What I have done to increase my privacy is to download as much of my personal information/files/photos etc. onto a USB stick. I have a splitter that I can insert the stick into when I want access FIRST disconnecting online. I have a 'transfer' (clipboard) folder on my desktop that I can place the information in for when I get back online. When I am done getting the information I want, I close the stick/eject it from splitter and reconnect online.
Its a bit cumbersome and requires I'm conscientious as I do this, but it limits online visibility to just what I put online. Passwords and bookmarks can be done this way though again its not a snap to access or use. But no one can see what is NOT 'there'.
Understand that starting a low profile online footprint isn't a bad thing but it will be some time before this is populated across the internet. How Google, Facebook and many other social media sites work is multiple servers that replicate your data across different "zones" so that you always have access to it. While you were ignorant of this, and posting, sharing and storing online, that data has been duplicated for redundancy at minimal and possibly for sale, so exists several places. None of these are accessible to you directly. It will take months for the redundancies to "drop" old content. Each site has its limit of how old is old and what amount of storage is available per person for content (shared or stored). Read the terms and conditions of each to find those times and limits.
Future reference, explore the conditions of any online storage, they're redundancy policies as well as the time frame that "trash" or deleted material, even idle material (items not accessed for some time) are stored.
Final note: Never ever lost anything online you wouldn't share openly, unless it's encrypted (at least 256bit... minimal). Keep that in mind and you'll soon disappear from the web.
But if you only share what's inside that "transfer" folder with your online accounts, there's no need to complicate things by plugging the USB all the time. Even if you want the additional separation of concerns you could simply choose to mount it from the file manager, without physically disconnecting from the computer.
For clarity, the O.P. did not state that the information was being transferred to online accounts. Merely that the computer was taken offline prior to accessing sensitive information.
This is exactly the proper process for handling sensitive, secure, classified or secret information.
The host machine is taken offline, physically. Sensitive information is then accessed (in my case, it is a separate "Vault" drive) and addressed in whatever capacity was necessary, then restored to the storage vault drive.
The memory is purged.
Then the host machine brought back online.
Yeah, I understood "online" in the context of "web", "internet" and "cloud"... but that makes more sense now.
Yes, we all have been way too open and trusting with the information that we generate/keep. I don't expect to totally disappear online, but keeping an leash on what is 'known' about me makes more and more sense. As long as each computer has an IP address (necessity of course), its 'locate-able' so disappearing isn't possible or easy - even with VPN?
Meanwhile minimizing what leaks out is the objective. Feeding the monster just does not help any of us at all (IMHO).
Data farms need 'pruning' now and then with a nice EMP?? Or perhaps nature will assist by limiting energy resources which effect the largest $ucker$ like such sites? One can choke on trying to shallow and digest too much bytes at once?
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