We are all living busy lives, we work and have families, but when we approach a device, many times we forget to take the right attitude towards it and we don’t ask ourself the right questions.
When we use a computer or set it up for the first time, do we ever ask ourselves if that device is safe, how long approximately will it last, how we are going to use it, how are we going to discard it once it is at the end of its life?
I have enough experience to admit that we all make mistakes based on poor judgment, rush, wrong attitude etc etc. and that we can improve our knowledge by listening to those who can give you good pieces of advice.
The following tips will help you reflect and think that your digital life is as important as your biological life and that for this reason, you may want to take the appropriate action to avoid costly mistakes:
1- When a thunderstorm is coming, unplug your device from the outlet or from the surge protector. Even if you have a surge protector, that won’t be enough to withstand the voltage of a lightning striking your house (unless you have a lightning conductor);
2- If you run a machine with Windows 7, backup your data and switch to a new machine running Windows 10. As previously discussed, it’s too early to get familiar with Windows 11 because of its bugs and known issues;
3- If you work from home, have several kids and live in a house larger than 2,500 square feet, consider upgrading the speed of your router to 1 GB and getting a router with WIFI 6 capabilities.
4- Do not allow your kids to play with mom and dad’s computers but have them use a tablet instead: an Ipad or an Android tablet will minimize the risks of getting infected by viruses and other type of malware. If your kids do their homeworks at home with a laptop provided by the school, make sure that they use a Chromebook instead, which is based on Linux.
5- Conduct periodical security checkups such as, update the operating systems of your machines and enable Multi Factor Authentication whenever possible.
6- Do not use the username ADMIN but customize every username and use non dictionary passwords of at least 8 mixed characters in length.
7- Backup frequently your devices to the cloud and to external hard drives. Remember to unplug the external hard drives once the backup is finished. Do not keep the external hard drives for more than 5 years. I had customers looking for support after that they kept hard drives in the draws of their furniture for ten years and they got mad when the hard drives were not turning on anymore.
8- Do not use AOL as main email provider: aol has too many popups inviting users to install antivirus or run computer scans. Use Gmail or a business email instead that is tied to your phone via Multi Factor Authentication.
9- Never use as your main email provider: Verizon, Optimum or other non Gmail providers: consider instead migrating all your emails to Gmail instead. I do offer email migration services.
10- Do not believe that Macs are more virus resistant than Windows computers: this is a total BS. I saw nasty infections percolating through bad Safari browsers extension that forced me to wipe out Macs and reinstall everything from scratch after that I couldn’t even move my mouse or type anything on the keyboard.
11- Protect your browser through Browser Guard by Malware Bytes: bad actors come through email or the Internet. Please provide your computer with a good antivirus as well.
12- Be careful with your phone: do not click on text messages that contain a link and educate your kids to do the same. As hackers are having harder time getting into computers, they are finding easy ways to get into smart phones instead. Safeguard your phone with a mobile antivirus such as Malware Bytes Mobile Protection. Nowadays computers are more secure than smartphones, that’s why you should be vigilant and pay careful attention to your mobile device and to those owned by your family members.
13- Avoid the common mistake that most people do, which is waiting for the computer to die before getting a new one: it’s much harder to setup a new machine from a dead one than migrating files and settings among two fully functioning computers. In my experience, the life expectancy of a computer is about 4 to 5 years. After that, the heat bakes the capacitors and the computer starts slowing down.
14- Try to avoid playing games in a computer with only an Intel Core I5, 8 GB of RAM and 250 GB hard drive. Today gamers use downloaders to stuff their machines with games that may play in the future. In doing so, they fill up very quickly the main hard drive of a computer that was conceived and built to do light work, such as going to the Internet and check emails. I will write an article about the best specs for a computer that you can build yourself for gaming and video editing without breaking the bank.
15- You don’t have Internet? Do not panic but look at the color of the lights in your modem/router. If they are orange that is the sign of a disruption. However, before calling your ISP, try to reboot it or unplug it for 30 seconds or so. If that did not solve the problem, you may want to call your ISP. A fully functioning router should have all green or white steady lights.
16- If you can’t print on a Windows computer, go to the Control Panel > Devices and Printers and see if your default printer is grayed out. Right click on it and click on Troubleshoot. Wait for the troubleshooting diagnostics to finish and check the results: most of the times is something minor and you don’t need to call tech support
17- If you run a business and have a business class printer, avoid connecting the printer via WIFI or USB but use an Ethernet cable to connect it to the router. A network printer will perform more reliably and will continue to work even if the wifi of your house or office is down.
18- If you work from home or in an office, consider using two monitors of 23 inches each. 27 inches Acer monitors are my best choice for durability, color and image quality. You will multitask better with two monitors rather than with only one.