Clear Out the Cobwebs: Spring Cleaning for your Mobile Device

As the weather turns warmer, many people start looking around at their home improvement projects and “spruce-ups” that they’ve put off through the winter.

While no one adores the chores associated with cleaning out the gutters or washing all the windows, there is a real sense of accomplishment when it’s over. When we’re through, it might even feel like we’re getting the same fresh start that Mother Nature is bringing to our surroundings.

There is one vitally important spring cleaning chore that often gets overlooked, but it’s one that doesn’t have to be painful. Even better, there are no ladders or garden hoses required! Cleaning out your mobile device can be simple and quick, and even better, there’s no heavy lifting involved.

1. Old Apps and Permissions 

The first step to a thorough device cleaning is to look at the apps you’ve downloaded. How many of them do you really use? More importantly, what permissions does each app have? If these apps can access your contacts list, your microphone, your photographs, and videos, or your location, think twice about whether or not they’re really that useful. If they are important, you can still change the settings to revoke these permissions.

2. Stored Photos and Videos 

If you own a mobile device, you carry a camera around with you at all times. The convenience and the cost-effectiveness mean we can afford to snap a picture of anything that suits our fancy. The flip side, though, is that not only can our phones’ storage be clogged with pictures we may not really need, but any app that is permitted to access your stored photos can also “see” them. Set up a free account with a cloud-based service to transfer all those files to an outside server, then get them out of your pocket!

3. Check your Updates 

Just like the software that powers your laptop or desktop computer, your phone or tablet has software running the show. If you’re not updating your software when the developer releases new versions, not only is your phone not fully protected, you might actually be missing out on some great features. Check your phone’s settings for any software updates, then go to your stored apps and see if those have new versions as well.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: What Can a Thief Do With Your Wallet?

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