Bad computer habits you need to kick – part 2

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Last week I talked about 4 bad computer habits that I see happening pretty regularly.  This week in part 2, I’ll cover the other 4.  If you do any of these things with your computer, knock it off!

bad computer habits

 

Picking up from where we left off last Monday –

5.  Clicking on unknown links
Every time I get to the point where I think that by now just about all computer users must be aware of the danger of clicking on links that they aren’t sure of, I get a phone call from someone who did just that.

Just recently I got a panicked call from a client.  She said she got an email from her credit card supplier, and it told her that her account had been suspended due to some suspicious activity.  The email conveniently provided a link for her to click on to log in to her account and provide the necessary information.  She clicked on that link, and of course the website she was taken to looked exactly like the credit card website – but it wasn’t, of course.  She entered her email address and her password, and it “seemed” to log her in, because it then went to the next screen.

That next screen was where her suspicion level was raised high enough that she just closed the browser window and started to think “Have I just been scammed?”.  At that point, the scammers had the login information to her credit card account.  But fortunately, she logged in (to the REAL account this time) and changed her password before the bad guys tried to.

It goes back to the same fundamental rule – be suspicious of everything.  An “unknown link” is any link that you don’t know for sure where it’s going to take you.  If you get an email that simply offers some “generic” text such as “hey check this out” and invites you to click on a link, that’s not a known link.  It doesn’t matter if it came from someone you know.  It doesn’t matter if it came from your mother – don’t click it.

 

6. Automatically clicking “Next” when installing software
This is such an easy trap to fall into.  Almost all software programs have all those legal disclaimers and Terms of Use that you have to agree to, and the simplest thing to do is just click “I agree” or “Next” without really reading what the screen says.

Unfortunately, the scammers have figured that out and they’re HOPING you just click those buttons without reading the text.  In many cases, when you click those things you are telling the program to install lots of other junk software, extra toolbars, different search engines, and to change your home page to something else.  So many times people will bring me their computer that is practically unusable because of all the pop-ups and other garbage, and they don’t know how it got there – “all I did was download a free desktop weather program”.  There’s a reason some programs are free – they make money when you don’t pay attention and all that other stuff gets installed.

7. Going days or weeks without rebooting
Your computer should be restarted every 1-2 days.  Each time it starts up, it has fresh memory and will just work better.  In fact, when someone has a problem and the computer is not working properly, one of the things I will ask is, “When was the last time the computer was restarted?”  Sometimes I find computers that have been on for several weeks or even months straight.  Restarting often fixes whatever problem is happening.

Think about it like this – how long could you go without taking a shower or washing your hair?  For most people it’s probably a day or maybe two days.  Sure, you COULD go a week or even a few weeks, but think about how awful and dirty you would feel.  Would you really be at  your best if you went that long?  And then imagine after all that time being able to take a nice long hot shower – how refreshing!  That’s how your computer feels when you restart it after it’s been working for a while.  It’s much happier.

8. Not having any backup
Of course – you didn’t think I could talk about bad habits and not mention the lack of a regular backup did you?  That’s because it’s important!

What would you do if you hit the power button tomorrow morning, and the computer didn’t come on?  Or the screen displayed the message “No disk found” (which indicates a hard drive crash).  If that would cause your heart to skip a beat because of all the important documents and pictures that are stored on there that are not backed up anywhere else, it should be one of your priorities TODAY to get that taken care of.

And if I asked you right now, “Do you have all of your important stuff backed up?” and your answer is, “Well, I guess it’s backed up…” that means you don’t have a backup.  The backup process doesn’t just set itself up.  You have to do it deliberately.  I do it all time for my clients, so let me help.  Before it’s too late.

So there you have it, 8 bad computer habits that really should be avoided.  If you’re not guilty of any of them, good job!  Chances are a few of them applied to you though – so let’s get that fixed and avoid some headaches down the road.

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