As I wrote in Keep Calm and Log On, it is way more important to update the software on your phones, computers, and other devices than it is to run antivirus software. For a longer explanation of why “software ships broken” and how this makes it vitally important to keep updating your system and apps, pick up a copy of the book.
But much of the time, most of us have devices that are far too full of pictures and videos of our pets and kids to have any space for new stuff. That’s totally normal! However, installing system updates is a life-or-death matter for your devices’ security. Tidying up your files and moving them off your device from time to time is like making sure you have a clear path to the door or window in the event of a fire.
Here are a couple of ways to make more space on your devices.
The easiest way to get files off your computer may be to move them over to an external drive you can plug in to your machine. Do a search for reviews of “portable external hard drive” to compare what’s out there. In a pinch, you can even use a smaller USB “thumb drive,” though think hard about how it easy it is for those to get lost.
Cloud storage is disk space somewhere else on the internet, run by a company that may give you a free or paid subscription to use their services. One advantage of cloud storage is that it can keep all of your stuff ready in case your device crashes and you need to get a new one. You can even set it up so that photos, videos, and other files upload to the cloud regularly, making sure that you’re making more space as you go along.
Here are some cloud backup resources you may already have access to:
It’s important to know, though, that some tech industry folks say “When you hear ‘the cloud,’ replace it with ‘other people’s computers.’” That’s basically what you’re doing when you use cloud services: putting your files on a whole bunch of computers owned by Google, Dropbox, Amazon, etc.
Now, this doesn’t mean that anyone and everyone will be looking at your files. You can keep them private. And companies like Google and Dropbox may have better security than your own computer—though even your cloud accounts are only as safe as the password you choose.
But for sensitive or private files, you may decide you don’t want to store them on “other people’s computers;” they might be better to keep on an external drive. Or, if you need to store or share a very important document like your passport or tax returns, check out the more secure online storage options in these articles.