Simple, Common, and Easily Avoided: Don’t Make These 7 Mistakes with your Computer

As experts in the IT industry, people come to us with many computer problems that are easy to prevent, but woefully difficult to fix. To avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache, and perhaps an ulcer, try not to make the following mistakes.

Don’t Invite Trouble

1. Hello Malware, come on in…

Image courtesy of flickr user Håkan Dahlström

Unless you trust the source, don’t download their material. There is a vast wasteland of websites offering free media downloads, and many of them are including a free virus in the bargain. When you click to download, you are opening the door to your computer and inviting them in. Stick with well-known and legal websites that offer free media, like Hulu.

2. You’re making it worse

If your computer is acting funkier than last week’s gym socks, and you have no idea why, please don’t try to fix it yourself! Too often users find a problem, look up a solution online, and follow the directions without a clear understanding of what they’re doing and why it’s supposed to make things better. They can end up taking a small problem and converting it to a major blitz that’s almost irreparable. Unless you truly know what you’re doing: Stop! Drop! And roll that problem on over to an expert.

3. Passwords should protect

Image courtesy of flickr user fczuardi

There are two major mistakes people make with their password. The first is that they use the same one for every account in their life. This means if one password is compromised, every valuable piece of information is immediately endangered. Not good. Each password should be unique, and if you have trouble keeping track try a program like Keepass.

The second mistake is possibly the most frustrating. Ready- I’m going to be harsh- here it comes: If you’re going to make your password “123456” why have a password at all? Just be honest with yourself and eliminate the pointless extra keystrokes. The same thing goes for the following: qwerty, password, 1234, 12345, and so on. Shockingly, these are all on a list of the top 10 most common passwords, which means you should avoid them like the plague; they are an immediate and dangerous hole in your security. In fact, certain companies (hotmail, for example) are now banning their use. The best passwords are random strands of letters, numbers and characters, but these can be difficult to remember. There are other effective approaches to finding secure but memorable passwords.

4. Please Secure your Network

Please! If you do not secure your wireless network then anyone nearby can use your  wireless network, and probably access your information. Usually a firewall is already built into your router, all you have to do is make sure it’s on. It’s also a good idea to change the default network name (often the brand name), enable the highest supported encryption, and make the network invisible. This all sounds complicated, but in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, it takes only a few minutes. And for the love of all that is holy, please change the default password.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Your Computer Needs Love too

Image courtesy of flickr user AdriánPérez

5. Spring Cleaning

Computers are fragile and expensive equipment that can be harmed by built-up dust and grime, so use a feather-duster and microfiber cloth and give your computer some good old-fashioned TLC. A blocked vent could lead to major issues such as overheating, which could be a ‘silent killer.’ As far as your computer is concerned, this is as ominous as it sounds.

6. Don’t fall behind the Times

Just as your hardware needs upkeep, so does your software. Regularly update your software, especially your antivirus protection! Just like you need a new flu vaccination every year, your computer needs to be regularly protected against the latest strains of malware. Speaking of which… have and use legitimate antivirus software. This is non-negotiable.

7. Back that Thang Up

Another part of your maintenance regimen should be backing up your data. Should the worst happen, you’ll still have all your work and important information. If your computer crashes you’ll have enough to deal with already, you don’t want to lose years and years worth of files.

If you have any questions, or can think of any bone-headed computer mistakes we might have missed, let us know! And check out the NE Computer Solutions facebook page for information about how to win an awesome set of Sennheiser earbuds ($50 value).

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One Response to Simple, Common, and Easily Avoided: Don’t Make These 7 Mistakes with your Computer

  1. Pingback: 5 Crucial Steps For Managing Your Business’ IT: Part I | Small Business Computer Help

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