Thursday, June 19, 2014

Smartphone spring cleaning

The warm weather is finally here!  Well, actually it has been here for a little while now.  It sure seems like we skipped spring and went from the deep freeze to the middle of summer within a matter of days.  Not that I'm complaining mind you, I actually love the warmer weather and hope it lasts well into January or later next year!  But the point here is that by now, you have probably exhausted yourself with cleaning out the garage, fixing up the yard, or maybe detailing the car.  So how about showing your smartphone a little love also?

Have you been taking pictures of the neighborhood Snowmen all winter?  How about all those cute cat videos you have been taking in hopes of finding that perfect viral video?  Or maybe you went on a downloading spree after the holidays and have a bunch of apps on your phone that you haven't touched in months.  Whatever the case, here are some simple things that you can do now to improve the performance of your smartphone.

1) Update
Making sure that all updates are installed will insure that known issues are resolved and your device is working optimally.

2) SAVE!!
You've worked hard taking all those awesome selfie's, recording those kitty videos, and making so much progress on Flappy Bird all winter, so make it's about time you back all that data up!  You can do this either to your computer by copying the files to your hard drive, or you can use a an app like Dropbox or Google Drive to backup your files to the internet storage account of your choice.  Whichever method you choose, make sure you back up your photos, videos, text messages, and app data.

3) Clean up
When is the last time you looked at that calorie counter app?  Or how about that app on how to tie a knot?  Chances are you have one, two or maybe even 20 apps which you don't really use any longer.  Go through your list of installed applications on your device and uninstall any apps which you no longer use or very rarely open.  On both Android and iOS there are certain apps that you will not be able to uninstall, like Contacts or the Dialer, but anything that you download and installed is fair game.  
Also in addition to backing up your files and apps, it is also a good idea to review, condense, and remove unneeded files. This includes old downloaded attachment files, game files, music or other media files, or any other kind of random file.  Caution: a word of advice before just deleting files, make sure you back up the files to another location first.  That way if something goes wrong and re realize that you really do need that file later, you have the ability to recover that file.  If it is deleted with no backup, then you will be unable to recover it.  For more information about what files to remove and how to free up space on your phone, visit this blog post: How to Free Up Space on an iPhone or iPad

4) Boost
As devices age, so do their batteries.  This means that their batteries will hold a smaller and smaller charge over time.  To maximize the life of your battery, you can change a few settings which will optimize how much power is being drained.  Go into your settings and turn off antenna's which you are not using, like your Wifi and Bluetooth.  Also turn down the brightness settings for your display.  Another setting to check would be when data is synced.  Make sure this is done only over a Wifi connection and not over your mobile network. Transferring data over a mobile network requires more power then transferring the same data over a Wifi connection.

5) Secure
Check your security settings and verify that your Anti-virus, Anti-spyware and Anti-phishing software are all up-to-date.  This is becoming more and more important these days as viruses and other malware are becoming more of a threat to mobile devices every day.  Another good thing to do is to review the access each app is granted.  If an app looks like it might be granted too high of a permission, try removing that permission level and reassigning to a lower level.  Also along the same lines, revoke access to any side loaded apps as these could contain code that might contain malware itself.  One last thing to double check in terms of security is to change your passwords and passcodes which secure your phone.  This will prevent others from accessing your phone and it will also prevent applications from accessing the phone in the background when yo weren't expected it.

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