You have probably been using a computer for most of your life — but that doesn’t make you a computer expert. In fact, most people continue to make fundamental mistakes in computer use, which affects their devices’ speed, safety, and longevity. If you want to continue using your device for years to come, you should know a bit more about computer care. This guide should help you reverse your most significant screw-ups and build habits that keep you and your device in proper working order.
Not Asking for Help
To most people, computers are hardly more comprehensible than magic. You press a few buttons, click a few links, and you have access to the sum of human knowledge and capability. Thus, it is baffling that average people try to set up, maintain, and fix their digital devices without help.
More often than not, computer problems are the result of improper use. Instead of compounding the problem by ignorantly fiddling with your software and hardware, you should acquire the services of trustworthy internet support. These professionals will tune up your machine to keep it running fast and smooth, setup your complicated hardware and software, and provide troubleshooting for almost all potential problems you might encounter. You probably need the help, so you might as well ask for it.
Not Backing Up Enough
The most important part of your computer is not the hardware — it’s the data. The information you have saved on your device is unique and irreplaceable; it’s the photos of your family, the music you listen to every day, the novel you’ve been writing on and off since high school. If your computer crashes or dies, you won’t be able to get that data back — unless you back up your data continuously.
These days, the most popular type of malware is called ransomware, which hides or encrypts your data with the threat of ultimate deletion unless you pay a ransom. Worse, there is no guarantee the hackers will return your precious data even after you pay. The only way to protect yourself fully is with continuous backups. Plenty of online providers offer backup services; you should find and install a trustworthy backup program this instant.
Not Updating Software
Ransomware isn’t the only malware on the market. You could also easily become the victim of a botnet, a keylogger, a rootkit, and others — and your chance of being infected with nasty malware strains is even greater if you don’t update your computer’s software.
An increasingly common way that hackers gain access to your devices is through software vulnerabilities, which are holes in programming code that give outsiders access to systems that should be highly protected. Unfortunately, vulnerabilities are becoming more common: In 2017, 29 percent more vulnerabilities were discovered and disclosed than in 2016. As a result, we saw some of the most massive cyberattacks of all time, including WannaCry, which devastated countless businesses and individuals around the world. It might feel like a waste of time; it might feel more productive to click “update later,” but every second you delay a software update or patch, you become more susceptible to a cyberattack.
Not Paying Attention to Downloads
As mentioned before, the internet is a wonderland of free resources, including tens of thousands of free downloads. If you want to try an expensive software, you can usually download a free trial; if you want to read a dissertation, it’s probably available as a free, downloadable PDF; if you want music, movies, photos, and more, you can illegally download them for free.
However, not all that freeware comes without a cost. Plenty of malware gets smuggled onto your computer through downloads, especially in downloads of executable files which nicely hide dangerous programs. Before you ever click “download,” you should be absolutely sure you can trust the file’s source — or else you should have a strong anti-virus program protecting your machine.
Not Cleaning Up
Too many users save all sorts of stuff to their devices and never return to clean up their digital messes. The more memory your device has available, the faster it can run. At the very least, you should maintain freedom in 10 percent of your main drive’s capacity; however, a better habit is to remove files you rarely use to cloud storage.
Additionally, you should schedule physical clean-ups of your devices. Computers especially benefit from a regular dusting, but even smaller devices like tablets and smartphones should be wiped down for optimal performance and appearance.