13 Things Your Computer Person Won’t Tell You

Expert share their best computer tips -- from how to protect your PC to how to fix common problems.

from Reader's Digest

     

  • 1.

    Turn it off, turn it back on.

    “Nine times out of ten, rebooting your computer-and any equipment that connects to it-will solve the problem,” says Aaron Schildkraut, who owns a home tech-support service in the New York tristate area.

  • 2.

    Just because we're “buddies” at work,

    don’t expect me to come running every time you’ve got a problem. I’ve got a slew of IT problems to fix.

  • 3.

    We're like Santa: We know if you've been bad or good.

    Fessing up to what really happened right before the system crashed is going to save time-and I’m going to figure it out anyway.


  • 13 Things Your Computer Person Won’t Tell You

  • 4.

    Use “strong” passwords.

    Geek Squad agent Derek Meister suggests combining letters and numbers-but not your birth date-to create a “base” password, and adding a unique suffix for each site you use. If your base password is your spouse’s initials and your anniversary date (say, SP061789), your Amazon password might be “SP061789AM.”

  • 5.

    Make sure you have current antivirus and anti-spyware protection,

      and set it to update at least once a day and run a full-system scan at least once a week.

  • 6.

    There's no free lunch.

    Downloading free music, movies, and games from file-sharing sites can open holes in your system for others to exploit. Play it safe and use established services like Rhapsody, iTunes, and Netflix.

  • 7.

    Remember: Public Wi-Fi is public.

    If you don’t have a compelling reason to check your e-mail or bank account while sipping a latte at the mall, don’t do it. While you’re on a public network, even one that’s encrypted, a nearby hacker can capture your passwords.

  • 8.

    Give it a rest.

    Turning off your computer when it’s not in use saves energy and clears out the RAM, or temporary memory, which would otherwise slow your machine over time.

  • 9.

    If you can't get online, call your Internet service provider first.

    Connection problems can often be checked and fixed-free.

  • 10.

    If you want to see less of me, get a Mac.

    That’s what we use. “Macs are actually a little bad for my business,” says Schildkraut.

  • 11.

    No, you can't use your cell phone to pop popcorn.

    Next time an Internet rumor drops into your inbox, don’t just pass it on-check it out at snopes.com first.

  • 12.

    Sometimes we talk about you--in code.

    If you hear “HKI error” (for human-keyboard interface) or “PEBCAK” (problem exists between chair and keyboard), we’re insulting you.

  • 13.

    If you don't understand me, I'm not doing my job.

    Confusing tech jargon is a sign of insecurity, not intelligence.


  • –Interviews by Adam Bluestein. Sources: Derek Meister, Geek Squad; Aaron Schildkraut, myhometech.net; anonymous posters on TechRepublic.com; techcomedy.com.

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