Not installing anti-virus software
The first thing you should do when you get a PC is to install some anti-virus software. Failing to do so leaves your computer open to attacks, along with the potential of downloading malicious software. Download some anti-virus protection as soon as possible – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Falling for phone scams
If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If somebody calls you claiming to be from tech support, don’t blindly believe their words. Nine times out of ten, they’re a scammer, hellbent on hacking into your PC to steal your personal information.
Not turning it off and on again
The first course of action you should take when dealing with a technical issue is to turn it on and off again. Often, this will resolve even the most drastic of errors, giving your computer a brief moment of respite. Once you turn your computer back on again, it should be running without any issues.
Being too impatient
We’re all guilty of it – screaming at our monitors when our computer takes five minutes to load one webpage. However, patience is needed when navigating the digital world. Clicking the same thing 15 times in a row will only cause further delays, leaving you pulling out your hair in frustration.
Not updating your system
Your computer isn’t telling you to update your hardware just for the fun of it. Regularly updating your PC will help to keep malware at bay, install new programs, and ensure that everything is running in tip-top shape. You can even schedule the update to occur overnight, meaning you needn’t miss out on any screen time.
Downloading dodgy updates
Don’t believe those glaring pop-ups that claim you need to update your PC. These are viruses, designed to scare you into clicking on their dodgy links. Your computer will never ask you to do an update via a webpage. Instead, it’ll be a pop-up that’s usually located in the bottom right corner of your screen.
Opening random email attachments
Always be careful when opening email attachments. They can harbor many harmful items, including malware and viruses that can be used to steal your personal info. Always be cautious, even if the email is from a trusted friend or colleague. If the attachment looks suspicious, avoid it at all costs.
Keeping too many tabs open
This is a mistake we’re all guilty of. You open a few links sent by friends, order something from Amazon, and Google the weather – the next thing you know, you’ve got 99+ tabs running in the background. This can severely impair your PC’s ability to run properly. Close what you don’t need – it’ll instantly improve your computer’s performance.
Having too many things running upon startup
When you boot up your computer, there are several programs that immediately spring into action. This can cause your computer to crash, with too many programs all trying to run at the same time. Go into your startup settings and see if there’s anything you can remove from the list for a smoother startup.
Ignoring disk space warnings
When these error messages pop up, don’t ignore them – they’re your computer crying out for help! If your PC is rammed full of useless files, images, and downloads, it’ll make it almost impossible for it to run on top form, let alone allow it to run any extra programs. Clear it out every now and then, allowing it to work more efficiently.
Having a messy desktop
Your desktop is your launch zone – the place from which you access everything else on your computer. It’s best to keep it as organized and clutter-free as possible, allowing you to get to different programs swiftly. A tidy desktop results in a tidy mind.
Not backing up important documents
While working on your long-awaited novel, ensure that you do frequent backups. The same can be said for your precious family photos and vital work files. Failure to do so may mean that you lose all of these important documents, leaving them forever lost in the digital abyss.
Not blocking popups
Some websites are littered with irritating popups, covering the entire screen with ads that you just can’t seem to navigate around. You can install anti-popup extensions to your PC’s browser to bypass these glaring boxes, allowing you to surf the web without any disruption.
Keeping your computer too hot
You need to be mindful of how you position your computer or laptop. If there isn’t enough ventilation, the device can overheat, resulting in the hard drive melting. Ensure your computer is kept cool – you can even purchase gel-ice packs for laptops that prevent them from getting too hot.
Giving out too much personal information
It’s important to protect your data when navigating the online world. Seemingly innocent things like updating your Facebook status can be used against you. Posting that you’re on holiday shows that your home has been left vacant, while many hackers can steal your private data and sell it for profit. The less that’s out there about you, the better.
Not saving frequently
Whether you’re working on an important document, writing a novel, or simply playing a video game, you always need to make sure that you frequently hit that save button. Computers are notorious for random crashes, resulting in hours of hard work being suddenly erased.
Using the same password
It’s tempting to use the same password for all of your accounts, enabling you to remember your log in details in a pinch. However, if just one of your profiles gets hacked, every other account under your name can be easily accessed. For your own safety, it’s wise to have differing passwords for each and every log in.
Using public WiFi
Public WiFi may seem like a great thing – it allows you to edit your documents on the go, after all! However, it comes with its own risks. Accessing your personal data on a public network makes you a prime target for hackers, who can steal your passwords and even access sensitive profiles like your bank account.
Never turning it off
Everything needs a break every now and then – including your PC. Don’t just close your laptop lid and slip it into standby mode, click on ‘shut down’ from the menu and allow it to have a proper rest. This way, your computer will last for years to come.
Using unknown flash drives
Never use flash drives that you don’t trust. They can be littered with malware, resulting in all of your data becoming corrupted. An easy rule of thumb is to only plug in devices into your computer that you bought yourself. This way, you’ll never have to worry about your data being suddenly erased.
