Spring is just around the corner (March 20), and those of us who don't like cold weather are pretty ecstatic we may soon see less of it. Spring is also traditionally a time for cleaning and renewing the spaces we live and work in, as well as leaving behind the things we don't need anymore.

Cleaning the office used to consist of clearing off dust bunnies behind your computer or changing over physical files. Now that more businesses are undergoing a digital transformation, the spring cleaning process is changing as well.

Paper and cumbersome equipment have been replaced by sleek technology, apps, and platforms. It's critical to pay attention to the tech you rely on so it doesn't let you down when you need it most. Take this opportunity to address some of the tech issues you may have been putting off. Here are some ways to give your small-business office tech a seasonal tune-up:

1. Organize your digital files.

Most of us create and add files to our desktop and cloud storage systems without giving much thought to organizing them into folders. You end up with a long list of files that may result in duplicate or unnecessary items clogging up your directory.

This is the time to clean your digital house by arranging your files into folders and eliminating the ones you no longer need. 

Don't create too many folders, though. Name them strategically. Consider automating how files and folders are organized on your computer. Try the Hazel app if you use Mac, or DropIt, if you use Windows. This will help you spend less time deleting, naming, renaming, or updating online files.  

2. Update your current software.

This task is similar to how we look at baseboards: we know they should be dusted and cleaned, but we avoid it because it seems like it'll take too much time.

However, checking to see if you have the most current versions of your software, including operating system, security, and virus protection, is critical for performance and data security.

It was discovered the Equifax breach could have been prevented had the company updated its software to patch the vulnerable spots hackers exploited. Use security software products like McAfee that remind consumers and businesses to run software updates.

Since software updates can take a lot of time, I select a day or time to do them when I'm less concerned with accessing my devices. I check my software to see what needs updating and run them during these quiet periods, typically early in the morning before I get started.

While I wait, I take the opportunity to go for a run, catch up on a book, or meditate on what I want to accomplish that day. Meanwhile, my software is getting a good spring cleaning.

3. Check your hardware. 

The next step is to run diagnostics on your hardware to make sure it's working well. Again, be patient. Defragmentation testing or operating system diagnostics take considerable time.

During these diagnostic tests, issues may arise that need to be addressed. You can check online to learn more about what these recommended fixes do or you can hire a computer specialist to handle diagnostics for you. I've found incredible computer assistance by checking sites like Yelp and Angie's List.

4. Consider new apps and services.

With technology advancing at rapid speed, it can be difficult to keep up with what's new in small-business office tech. However, it's also too easy to defer to the existing software and tech platforms we already use.

A good example is my experience working with companies that still send Word docs via email along with Excel spreadsheets. I've already moved to collaborative technology like Google Docs and Smartsheets for these tasks.

For me, it's been important to do an annual assessment to create a competitive advantage for my business. Researching and adding new tech options sets me apart from others in my field, showing clients I know how to use the most relevant technology available.

5. Beef up your security.

Another part of your spring office tech cleaning involves reviewing current passwords. With sensitive files and personal data on all my devices, the last thing I want is to have anything stolen. That's why it's important to find out what security solutions are available to bolster your online and mobile security. You may want to consider hiring a consultant to do an annual review and upgrade your security.

Part of this process also includes changing your passwords. Using a password depository tool can help you remember which ones you need to change. A good tool will also safely stores passwords in a central location, which helps since it's easy to forget new, more complex passwords.

Published on: Mar 12, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.