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new year's resolutionsAs the year comes to close and a new one begins, it’s a good time to make fresh goals or carry out tasks we have put off for quite some time.

The following list is my personal recommendations for tech related tasks—from the vitally important, backing up your computer hard drive, to the most difficult challenge of spending a whole day without getting on your computer. My list includes links to MUO articles that provide ideas for how to carry out specified tasks, but you’re also encouraged to of course research other ideas and solutions. I also welcome your recommendations for tech related tasks I didn’t include in this list.

1. Backup Your Computer Hard Drive

Technicians who repair computers say that, still less than half of computer users back up their hard drive. While with most newer computers, hard drive failures may occur less, it only takes one for it to happen and loss of all your data.

Justine’s article on Redo Backup Back Up Your Entire Hard Drive With Redo Backup & Recovery Back Up Your Entire Hard Drive With Redo Backup & Recovery Easily make a copy of your entire hard drive . Don't just back up your data: back up all of your software, your settings and everything else by cloning your entire hard drive. Redo Backup... Read More is a good one for PC users, while the default Time Machine and Super Duper The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] As the developer here at MakeUseOf and as someone who earns their entire income from working online, it's fair to say my computer and data are quite important. They’re set up perfectly for productivity with... Read More are good programs for Mac users. A full backup of your system requires an external hard drive that is larger than the memory of your computer’s internal drive. Create an automatic system so backups can be done and checked on a regular basis.

new year's resolutions

2. Backup Media Files

If you are storing photos, music, and other important media files on your computer, these files should be a part of your backup system, but I suggest you also keep a special off-site backup of photo files that are most important to you. Precious photo files can’t be replaced, so copying them to an external drive, such as a thumb drive, can be serious insurance against loss of most your important photos.

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If you have enough room on a Google, Dropbox,or any other cloud storage account, backing up precious media files to a dedicated storage is another data recovery solution. It’s simply a matter of dragging and copying important files to another location.

3. Change Passwords

Change the password How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget Read More of your financial and administrative accounts, your router, and other sensitive accounts or pieces of hardware 3 Default Passwords You Must Change & Why 3 Default Passwords You Must Change & Why Passwords are inconvenient, but necessary. Many people tend to avoid passwords wherever possible and are happy to use default settings or the same password for all their accounts. This behavior can make your data and... Read More . I know it’s a mental challenge to memorize new passwords, but for the accounts you access on a regular basis, it’s well worth the effort.

new year resolutions

4. Clean Out The Hard Drive

Take an hour and clean out your computer’s hard drive of files and applications you no longer use. Especially look for those files How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner How to Visualize Disk Usage in Windows with Scanner Read More that are over a few hundred megabytes Memory Sizes Explained - Gigabytes, Terabytes & Petabytes in Layman's Terms Memory Sizes Explained - Gigabytes, Terabytes & Petabytes in Layman's Terms It’s easy to see that 500 gigabytes is more than 100 gigabytes. It’s also easy to see that 1 terabyte is larger than 1 gigabyte and that is larger than 1 megabyte. But these are... Read More and determine if you still need them.

5. Create a Photo Book

After you have backed up all your photos, create a book How To Create A Photo Book With Photoshop Elements How To Create A Photo Book With Photoshop Elements Since the invention of the camera, people have sought ways to preserve memories in the best way possible. First, we merely had the daguerreotypes, and then we decided framing better-quality photos might be a good... Read More of the year’s most memorable photos. Sure, it’s great to have your photos stored on Facebook or Flickr.com, but a printed book is still more tangible and attractive for viewing your precious memories.

new year resolutions
Even if you have lots of low-resolution photos,  How To Create An iPhoto Book Using Low-Res Phone Images How To Create An iPhoto Book Using Low-Res Phone Images Read More on your smart phone for instance, they can still be published in a photo book. In the U.S., stores like Wallgreens and Costco have fairly easy online ways to layout and order printed photo books.

