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Six Ways to Streamline
Your Online Life – or Save Money

Does your Internet service move at a crawl? Do you find it difficult to remember all your online passwords? Here are ways to solve those and other problems and possibly save money, too, suggest editors at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

  • Get free TV with your wireless plan – Now that its merger with Time Warner is complete, AT&T is offering two unlimited wireless plans that include free access to more than 30 channels of live TV, including CNN, TBS and AMC, as well as 15,000 shows and movies on demand. Customers with other wireless plans can pay for the service, called WatchTV, for $15 a month, which makes it the cheapest streaming service available. Sign up online or call AT&T (800-331-0500).
  • Speed up your searches – If web pages load at a crawl and videos keep buffering, measure your Internet connection's download and upload speeds at www.speedtest.net If you aren't getting the speed you pay for, contact your service provider to troubleshoot the connection. While you're on the line, ask whether you qualify for any promotional deals.
  • Manage passwords – End the frustrating cycle of resetting forgotten passwords – and foil ID thieves – by setting up a password manager, such as LastPass. The service will help you create strong, unique passwords for each account, then store them behind a single, ultra-secure master password. When you're browsing the web, LastPass will automatically fill in your credentials. The service's free version works across multiple devices, but the premium offering ($24 a year) adds multifactor authentication and 1 gigabyte of encrypted storage.
  • Clean up your online footprint – Sign into accounts that you no longer use (check old e-mail messages to jog your memory), then visit AccountKiller.com and Backgroundchecks.org/justdeleteme for instructions on how to remove accounts from popular sites, including AOL, Facebook, HotMail and MySpace.
  • Back up digital photos – To protect your photos and videos from hackers, a virus, a technical glitch or other mishap, redundancy is key. Keep photos on your phone or PC if you'd like, but store backup copies on an external hard drive or “gold” quality CDs – as well as in the cloud with a service such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive. If you use your smartphone to snap pictures that you don't want to lose, check your phone's settings to make sure you've scheduled automatic cloud backups that include your images.
  • Stop renting your router and modem – Instead of spending $10 to $15 a month to rent an all-in-one modem and router from your Internet service provider, buy your own setup. You'll generally spend $100 to $200 and recoup the cost in one to two years. Look for a combination modem and router that's on your provider's list of approved devices (usually on its website). After setting up your new device, contact your Internet provider and ask how to return the modem and router you rented.

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