Speed up your device with a spring clean

Spring cleaning isn’t just for cupboards and drawers. Check out our top tips for optimising and getting more from your phone

At some point over the next few months, someone in your household will firmly announce it’s time for a spring clean with an authoritarian tone that suggests it’s not up for discussion. Soon, you’re emptying cupboards. Tipping out drawers. Throwing stuff away. You’re always amazed at the useless bits you’ve accumulated since the last time, and suddenly you’ve got a whole lot of space.

So, why don’t we do the same with our devices? It’s rare to have a proper digital clear-out of the stuff we don’t need or use, or tidy away what we do. This spring, let’s change all that. Say goodbye to that AI app that you used once to turn yourself into a cartoon. Farewell to those six videos you took of your pocket you haven’t deleted.

Explore our handy guidance to help you spring clean your device.

Optimise your photo storage

We bet most of your storage is taken up with photos and videos. In a perfect world, you’d print them out and enjoy them IRL.The reality? They’ll sit on your phone clogging up space. But that doesn’t mean you want to delete those precious memories. So back them up to the cloud. If you have an Android device, open the Google Photo app, head to the “Free up space” section of your profile and go through the steps. If you have an iOS device you’ll find the same thing in the iCloud settings under “Photos”. Remember: triple-check your pics have been backed up properly before deleting them.

Declutter your apps

Keeping items based on whether they spark joy was how Marie Kondo tackled clutter. So why do you still have an app for an online store that closed in 2018? Check out your screen time or storage settings and order your apps by date to see when you last used them. Start from the bottom. Hit delete. Then delete. And delete. Be brutal and prioritise getting rid of apps taking up lots of storage space or with a big battery drain until you get to an app you care about. You’ll never notice those deleted apps have gone, but you will notice the extra space or even improved battery life on your device.

Get your settings in order

We won’t sugar-coat this: organising phone settings is right up there with checking to see if old batteries in your clutter drawer still work. But some device default settings can drain your battery or fill up your internal storage, so getting on top of this stuff is hugely beneficial. Check what apps are using most of your battery, and lose the ones you don’t need. Do the same with storage. Check what apps are pinging you the most notifications and switch them off. Turn off background app refresh for apps you don’t use regularly. Do the same with location settings.

Give your security a freshen-up

Telling you not to use the same password is advice so old it’s probably carved into Stonehenge or the Pyramids of Giza. But it’s easier than ever to change website passwords en masse, on both Android and iOS phones. Just go to the saved password section in Settings. Not only will your phone navigate to each site, but it’ll also take you through the entire process of changing your password. It can even help you create strong and unique alternatives and will tell you if a current password may have been compromised. This might be the most important “cleaning” you do this year.

Revoke access to your data

Remember all those times you signed up for an account somewhere using your email login or social credentials? Whether it’s an app you used once, a message board you accessed a few times to ask about bin collections or an online store you never use, protect your data by revoking lapsed access. Head to your email or social account settings, navigate to the privacy tab and find the apps and website section. Here you’ll find all the third-party services that use your authorisations. Withdraw permissions you no longer use.

Dispose of your old tech safely

If you’ve got a few old phones stuffed in drawers, you’re not alone. Research suggests that in a recent three-year period, UK users held on to 24 million old phones, worth more than £1 billion. With O2 Recycle, we’ll recycle smartphones as well as simple mobile phones, tablets, Apple AirPods and wearable devices such as smartwatches. Just remember to upload any personal data to your preferred cloud system and remove your SIM or memory card first before you post it to us. As soon as we receive your device, we’ll pay you for it (depending on model and condition).

Published: 11 March 2024