The death of your PC or laptop may be closer than you think, especially if you’re guilty of not taking proper care of your precious portal to the internet. Computers need loving care and bad user habits are the top reason they go to tech heaven. Are you guilty of these nine bad habits?
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1. Always using sleep mode
Many PCs and laptops have a sleep mode where after a set time limit, the screen goes dark and your machine seems peaceful and relaxed. Unfortunately, sleep mode still uses electricity so your computer isn’t really “off.” Rather follow the steps to turn off your machine and then perform a cold boot when it’s time for use again. Furthermore, if you always rely on the sleep mode, your computer never gains the chance to reboot (a necessary option for updates).
2. Skipping the updates
Speaking of updates, you need to allow your operating system to reboot and update. It’s true that you can change the options for automatic reboots for updates or choose to ignore them altogether. But doing so can cause conflicts with websites, email and webpages you often visit. It may also make it difficult to download images or documents. Update when urged to do so and avoid unforeseen problems. Some software updates like those from Adobe and Flash are necessary to ensure viewing of certain sites or documents.
3. You believe every email is safe
We’re “blessed” with an internet full of hackers and spammers. Check out your inbox’s spam folder and you’ll get the idea. It’s just too easy to get a million dollars from Nigeria. Or, worse, you open an official-looking email from a website you trust and use, complete the instructions and find you’ve been hacked. Avoid this by never opening emails or email attachments from senders you don’t recognize. Read commonly used website policies on how they contact you. If you have been hacked, use your anti-virus or security software to help you find, quarantine and delete any malware.
4. You only use one backup option
Whether you use a DVD, external hard drive or thumb drive, you shouldn’t rely on just one backup option. All of these backup devices may get damaged. Remember to keep your backup solutions in a safe place and pay attention to manufacturer storage directions including recommended storage temperatures. Do use these (or a combination of them) but also look into cloud backup services from Google or affordable cloud storage offerings from places like Carbonite.
5. Never maintaining your computer
If you’re a laptop user who consistently leaves your computer on a dusty floor, allowing it to mix with hair and dust, never checking the fan or ignoring overheating or weird sounds, you’re probably not performing computer maintenance. Every PC or laptop manual (online, CD, DVD or booklet) has manufacturer maintenance suggestions. Find them and follow them. If you’ve lost your manual, you can find it online via your laptop manufacturer. These manuals will also tell you how to check your fan for blockage and how to clean your laptop or PC screen safely. Failing that, for every problem you’ve ever had on a computer, there’s a forum thread about it. Go into the forums and see what the community has to say about your computer’s issue.
6. You’re skipping the antivirus software
Just because you have a secure internet connection doesn’t mean that your PC or laptop is safe from malware, virus, worms and spyware. Most PCs and laptops come with preloaded security (anti-virus) software but many of these are in the form of a trial period which means you need to renew these or find a different solution. If you can’t afford the anti-virus software renewal, CNET offers free and safe anti-virus download for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Also, it’s never recommended to turn off your firewall for any reason.
7. Don’t make office PCs and laptops your problem
Most of us utilise a PC or laptop at work and our employers pay well for IT and network support. If you find an issue with your work computer and ignore it, that doesn’t mean it will go away. Report any issues (online or offline) you experience with work computers to your IT personnel or manager as soon as they appear. Treat your office computers as you would a home PC or laptop because you do need to rely on these machines each and every day.
8. Your passwords are poorly selected
There are a few common passwords people use all the time. What are they? Believe it or not, the most over-used are “password,” “qwerty” and “123456.” These are well-known by hackers, so choose passwords wisely with a mix of upper and lowercase, characters and numbers. It’s also not a good idea to use the same password for everything. Choose different passwords for online banking, social media and email, for example. Here’s the full list of the most common passwords used today.
9. You keep rarely used software
As we ride the information superhighway, we see all sorts of offers for cool software for just about everything. “Make templates and newsletters or create a legal document in three easy steps”. Or, a software package you purchased isn’t what you expected it to be, so you never use it. Uninstall old or barely used programs on a consistent basis and remove those that say “rarely used.” This will free up space on your laptop or PC. Never delete a program that may be required to operate your computer. If you don’t know what a program does, Google is your friend.
Being guilty of one of these nine bad habits that may be killing your computer are easily changed by setting up a computer management plan. Following these steps and obtaining the advice of IT professionals will save you time and keep your laptop or PC safe.
Image via BBC.com