It’s 2020, a brand new year, and you know what that means: Resolutions you’ll definitely keep this time! Yes, you know you can change your habits and hit the gym first thing tomorrow, or begin your library book binge as soon as you’re done reading this story. If you’re trying to seriously stick to those goals, you’re in luck: these apps and services can help you stay focused on everything from improving your health to keeping yourself secure online.
Track Those Good (and Bad) Habits
Yes, you’re tired of taking the elevator, skipping the gym, and drinking coffee instead of old-fashioned water. It’s the new year, so if you want to keep track of those healthier habits, why not employ a habit tracking app? Apps like Momentum and Streaks offer fun, unique interfaces to keep track of the habits you want to build, and even the habits you want to abandon. StickK lets you put some skin in the game in the form of cash sent to a friend, foe, charity, or to StickK itself whenever you miss your goals. And since these apps work on wearable devices like the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to stay on top of your resolutions as you make progress (and deny your friend a few bucks at the same time). The best part? An actual record of how many times you made it out the door on a run might just motivate you to keep the streak alive.
Make More Quiet Time
Everyone wants to be more mindful, self-aware, and conscious of the world around them. Not everyone’s great at making time to work on their mindfulness, though. If you’ve had trouble getting into a groove when it comes to meditating, there are more than a few apps that can offer some assistance.
Apps like Calm or Headspace offer guided meditation lessons for sleeping, focusing, or getting rid of the day’s stress, if you opt for a subscription. Want something more straightforward, or something to just track the time you spend sitting? Ditch the guided meditation and go for a more no-frills app like Quantified Sit, which offers a simple timer, tracks your minutes spent sitting, and works with your Apple Watch.
Get a Password Manager
Sorry, “P4$$werdt” ain’t gonna protect your accounts from anything, and neither is the weird password construction scheme you concocted in your brain. Chances are the shortlist of passwords you use to protect everything from your Instagram profile to your bank account is compromised — you can check here, where a repository of millions of compromised passwords exist. Think you’re not affected? Think again.
That’s where password managers come in. Using a password manager not only forces you to use stronger passwords, it helps you better manage your online persona when trouble strikes in the form of a data breach or compromised account. A password manager can store more than your username and password — it can keep personal documents, financial information, and other sensitive material you’d like to protect safe from ne’er-do-wells. Apps like Dashlane, 1Password, and Lastpass all provide a comprehensive password management service (some provide two-factor authentication support as well) you can access on any device, or through a web browser.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Sure, securing your password is a great first step to better privacy and security hygiene, but you’re missing one more critical component to ensure comprehensive protection: two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security should someone get a hold of your username and password.
Two-factor authentication uses another method of identity verification with what you have on you, be it your smartphone, a two-factor authentication app, or a physical authentication key you insert into your computer or smartphone. Keep in mind, verification using text messages is still better than nothing, but is comparatively less secure than using an app or device.
As for apps, two-factor authentication apps like Authy make it easy to manage multiple accounts, as do authentication apps from Google and Microsoft. For a physical two-factor authentication method, companies like Yubico make USB dongles you can attach to your keychain or tuck in a wallet. Just insert them when your device asks you to verify your identity, usually when logging into a new or seldom-used device or online service.
Backup Your Computer, For Real This Time
Yes, you’ve got iCloud and Google Photos handling your smartphone snapshots, and still use cloud storage services like Dropbox or OneDrive, but what about your trusty PC or Mac? Even if you have an external drive where you put all your downloaded files or favorite games, that one hard drive can kick the bucket at any time. That’s why you need a real online backup service for your computer.
Options like Acronis, Carbonite, and Backblaze are cloud-based backup services that will copy everything on your PC (and any connected external drives) for safe keeping on their encrypted servers. That offsite backup is convenient for recovering files, but the most convenient part about a comprehensive backup service is its ability to get you up and running when disaster strikes. In addition to providing a cloud storage option that lets you download and restore older versions of your files, services like Backblaze will send you a physical copy of your entire backup on a flash drive or larger hard drive you can use to get yourself up and running after an incident like computer component failure.
Having a cloud backup of your computer is essential if you want to follow the “3-2-1” backup strategy: three copies of your data, two of which are stored locally (like on a computer and on an external drive), with one backup stored offsite — in this case, in the cloud. Sticking to a comprehensive backup service can protect you from losing data after a disaster like a fire or flood, and can provide peace of mind in case someone decides to nab your laptop, taking your memories with it.
Save a Little More This Year
Want to start investing or saving for something big? Make it easier on yourself by using apps purpose-built for helping you stack your bread. Robinhood makes it easy to start purchasing and managing your budding stock portfolio; Qapital combines a smart app, automatic savings options, and a physical debit card to make for a banking app that’s probably more useful than your actual banking institution’s offering.
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Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org