1) BACKUP YOUR DATA

You may have spent two grand on your computer but that money isn’t ever going to compensate your investment of time on that machine. There are so many ways to backup data now from portable disk drives to internet storage to automated full-system backups. There’s no excuse not to do it and you’ll never be able to live with yourself if the day your computer crashes or your power goes out in the middle of some big project. For those of you with only a few small files there’s usually free methods of backing up your information but for those of you with tons of pictures, music, movies and apps you’ll probably need something more robust.

2) SECURITY IS NOT AN OPTION

You may think that there’s no need for you to have an Anti-Virus program on your computer because you’re using an Apple or a Linux machine or maybe you never connect your computer to the internet. This is a common mistake that people make, or they find the security software on their computer to be too invasive or too costly to renew. Security isn’t an option in this modern era, and never really has been since before the internet was even a commonly used thing. EVERY computer can get a virus or malicious software, and the types of malicious software are more varied than the types of programs out there in the world. If you can’t afford a premium antivirus program, find one of the free ones and then make sure you’re dedicated to backing up your data regularly and don’t lose your software installation media. If you’re capable of paying for security software, make sure your money is well spent and get a program that features a firewall, anti-spyware, a real-time virus scanner and is a fully rounded security suite. Many security programs cause issues when multiple programs are installed and it’s always better to get one program that covers all the bases well rather then several that cover only one. Data backup is another form of security because just like everything else, a security program isn’t a guarantee you’re safe from harm and covering yourself in the eventuality that a virus or malicious program hits your system is always a good practice. Also beware of websites that aren’t well known or outside your home country. Lastly, there are a pesky form of virus out there that mimic your antivirus software – be familiar with the icons of the security programs you use and if you see something down by your clock that’s not familiar, you may have a virus pretending to be a “good guy”.

3) NOTHING LASTS FOREVER

The expression “A good thing never lasts” is a very relevant statement in the computer world. The advancement of computer technologies means that the day your computer first hits the shelves it’s outdated. New components are already scheduled for release when their predecessors are first recognized by the public. You don’t always need the “latest and greatest” but a realistic perspective regarding your computer is that it’s only going to last for a few years. The average computer component is really only “new” for a couple months and is outdated after six. It should be replaced within two to five years, but five years is much longer than most components last. Hard drives start failing after three years or less, power supplies can die in one year and processors die faster or slower depending on how heavily they are used. I get a lot of people saying something like “This is a new computer – I just bought it a couple years ago”. It may be new in some sense of the word, but in the computer world it’s more like an old maid. The most important reasons to upgrade your computers every couple of years are safety, security and functionality. Computers use a lot of electricity and put out heat from their components. Fire becomes a hazard the older your computer gets as the components to keep them cool start to wear out. The older your computer is the more vulnerabilities it can be a victim of as malicious software keeps up with the new technological trends. Last but not least is that software is usually built for the upcoming hardware technology and the older your computer gets the less likely you’ll be able to support the software you’ll need to keep your home or business up to speed.

4) CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GEEKINESS

Cleaning your computer and the area around it is a good thing. Remember that a lot of the components in your computer get hot and draw hundreds of watts worth of power. It only takes one cat hair shorting two components to make an electrical fire or a dead computer. If you have a desktop use canned air or a low-powered air compressor to clean out the inside of the case. Make sure you unplug it first and make sure not to let the nozzle get so close that the cold or moisture doesn’t damage your computer. If you have a pet try and keep them away from your machines. If you have a laptop try and keep the keyboard free of dust and other debris. The fans a computer uses to keep itself cool suck in dust and loose hair or other particles. Make sure they’re not blocked or you’ll have a dead computer or a fire and that your computer is in a cool area, away from the messier parts of your home or business.

5) NO COMPUTERS AT THE DINNER TABLE!

Food, drink and computers sound like a great combo. There’s so many times where you’re waiting for a download, saving a large file, loading a program or patching your software where it’s a good time to eat a snack or sip on your beverage of choice. The downside to this situation is that beverages and food often are sticky and liquid spills especially are a good way to ruin your machine or cause other safety problems like shock or fire. Keep your drinks or food on a different surface than the one your computer is on, and try not to take portable computers to the areas where food is prepared or consumed. Another thing to consider is restrooms, where water is constantly present and moving. The rule of thumb is that wet or sticky is poison to your computer, and you want to keep your “baby” healthy.

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