How to Declutter Your Data With No Regrets (But Keep What You Need)

One effective way to worry less about your data is to have less of it to worry about. To get there, you’ll need to redefine the word “important” to mean “impossible to get your hands on in future for free”.

With that definition as our guide, let’s explore the kind of data you can consider reducing from your digital life. Also, let’s see how you can access the relevant information once again if you need it in future.

Dump Bookmarks and Search as You Go


Nothing gets deleted from the internet, ever. The upside of that? You can find anything you need with a web search.

With that kind of power at your fingertips, you can afford to ditch most of your bookmarks. Of course, you might want to keep bookmarks that link to pages you visit often and those that contain indispensable information.

The trick is to stop treating every bookmark as important and keep your Bookmarks folder super lean, if not empty. With this approach, if you ever need to organize your saved links in any way, it will be as good as effortless.

Once you delete your bookmarks, you’ll need to sharpen your search skills. Learn some smart search tricks to bring up near-instant and accurate matches for any online resource. You might feel surprised how often serendipity steps in to bring you the right information at the right time.

What do you do if your search turns up a dead page?

Hop over to the Wayback Machine section of the Internet Archive to find the original content of that page. You can also dig up other types of free content from that archive. As a last resort, you can also turn to online communities to find the information you need.

Tip: Did you know you can view deleted Reddit comments on ReSavr?

Instead of bookmarking pages in future, why not follow or look up subreddits and other aggregator resources for topics you’re interested in. For example, if you like discovering useful web services or well-made websites, you can join the subreddit /r/InternetIsBeautiful/.

Trash Photos and Let Others Bring the Nostalgia


The best (and worst) of your photos are one friend, colleague, or family member away. Those photos turn up in social networks and chat groups anyway, often due to internet phenomena like Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday.

That leaves you free to declutter your data by pruning your digital albums, especially if you have enough photos in print to reminisce over.

How to decide which photos to delete? Start by finding the duplicates and similars with a duplicate file finder app. Once you delete them, you’ll notice the blurry photos, the ugly ones, and those of generic subjects like trees, mountains, and water.

Unless these photos showcase your mad photography skills or evoke strong memories, you probably won’t miss them if they’re gone. Then again, you might, so be careful about deleting dodgy photos.

I didn’t go through any of that step-by-step deletion though.

Instead, I deleted photo albums en masse and ended up with one folder of photos I took on a solo trip. I saved them because I’m the only one who has them. As a sucker for nostalgia, I appreciate that my focus is now less on the past and more on the present.

Delete Media and Start Streaming Content


If you enjoy good internet speeds in your area, consider streaming music and movies. It will help you part with some of your downloaded content. Streaming will also help you cut the cord forever.

Yes, you’ll need to consider the price of streaming services and the money you have already spent on downloaded media. Your preference for ownership of data will also be a deciding factor, and it might prove that streaming isn’t a good option for you. But don’t dismiss it outright. Give streaming a fair trial, or switch to it for certain types of content.

If you decide streaming is perfect for you after all, the most obvious choices available to you are Spotify for music and Netflix for movies. Of course, there are plenty of other services that can help you declutter your data. Find the right one for you and start deleting.

Ditch “Someday” Data and Crowdsource It


From contacts you never call to free ebooks you never get around to reading, what data have you saved because you “might need it someday”? Delete it. You probably won’t need it, and if you do, help is one step away.

Send one message to your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, chat contacts, or your Slack team, and you’ll have the information you need. You can also get answers from communities and Q&A sites like:

Ready to Hit the Delete Button?

So, what else can you get rid of? We have more ideas for decluttering your data! You can delete:

Before you start decluttering your digital data, take a step back.

It would be a nightmare to lose passwords, browser settings, tax returns, contracts, and so on. (There’s data you can classify as important!)

Be sure to isolate those bits of information from the rest of your data to avoid accidental deletion and back them up in multiple places. Put the whole backup process on autopilot if you can.

Of course, going on a data deletion spree is not the right approach for everyone. But you’re discerning enough to figure out if it’s the right one for you and how far you should take it.

Now, ready to set free some of your data and never bother about it again? It’ll take time to go through all of it, but when you get to the other side it’ll feel liberating. You’ll be familiar with this feeling if you have given away physical possessions in bulk anytime. Bring it back by Kondoing your digital life.