6. Budget Your Money

If you’re not doing a good job of keeping track of your finances and budgeting your money, sign up for a free Mint.com account How To Use Mint To Manage Your Budget & Spendings Online How To Use Mint To Manage Your Budget & Spendings Online Read More . Allowing Mint to download your financial accounts is one of the best ways to monitor and budget your spending. It’s like the old envelope budgeting system, but it’s all digital.

new year resolutions

7. Cook New Meals

If your typical dinner meals are becoming a little stale, subscribe to one or more online recipe sites 7 Good Online Cooking Guides For The Beginner Cook 7 Good Online Cooking Guides For The Beginner Cook Read More , and commit to cooking at least 5-10 new dinners next year.

new year

I use the Paprika iPhone app to download recipes and keep track of favorite meals.

8. Cancel Subscriptions

Go through your email client and unsubscribe to newsletters Mass Unsubscribe From Nuisance Email Newsletters With Unsubscribr Mass Unsubscribe From Nuisance Email Newsletters With Unsubscribr Do you get more email than you know what to do with? You're not alone. I get multiple, daily emails that I routinely delete without so much as opening. Or, at least, I did, until... Read More and social website notifications Mass Unsubscribe From Nuisance Email Newsletters With Unsubscribr Mass Unsubscribe From Nuisance Email Newsletters With Unsubscribr Do you get more email than you know what to do with? You're not alone. I get multiple, daily emails that I routinely delete without so much as opening. Or, at least, I did, until... Read More you haven’t been responding to. Reducing email clutter can reduce the amount of time you spend reading and managing emails, and thus help you make time for other things.

9. Automate Computer Tasks

If you haven’t been using automation workflows and keyboard shortcuts, you’re probably not being as productive on your computer as you could be. There are ways to automate tasks on a PC Schedule Your Applications For Worry-Free Productivity Schedule Your Applications For Worry-Free Productivity How many people really make good use of scheduling tasks? I used to be obsessed with finding different PC automation applications that could time the launch of all of my critical applications throughout the day,... Read More , Mac 10 Automator Hacks You Can Create & Use Today [Mac] 10 Automator Hacks You Can Create & Use Today [Mac] Read More , and Ubuntu Cuttlefish: Set Up Actions And Reactions To Automate Ubuntu Cuttlefish: Set Up Actions And Reactions To Automate Ubuntu Automate things you're currently doing yourself. Cuttlefish is a new Ubuntu program that allows you to set simple rules that can save you time. It's kind of like ifttt, which automates your web apps, but... Read More without knowing a single word of code. There are even ways to automate online tasks, using tools like ifttt 10 Great ifttt Recipes To Automate Your Web Life 10 Great ifttt Recipes To Automate Your Web Life We’ve already introduced you to ifttt in a previous post and there have been several improvements made and new channels added to the web application since then. Automation and synchronization are two points that have... Read More . Make a goal of creating a few automation hacks. Once you do a few, you’ll no doubt want to do more.

new year's resolutions

 

10. No Computer Day

Choose one day a week in which you avoid getting on the computer. As much as the computer is a part of our daily routine, it can cause us to become detached from other important responsibilities and social interactions. I try to avoid getting my computer either on Saturday or Sunday, unless it’s related to work.

Well, these are my ten recommendations. What are yours? Start today and make a list of the tech related tasks you need to get done.

Image Credit: 3d Robot Image Via Shutterstock

  1. fainom enous
    January 21, 2013 at 1:29 am

    deffinately backing up

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Fainom, it will give you some peace of mind to know if your computer crashes, you won't lose all your stuff.

  2. TITUS ADAMS
    January 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

    how do i register for this site

    • Tina Sieber
      January 4, 2013 at 10:02 am

      For MakeUseOf? You can log in using one of your social networking accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Just click the icon for your desired login option in the top right, log into the respective account, and confirm the login. This will automatically register you with MakeUseOf.

  3. Jim Spencer
    January 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Almost missed out on this little gem of an article. Hurrah for a time-out from the computer. It would almost be like fasting, but healthy for the mind and soul.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks, Jim, for your feedback. I think that day without a computer resonates with lots of readers.

