Good Smartphone Health

Advice from DC The Computer Guy

Did you know that according to research 81% of Americans own a smartphone, and the majority use it as their primary means of accessing the Internet for personal use.

Smartphone blackberry image

So much about smartphones has changed so quickly.

My first smartphone was a BlackBerry 5810 and I loved it!  It was way ahead of the competition and seemed easy to use. For me, this device was a game-changer. It allowed me to keep up on email, manage my calendar, store my contacts, and make calls – in essence helping me to manage and grow my business while on the run.

Fast forward to today, and I’m using the latest iPhone and most likely will upgrade once the next one is launched.

Smartphone Popularity is Growing

Today, a large percentage of people choose to use a smartphone over a computer or laptop.

We use them for both work and recreation. In our personal lives, we use smartphones to take pictures, stay connected to family and friends, check the weather, manage bank accounts, and a laundry list of other uses.

In business, they are becoming vital to day-to-day operations! More and more businesses are finding value in arming their employees with smartphones. Here at CLARK, we are spending more of our time helping clients with their smartphones. The thing that people often don’t realize is that your smartphone is a computer – a computer that you carry in your pocket or purse and have a tendency to drop. Along with the many positives that come with smartphones, they also come with issues. It’s unavoidable. Business managers now need to worry about maintaining smartphones to help keep employees productive and find ways to ensure they are not used to illegally access or steal business and client information.

We as a collective are constantly using our smartphones. We depend on them, and they are becoming an ever-increasing part of our technical landscape, personally and professionally! With these devices being this important, I want to offer some advice on keeping your smartphone working and secure.

Smartphone iPhone image

smartphone lock-it imageLock It!

I cringe whenever a client tells me they don’t lock their phone.

Even if you only use your phone to make calls, every smartphone should be set to automatically lock and require a minimum of a 6 DIGIT PIN code along with biometrics to unlock it. And no matter how clever you think it is 123456, 654321, 135246, and 246135 are NOT secure! There is no security as simple and effective as a strong PIN to keeping your smartphone safe.

This is incredibly important on the personal side so that a lost or stolen phone doesn’t become identity theft or worse. On the business side, it is a critical step to maintaining the integrity of your data and network. Here at CLARK, we have policies in place that govern technology and one of them requires a lock on all devices. No exceptions!

Keep It Updated

smartphone updates imageThis is now far more important than most people think.

Yes, there was a time when I advised clients NOT to update their computers or smartphones immediately after an update was released. I would suggest that they wait for everyone else to work out the bugs or issues that may come with the update. A few years ago that was sound advice, but not anymore.

Today, I wouldn’t even consider advising people to wait on updates. In the current digital landscape, threats are omnipresent and ongoing. New vulnerabilities are being discovered daily – if not more often – and manufacturers like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are constantly writing updates to their code to fix these vulnerabilities. In order to ensure that our smartphones aren’t vulnerable to these threats, we need to apply the updates as soon as we receive them.

Problems with updates are rare, and my advice is staying safe from a known threat is better than dealing with a potential issue.

smartphone viruses imageSmartphones Get Viruses Too!

There is a common – and mistaken – belief that smartphones are safer than a computer or laptop when it comes to viruses.

This is categorically untrue. Adware. Spyware. Ransomware. Phishing. Worms – smartphones are vulnerable to all of them! In addition to the more malicious aspects of the viruses, they slow overall performance, reduce battery life, and increase data usage.

As I mentioned earlier, your smartphone is a computer and because we use them for business and personal finances, cybercriminals are targeting them more often. As the attacks grow more numerous and sophisticated, you are vulnerable. If you don’t currently have antivirus on your smartphone, download and install one today.

Back It Up

Smartphones typically contain personal and business information that may not exist anywhere else. None of us want to lose our pictures, text history, or information stored in the numerous applications that we download and use. I hate having to tell a client that they’ve lost their pictures or anything else important to them.

The thing is that our smartphones come with the tools to back everything up. All we have to do is take the time to do it. If you don’t know how just Google the phrase backup iPhone or backup Android and instructions will be right up at the top.

Keep the battery Healthy

Lots of people – most actually – charge their smartphone while in the car or while they’re sleeping. The problem here is that once the charge hits 100%, they are still leaving it connected to the charger. This is extremely harmful! Continually charging a charged battery puts it in a state of stress that will wear your battery down and reduce its lifespan. Also, letting it drain to 0% is bad for the battery’s lifespan.

It’s awful when your battery drains quickly and this is one of the top complaints we hear when it comes to smartphones.

So what do you do?

Try not to charge your battery until it gets to 30%, and then stop charging it when it reaches 80%. There are a lot of persistent untruths about batteries, such as the need to occasional draining and fully charge it – this is horrible for the life expectancy of current batteries. Ignore any outdated information, because of the way the batteries handle voltage in the cells, the strongest cycle life per charge capacity is between 30%-80%.

To put it simply, don’t charge your smartphone overnight and if you are charging while driving, unplug it when it reaches 80%.

smartphone battery life image

smartphone image

Keep Personal Phones Out of the Workforce

As a business manager or owner, if you allow employees to use their personal devices for work, especially smartphones, you’re opening yourself to a great deal of risk! Yes, when you’re a small business on a tight budget, it is attractive to allow employees to provide their own smartphones (or computers while working from home), but it’s also potentially very dangerous.

It’s a policy at CLARK that accessing our systems or information, including our client’s information, can only be done via a CLARK-owned device. And this is one rule that better not be broken. Yes, there is an added cost to provide my employees with a smartphone but I do it because it’s critical that I control every device that has access to our information. Absorbing that cost allows me to sleep soundly without the information security worries that can keep a small business owner awake at night.

The problem is, if you can’t control a device with your information in it, you can’t be sure it’s secure. Many successful hacks happen through smartphones and it is critical that the same security practices you follow for work computers are followed for these devices.

Finally, Take Time Away

Not very long ago, I was back in Ohio getting ready to make an eight-hour trek home.  It was 8 am on a Sunday morning and my phone was off – and it wouldn’t power on!

When I’m driving, I typically listen to the news, podcast, or music by streaming it through my phone. Except that I had to spend the next eight hours driving home without it. Not only was I missing my primary form of entertainment, but I would also miss my email, text messages, and Facebook alerts.  It had been so long, I couldn’t even remember any of those good ole FM radio stations.

smartphone relax gif imageTo say that I was dreading that drive was an understatement.

But after I settled in and began to gain some mileage towards home, something unexpected happened. I enjoyed listening to the radio and letting my thoughts drift. By the halfway point, I stopped worrying about the email or text messages I was missing and began to enjoy being disconnected. My usual stresses fell away and I found myself relaxing. There is a value in disconnecting and allowing yourself to step off high alert for a little while.

Many of us depend on our smartphones. Whether for business or personal, keeping them available and safe is important. Just like computers, they are vulnerable. Following these best practices to keep them working and secure just makes sense. 


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