4 Painless Ways To Avoid Being A Digital Pack Rat

Don’t let being a digital hoarder happen to you. Here are four super-easy ways to de-clutter your bits and bytes, streamline your tech toys and gratuitous gadgets, and live a simpler life.


Right now I am staring at a message that has been haunting me for weeks, hovering dangerously at the top of my Gmail inbox. It says, “You are almost out of space!” Yikes. Is this even possible? I scroll down to the bottom of the page to see that I am in fact at 95 percent capacity. Although I’ve been deleting emails to lower this number, it keeps creeping back up.  


My name is Amber, and I am a digital pack rat. Whether it’s contributing to a bloated Gmail account or running out of Skype minutes, I am always living on the edge of capacity. Oh, and don’t even ask how many old iPods and cellphones I have sitting around–it’s embarrassing. However, this spring I’m feeling inspired to declutter my bits and bytes, streamline my tech toys and gratuitous gadgets, and live a simpler life.

Here are the four categories where I need help, and how I’m cleaning up my act.

1. Email

Little did I know that I had hundreds of drafts sitting in my account. Aside from deleting each of these messages, and deleting the contents of my Trash and Spam folders, I decided to cough up a tiny bit of cash for more space. Sure, I could have ported all my emails to another Gmail account, but I still like the idea of having all my correspondence in one place. So, for a mere $5/year, I bought 20GB of storage. It’s a small price to pay for a more robust inbox. Iif you do buy extra space, just be aware that it takes up to 24 hours to process this new storage.

2. Photos


Every since I became a mom, I started to store a lot more digital pictures on my computer, from mobile to high-res images. For the most part, I have the files sitting (gasp) within my Gmail account (if they were sent from friends and family) or in a folder on my computer. Since these images are too precious to lose, a good idea is to back them up online (using a pro Flickr account or another service) and also store them an external hard drive.

3. VoIP

There is no better way to save money on long distance than to depend on Skype for its inexpensive landline and mobile plans. Right now, my account is hovering around $3.40. After I make a few calls I watch it slowly dip, knowing that it’s only a matter of time before my credit is at a big fat zero. The great thing about Skype is that you can turn on auto-recharge so that your account is reloaded when the balance falls below $3. The recharge is the same amount of your initial charge. Managing your Skype credit is an important to do, especially if you’re like me and your rely on it in your business and personal life.

4. Gadgets


In my not-so-spare time I review gadgets. For anyone in the tech journalism biz, you know what this means: I am the proud owner of an electronic graveyard. I have old laptops, cellphones, iPods. You name it, it’s probably collecting dust in my basement. Although I imagine that one day I will need these tech toys again, chances are their life with me has come to an end. Fortunately, there are more tools than ever online for unloading your old electronics. One is Eqosquid, which matches you up with a cash buyer for your stuff. Even better, many companies and organizations offer recycling programs. Apple has one in place, and you can often get a small store credit in return for your old gadgets. There are also many charitable programs, including one from Dell called Reconnect, that make it easy and convenient to drop off your old tech stuff at participating Goodwill locations.

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[Images by Wordle]

About the author

Amber Mac is a bestselling author, TV host, speaker, and strategist. She has worked as a technology TV host with tech guru Leo Laporte on G4TechTV and currently co-hosts a popular show on Laporte's network