  4. Anonymous
    January 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    it is really lovely... i shall also wish a day to avoid my lap... thanx a lot frd

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      Jai, I probably should do another article of tips on how to go a day without using the computer. Seems like this topic resonates with many readers. Thanks for your feedback.

  5. Mark Reid
    January 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks Bakari for making backing up no. 1 on your list...
    I had bought a 1TB backup drive recently, but was slack and haven't backed up my macbook pro, even though I have been using it for 13 months!
    As I type, I am now backing up for the 1st time!
    Slow learner eh! Your article spurred me into action....
    Happy New Year

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Yep Mark, once you get that backup task done, you will feel a little more insured. Be sure to periodically check the backup to see if it's working. It's not a hundred percent, but it's better than not having it.

  6. Keith Swartz
    December 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    #11) Subscribe to MakeUseOf.com!! Happy New Year!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Awww, Keith, thanks for that. Glad you like the site. Thanks for being a reader.

  7. Anonymous
    December 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I do some, will do more.
    Thanks

  8. Peter St.Wecker
    December 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Great list!

    For Number 8, you might want to use this link instead: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/clear-inbox-quickly-unsubscribe-multiple-newsletters-tools/

    Seems more complete, and notes that Unsubscrir is now Swizzle.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Awww, yes Peter, thanks for reminding me. Yep, Unroll.me and other services are good alternatives.

  9. pixelriffic
    December 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I'm a little surprised this was overlooked for number 1, but I guess a lot of folks still don't know that Windows 8 adds folder history backup. This is functionally the same thing as Apple's Time Machine.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 1, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Pixelriffi, thanks for the tip. I'm not a Windows user, so this is good to know.

  10. Anonymous
    December 30, 2012 at 11:55 am

    A no computer day would kill me right away! o.O Thank you very much for this article, that are very good recommendations. ^^

  11. Marina
    December 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Open a Dropbox account at http://www.dropbox.com and save all your files there before deleting them off your drives.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Marina. In my case, Dropbox has literally become my Documents folder for all my computers. It of course gets backed up in Time Machine on a daily basis.

      • dragonmouth
        January 3, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        While cloud storage is convenient, cool and easy it is NOT a good idea from a security standpoint. According to latest reports from Sophos and Kaspersky, data stored in the cloud is, with increasing frequency, a target of hyper jacking. A bad guy breaks into a cloud server and instantly has access to private data of thousands of people.

        The data can also be subject to hijacking for ransom, where the bad guy changes the password on the data to one of his own and then demands a payment for the release of that data.

        Then there is the Instagram/Facebook debacle where Facebook announced that any images stored on Instagram servers is now their property to with as they please without acknowledging or remunerating the original owners. They supposedly reversed that policy but who really knows? Only time will tell.

  12. Nikhil Chandak
    December 30, 2012 at 5:50 am

    thnx for the post !

  13. Bakari Chavanu
    December 30, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Seems like there ought to be a national holiday devoted to everyone getting off the computer. lol Thanks for your feedback.

    • Sid Cork
      December 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Oh goodee, the usual chestnut (dyswidt?) about changing passwords adding some extra level of security. Do you also change your door locks on a regular basis? Of course not, you buy a secure lock and guard the key! Changing the lock provides no extra security at all. Changing passwords simply tempts people to use less secure versions so they can remember them or to write them down.

      • Bakari Chavanu
        January 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        Sid, in fact, yes I dod change the pad locks on your door every year. JK. Your point is well taken, but I find that when you use a password on a regular basis, you quickly start remembering.

    • Sid Cork
      December 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Sorry, my name didn't appear on my comment for some reason.

      • randall polk
        December 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        Yes it did bro ......just put a cork in it , ok ? Just kidding ...happy new year

  14. grandfred
    December 30, 2012 at 12:32 am

    no computer ay is a good idea :)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 30, 2012 at 4:41 am

      Thanks for the feedback, grandfred.