Filling up your hard drive
You need to be mindful of how full your hard drive is before you even get an error message. The more stuff that’s rammed into your computer’s memory, the slower your system will run. Frequently move things to the recycle bin – ensuring that you also empty it – for a faster, smoother performance.
Not using a surge protector
Surge protectors are vitally important. These handy devices prevent sudden surges of volts from pulsing through all of your plugged-in electricals. Not only can they save your devices from being zapped and ruined, but they can also save lives, preventing any sudden electrical fires.
Leaving your webcam open to attacks
Webcams are a great way of connecting us with friends and family all around the world. However, they can also be used with malicious intent, with hackers breaking into the devices to spy on you. The easiest way to protect yourself is to cover up the camera when it’s not in use, keeping prying eyes at bay.
Answering phishing emails
Email scams are by far the most convincing. Millions of phishing emails are sent out each and every day, claiming that you need to reset your password, that your package wasn’t delivered, or that you need to reactivate your account. Exercise extreme caution when clicking on any link in an email, checking the sender’s address thoroughly for signs of ill-intent.
Clicking on strange links
As anti-virus software becomes smarter, so do hackers. Instead of relying on you clicking strange links on random webpages, they can now hack your friends’ social media accounts and get them to send you harmful links directly. Even if the message is from a trusted friend, you should still exercise caution while being online.
Not using a laptop case
Don’t spend out hundreds of dollars on a laptop without buying something to protect it! Even if your laptop primarily stays at home, you need something to protect it from knocks, bumps, dust, scratches, and spillages. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.
Clicking ‘OK’ without reading the text
It can be tempting to blindly agree to every single thing that pops up on your screen, impatient to get to your destination. However, you should take a moment to read the small print. Sometimes, you’re signing yourself up to irritating mailing lists, or you’re consenting that websites can sell your data for profit.
Signing up to push notifications
Push notifications send you constant alerts whenever a page posts a new update. These can be confusing, particularly if you’ve accidentally signed up for them from multiple sources. To remove them, go into your computer’s settings, where you’ll be able to disable them individually.
Not shutting your PC down properly
Unless your computer has completely frozen, you should never force it into a hard shut down. This is when you press and hold down the off button until it shuts down, resulting in the PC instantly switching off. Not only can this ruin your data, it can also result in your computer’s hardware becoming corrupted, leading to issues further down the line.
Trying to unsubscribe from spam emails
Sometimes, spam emails will have an image which – at first – seems as though it’ll enable you to unsubscribe from their listings. In fact, this is a scam. It’ll either take you to a website that’s filled with viruses, or it’ll begin an automatic download that can wreak havoc on your PC.
Forwarding chain mail
Don’t fall prey to chain mail scams that litter your email inbox. Not only are they pointless, but they use fear to encourage their circulation. Forwarding these emails then puts your friends and family at risk – particularly if they belong to the older demographic.
Not cleaning your computer
Just as you should give your computer a digital clean, you should also clean it physically. Get some screen spray to keep everything nice and fresh, and then clean your mouse and keyboard. You’d be surprised at how much dirt and grime manages to nestle its way in between each groove.
Using weak passwords
Nowadays, you need to make sure that your passwords are unbreakable. Instead of simply using your maiden name, you need to ensure that your password is filled with numbers and punctuation marks. The more complicated your password is, the harder it’ll be for hackers to break into your account.
Leaving Facebook logged in
If you use Facebook on a public PC – such as computers at the Apple Store or on shared devices – you’re putting yourself at risk. Every time you log into Facebook (or any personal account, for that matter) that isn’t on one of your own devices, ensure that you log out.
Accepting strange friend requests
Strangers who add you on Facebook aren’t looking to become your new best bud. The majority of the time, these so-called ‘friends’ are scammers, looking to engage in conversation with you before asking for your bank details. If you don’t know who they are, don’t accept their friend request.
Pushing your PC to its breaking point
There’s no point throwing your hands up in frustration at your PC’s slow speed if you haven’t taken care of it. Run some diagnostics, do some defragmentations, and delete any unnecessary files. This way, you’ll give your computer a chance to run more effectively.
Storing backups in a single location
Backing up your data is vitally important, preventing hours of work being lost. However, you want to back it up in more ways than one. If you’ve backed it up on a USB device, for example, you also want to upload it to an online server. This way, in the event of a fire, you’ll still be able to retrieve all of your hard work.
Accepting strange downloads
Some websites will automatically begin a download when you arrive on their page. If this happens, immediately cancel it. If you purposely didn’t choose to download anything, it shouldn’t be on your computer. Ensure you run a virus check immediately after the event occurs, keeping your data safe.
Downloading dodgy software
Only click on download buttons from sites you truly trust. Otherwise, your computer will quickly become littered with harmful malware and viruses. Sometimes, malware can be hidden behind download links that are actually just images, serving no purpose other than to infect your PC.
Not buying new tech
Eventually, everything comes to an end – even technology. If you’ve been using the same computer for the past two decades, it’s time to break the bank and purchase some new tech. Failure to do so will result in a sluggish PC that won’t work to the best of its ability.