Beat the January Blues by Updating and Upgrading Your Digital Technology

A new year is always a welcome opportunity to start fresh, clean up, clean out, update, and upgrade. I’ve always believed that if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. Staying still in one spot really means that the people and the world around you are passing you by.

This philosophy also relates to the management of your digital life. Old technology isn’t necessarily outdated, but it may need updating, while obsolete technology certainly needs upgrading.

Old PCs: Thanks to “the cloud,” even an old Windows XP machine can have a new lease on life. Reinstalling the operating system and using it for cloud-based applications like mail and Google docs can allow a relic to function better than its old self ever did.

New PCs: I have a Windows 7 desktop that drags a bit, does weird things, and makes the occasional funny noise. It’s about two years old and still in relatively good shape, despite the random glitches. It’s just a matter of time, however, until it degrades to a point where it either stops working or becomes too frustrating for me to deal with. So, while that one is still functioning, I bought another desktop for about $500 that’s better, faster, and has more of everything I want in a work machine. I’ll load the new computer up with all my software and when it’s 100% ready, I’ll make the switch. Meanwhile, the old computer will still work well as a media center.

Old mobiles: If you are still using a feature phone, that’s fine. For many people, all a phone needs to do is be a phone. But make sure to at least consult the manufacturer’s website, because their may be upgrades to your phone’s operating system that can improve its functionality or security.

New mobiles: The technology in smartphones today is just astounding. Whether you use an iPhone, Android, or even a BlackBerry, having the world at your fingertips makes getting things done far more efficient. Besides the obvious benefits of communications, multimedia, and online shopping, a smartphone is a great way to save money. Just the other day, I went to a store to make a purchase and was floored by the cost of an item that I usually buy every two or three years. I immediately went online via my smartphone and found what I was looking for, for 90% less than what I had almost paid. Frankly, I don’t know how brick-and-mortars survive when consumers have this kind of access to price comparisons.

Modem: Your ISP-issued modem starts dying right out of the box. It’s just a matter of time until it starts acting up. If you’ve had it for over a year, take it to your local service center and get a new one.

Router: If you are on a wireless G and all your devices can talk to N, upgrade to N. This process is not for the faint of heart. Depending on the sophistication of your network, this could be a bear. However, by taking screenshots of all your settings and starting fresh, you will have a better Internet experience. If you are happy with the current brand you have, simply upgrade to the newest model for a smoother transition.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

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