  15. Ryszard Grodzicki
    December 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I definitely need to start cooking at all, so these recipe sites will help. I was back-uping my music library through last few days, but I didn't touch any photos as there's just too big mess so yeah, it would be great if I'd take care of it throughout upcoming year :)
    I wanted to automate some tasks when I read about it here, but I couldn't think of any things I do that were worth bothering to automate xD

  16. Bumferry Hogart
    December 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I shall be attempting all of the above but I will start with my own choice of "Clearing out bookmarks!" Over the past year I have saved what seems to be half the internet into different folders and links. Need to cull the herd as they say and keep things nice and neat.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 30, 2012 at 4:37 am

      That's a good to-do, Bumferry. I should have added that one to the list. My Safari books run into the thousands. Many of witch I'll never use again.

    • DjPete
      January 4, 2013 at 9:45 am

      You could join Del.i.cious and save all your bookmarks there. Also stumble upon to broaden your horizon out of your usual browsing experience.

  17. Ashwin Ramesh
    December 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Amazing list. Thanks for the article, Bakari. Also loved the 2nd pic - Time Machine :)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 30, 2012 at 4:36 am

      Ashwin, you're welcome. Always great to get your feedback.

  18. Mac Witty
    December 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Cancel Subscriptions and "direct to trash" for the one one can not cancel or when the sender do not cancel. Should have done it earlier but you reminded me.

    Make a better photo archive.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 30, 2012 at 4:35 am

      Yep, thanks for the feedback, Mac. Always great to have you as a reader.

      • Yogesh Chaugule
        January 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        We can have unroll.me to manage our subscriptions, but at starting we should be more concern that no important emails are going into unroll.me label, and monitor unroll.me daily basis for few days to avoid such situation.

  19. Anonymous
    December 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks fo

  20. Caroline West
    December 29, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Great list!

    * I shall be updating/changing all my passwords with my pw manager.
    * My external Hard Drive will be getting a complete overhaul (getting rid of stuff I no longer need).
    * Budgeting - good idea; maybe I'll set up with Mint by the end of this year and keep an eye on my budget fresh for 2013 (I hope my Win phone can use the service)
    * I have a new laptop so the hard drive will be backed up this time

    Lastly..... I don't know about a pc free day - I doubt that I could manage it. But I shall most certainly give it a try!!

    Thanks again. And a "Happy New Year" to all MUO members & staff :-)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 30, 2012 at 4:33 am

      Caroline, thanks for your feedback. Glad you find this list useful.

    • Caroline West
      January 5, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Designating some time like 1hr to do some of the tasks on the list has helped. Can you believe I am still working on the list! Nearly there.

      It feels like a 2013 'Computer' purge! :-D

      I'm thankful for the link on how doing a back up. My ext hard-drive has been 'purged' now, I just hope the article and program will be compatible with Win8.

      Sorting out my e mail's inbox was good. But regarding my p/w's.... It has to all be done manually :-( not looking forward to that hence why using the 1hr time limit!

      Setting up a budget with Mint.com was not possible as I live in the UK. But I have a brilliant open-source budgeting software which is easy to set up and free with no restrictions on how many account's and it's open-source too https://sites.google.com/site/dsbudgethome/ I've used it before and I can recommend it.

      Using keyboard shortcuts is something I've never done only because I thought that I couldn't learn it, but I'm giving it a try now. Being alien to this I shall refer to the link.

      So much to do! But worth it.

      Thanks too for the Photo Book link. It's been one of those 'meaning to do' tasks since last year. There is something very special about having digital photo's in print.

      2 additions which I'd like to add to the list is to get rid of unused software, which only hogs and slows down the computer. And to get a good quality system optimizer and cleaner - even a couple of them for a thorough job.

      Now onto my 1hr list work! :-)

  21. Paulo Delgado
    December 29, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I will go with no computer day.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 30, 2012 at 4:33 am

      Cool, Paulo. You'll definitely like it.

      • randall polk
        December 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm

        I like the once a week idea , but I was thinking that might be a good precursor to the ultimate test ......maybe once or twice a year , everyone should just throw their computer into the nearest dumpster , or toss it off the highest building you can find , or , if you live by the ocean , toss it in there ! Then we can really test our social skills and interaction capabilities as we run around freaking out because we need a new computer . But I think we should alternate ....let's not all do this on the same day !

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