It’s spring cleaning season when milder weather encourages us to open up, air out and clean up the house following a long winter. For businesses, it is also a good idea to declutter and freshen up your digital house with some basic IT maintenance chores.

Organizations often get so caught up in day-to-day operational requirements that they prioritize IT maintenance right out of the picture. However, spending a little time to organize and protect your key technology assets can ensure that computers are running optimally while improving security, performance and productivity. Equally important, it reduces the risk of more serious problems down the line.

Here are a few tips to help guide your digital spring cleaning efforts.

Keep clean machines. Ensure all software is up-to-date to reduce the risk of infection from malware. Promptly install patches for all application and operating systems — remember that the recent Equifax breach was the result of a failure to apply a two-month-old patch for a web application. In particular, make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date with the most recent virus definitions.

Declutter your apps. According to one study, businesses in the U.S. and U.K. waste roughly $34 billion a year on unused or rarely used software solutions. Uninstall programs you don’t use. These useless apps drain resources — even old, forgotten programs may be actively trying to update system files. In addition to improving performance, uninstalling eliminates potential vulnerabilities in these older programs that hackers know and exploit.

Clean up your data. Storing and managing data that has questionable or no value wastes money and resources, slows decision-making and increases risks related to security, regulatory compliance and e-discovery. Consider installing data governance software that imposes a quality control discipline on the processes for assessing, managing and maintaining data. It will clarify who should have access to data and for what purpose, and ensure that compliance requirements are being met.

Lock down your data. You should use strong, industry-standard cryptography — ideally AES-256-bit encryption, but at minimum AES-128 — and make sure the cryptographic keys are properly managed. Review the encryption controls of all devices including PCs, tablets, smartphones and servers. If you haven’t already, implement multifactor authentication, identity-based network access and a next-generation firewall to boost security.

Clean your inbox. It’s been estimated that the typical office worker sends and receives more than 100 emails per day, has thousands of items in his or her inbox and spends roughly 25 percent of the workweek reading, deleting, sorting, searching and sending emails. Delete or archive as much email as possible. Because email is the chief mechanism for phishing scams, this is also a good time to have everyone in the company update passwords, with requirements that make them hard to crack.

Literally clean house. Workstations, keyboards, printers and other gear attract dust. Use compressed air to clean them, and wipe down monitor screens and other surfaces with soft, lint-free cloths. Use the head-cleaning utility in printer software to ensure nozzles are delivering ink properly.

For comprehensive IT maintenance on a regular basis, consider using our SSD Assurance program. It will give you the peace of mind that your IT environment is being monitored, maintained and supported by experienced engineers and technicians who understand your business needs.