-hand corner of your screen
  • Click on System Preferences
  • If there is an update available, a notification icon will be displayed over the System Preferences icon
  • Click on Software Update
  • If there is an update available, click on Upgrade Now

To make things easier in the future, check the box so that your Mac automatically keeps your system updated.

For iOS devices:

  • Open Settings and tap General
  • Tap Software Update
  • If there is an update available, tap Download and Install Now
  • To set up automatic downloads, tap Automatic Updates and slide the toggle next to Download iOS Updates and Install iOS Updates to on

To update your apps on iOS:

  • Open the App Store
  • Tap on your photo in the top right-hand corner
  • If there are any app updates available, tap Update All

To check for updates on your Android phone:

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap About Phone and then tap Check for Updates
  • If an update is available, tap Update

Adjust your notifications

It’s been a crazy year, so why not go into 2021 with fewer distractions? There is really no need for email to be buzzing and displayed on your computer, mobile phone and smartwatch. Turn off notifications for at least two of those devices or set them to silent.

Do the same for Facebook Groups if you are a member of several pages. Snooze some of the notifications for 30 days or choose not to be alerted when a post has been made. You will still see when there is something new, but you won’t get an intrusive alert.

RELATED: Google, Microsoft spam smartphones with notifications – how to manage yours

Take some time out of your day to review all the notification options on your iOS device. By tapping Settings > Notifications, you can adjust how individual apps notify you and display alerts.

For Android phones, you can change notification settings by tapping Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications.

Bonus: Use a VPN

Start the year safe and secure by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your entire internet connection to protect all your communications, even over unsecured networks. It stops your internet provider from tracking you — something your browser’s incognito mode can’t do — and lets you unblock websites and bypass filters.

We recommend our sponsor, ExpressVPN. It’s super easy to set up on smartphones, tablets or home computers.

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