Declutter Your Data: Six Signs That Show You are a Digital Hoarder

Have you ever found long-forgotten things in your drawers and wondered why you did not throw them away in the first place? Hoarding, as it were, is not limited to our offline world; a glimpse into our devices can reveal a lot about hoarding: all of us store data that is not required.

The more data we keep, the more susceptible it is to risks and cyber threats in the event of a cybersecurity incident. According to the recently launched 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, almost (75%) Indian adults have shown concern about data privacy and want to do more to protect it (77%). 76% are proactively looking for better ways to protect their privacy and 9 in 10 (90%) have taken steps to protect their online activities and personal information, nearly three-quarters of whom (74%) say they have done so due to changes in lifestyles and work environment since the pandemic began.

What is digital hoarding?

As the name suggests, digital hoarding (or data hoarding) is about allowing our digital content to pile up. This can have negative consequences not only when it comes to cyber safety, but also on our wellbeing and environment.

With digital storage capacities ever increasing, it can feel like we have enough room to hold on to excessive amounts of digital content. But in doing so, we run the risk of developing an unhealthy attachment to it.

The downside of digital hoarding: Digital hoarding impacts individuals, companies, and the planet alike.

Slows down devices: The more data your hard drive must manage, the harder it must work and, therefore, could slow down your device. The more data we keep, the more susceptible it is to loss or misuse in the event of a cybersecurity incident.

Lowers productivity: The internet algorithms make it easier for us to find things, but it is not this easy to locate all our digital data. You might scroll through your phone album for a good 10 minutes trying to locate one photo you might have taken a year ago!

Induces stress: The more data you have, the more you need to control it. And if you are disorganized, chances are, you’ll lose that control fast. When situations feel unmanageable, this can induce stress which in turn negatively affects our well-being.

Six signs of data hoarding (with tips that can help you declutter)

12 icons symbolize signs of digital hoarding to watch for

Take it slow, and regain control of your digital life, one bookmark, old file, and desktop icon at a time.

1. Your inbox is full of unread emails

Unsubscribe diligently to newsletters you never read. Or, for the quickest way to a clean slate, click “delete all.” If a message is awfully important, the sender will send it again.

2. Your desktop is brimming with icons and duplicate files on one device

Your desktop should be treated just like your physical desk; recognize that clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Categorize your icons into easy-access folders, like “important”, “quick reference”, and even “toss me today” for those one-time downloads and screenshots. If it is extremely important, back it up on cloud storage.

3. You bookmark excessively

Set a bookmark limit for yourself and audit yourself monthly to reference them and make room for more.

4. Your text messages and photos go back years and do not know what all your apps are

Enable your “keep messages” features for only 30 days or one year: never forever. Purge your apps by beginning with the ones you only use on an as-needed basis such as those relating to travel. Once a month, scroll down the camera roll lane and delete what you have amassed unnecessarily.

5. You disregard the cloud

Every month, spend 10 minutes or so in your cloud storage solutions and acclimatize yourself with what is being backed up where and how it is categorized. Delete anything you do not need and readjust settings accordingly. Once a week, detox your download folder on your computer and empty your digital trash.

6. You take a long time to find anything on your devices

Make technology do the organizing for you and set up filters in your emails so that you do not miss important messages and spam goes straight to the junk folder.

Have these signs shown you that you are a digital hoarder? Stockpiling digital data can happen to anyone but what matters most is that we correct our habits and establish strong cyber hygiene by doing it.

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