Even though the shelf-life of computers are getting shorter and shorter, you should still want to keep you’re “baby” running as long as possible. Additionally, you also want to ensure that nothing bad happens to your computer at the worst possible time. To keep your computer up and running, and to squeeze more speed and productivity from your computer, here are 11 common computer mistakes you need to stop making…now.
Not using a screen lock/password
This the most obvious, simplest to implement, but never used computer mistake. Now that most people own a laptop and have no problem taking it everywhere they go to get work done, it’s even more important to add a password and lock your computer while you step away. This prevents nosey co-working folks from seeing what’s on your computer. I know, I know…It’s a “pain” to type in your password every five minutes. Guess what, there are apps/software that will automatically lock your computer when you walk away, and unlock it when you return (Hint: They use your smartphone, that you take everywhere, even to the potty).
Using the same password
You may think you’re doing it right by using a complex, minimum of 8 character password that consists of letters, numbers, and special characters. If you’re using that SAME password to unlock your computer, login to banking/financial sites, social media, and everything else, you’re doing it WRONG. To avoid this computer mistake, I suggest use a password manager like LastPass that can also check and rate your password integrity to ensure you’re less vulnerable to getting hacked.
Not backing up your files
It seems like every week, somebody I know is on Facebook or Twitter praying to the Geek Squad gods to spare them the pain and trouble of replacing ALL their files as a result of a Hard Drive crash or liquid spill all over their computer – All that coffee in the morning is NOT good for you. So not backing up your files is the cardinal sin of computer mistakes. If your computer’s files are backed up either online using services like BackBlaze AND/or on an external Hard Drive, worse case scenario is you need to buy a new computer, instead of also needing to retake baby pictures using your grown-ass kids.
No external drive encryption
If you’re using an external Hard Drive to either back up your computer or store files that you don’t commonly use to free space on your computer…Kudos. But if your Hard Drive decides to grow legs and walk out the door when your’e not looking (read: somebody jacks you for your drive), you might want to encrypt your Hard Drive so nobody can access your data. Both Mac and PC have built-in (read: free) services that let you enter a password to your Hard Drive to decrypt the files when you need access.
Not using the cloud
The storage space in computers is getting smaller and smaller, but your storage needs are growing. Additionally, you have multiple devices that need access to the same files all the time. Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and others are a good place to synchronize your most commonly used files to make sure you have access no matter where you are or what device your using. Nothing like being able to send that important file to your boss/client from your smartphone because your computer is waaaay on the other side of the room.
Too many apps launching at startup
You wonder why it takes FOREVER for your computer to boot up? To many apps/services launching during the boot process is why. A common computer mistake is to allow software, that you’re not even sure you will use all the time, to start running during the boot process. To speed up the boot process, reduce the number of apps that load up when you start your Mac or PC. Then go through one by one and turn back on essential services that need to launch.
Not restarting your computer
You need to shower/bath, shampoo your hair, brush your teeth, and put on some lotion (I hope you use lotion) regularly right? Well, your computer needs to freshen up every once in a while too. A common computer mistake is letting your computer run, and run…and run without shutting it down and restarting regularly. Shutting down your computer forces applications to completely close, freeing up more RAM, closing memory leaks, and a bunch of other stuff that can slow down your computer as well as reduce its lifespan. You would automatically shut down/restart your computer regularly if you’re keeping the operating system/software up date…More on that later. As a rule of thumb, I shut down my computers(s) at least once per week.
Not upgrading the RAM
Without getting too deep in tech jargon, the processor is the brains of your computer. The RAM (Random Access Memory) is what’s used to find stuff on your computer. While the processor is extremely hard if not impossible to upgrade, the RAM on the other hand, is super easy to upgrade for most computers not named MacBook Pro/Air. It would be a computer mistake to not upgrade your RAM. RAM is one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your computer’s speed. The more RAM you have, the faster the RAM can find all the stuff on your computer. If you’re in the market for a new computer that has also made it extremely hard if not impossible to upgrade the RAM, make sure you opt to get as much RAM as your budget can stand at the time of purchase.
Not updating operating system/software
I can understand not immediately wanting to adopt the latest and greatest major operating system release for your computer. But everything else like security, bug, and incremental operating system and software patches/updates? Shame on you for not staying up to date. Don’t say nothing when your computer gets the Ebola virus and dies because you didn’t feel like closing down your browser to let a security patch finish updating because you were in the middle of that oh-so-important Facebook status update.
Downloading and clicking on everything
That “It will never happen to me” attitude that you have while randomly clicking on stuff from the WORLD wide web will get you in trouble one day. Just because it LOOKS like your bank is sending you a password reset notice, doesn’t mean you’re supposed to click on it, ESPECIALLY IF YOU DIDN’T REQUEST A PASSWORD RESET. Additionally, don’t fall for the okie-doke of clicking on that link that says “Your computer is infected, click here to clean it.” If that message came from the web and not your computer, chances are by clicking on it, you’re giving hackers permission to hold your computer hostage and make you pay through the nose to give it back.
Not properly ventilating your computer
Heat is the number one enemy of any computer. You’re computer will run slow and loud, and even shut down or fry internal parts as a result of running too hot. Add that with how tight desktops and laptops are being packed with components, you have a recipe for a computer with a very short lifespan. To avoid heat from destroying your computer, use it on a flat, hard surface. A soft, heat-absorbing surface…like your lap, will stop heat from dissipating, causing all kinds of trouble. Additionally, (and especially if you have pets), it’s a good idea of open up your computer and blow some compressed air to free up dust and hair that could be clogging the fans and vents.
Show your computer some love. If you continue to take it for granted like using music samples from popular songs of great artists of old, sooner or later, it will come back to expensively bite you in the ass.
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