We all use computers in one capacity or another, but that doesn't mean we're all adept at taking care of them. There are things we do time and time again that make it difficult to keep our machines in tip-top shape — like not running virus protection software or leaving tons of tabs open online so your performance is eventually dragged down.
We can't always prevent computers from malfunctioning, but we can ensure we're not actively harming them. This doesn't mean you should just stop using your computer regularly or change what you're doing with it if you use it for a specific type of job. You just need to be more aware.
There are a number of things you may be doing right now to ensure you're fast-tracking your way to certain doom — in terms of your computer, anyway. We've assembled some useful tips to keep you from continually committing Windows faux pas.
1. You don't use or update your antivirus software
Using the internet can be risky if you're not properly protected. Using good antivirus or anti-malware software is an important part of making sure you're doing your part to keep your Windows PC safe.
If you're setting up a new computer and plan on taking it online, you need to make sure to install decent software with a valid subscription (or a free version if you prefer.) It's not enough to just install antivirus software, though. You need to make sure you update it regularly and also use it for regular scans, too.
If you don't keep your virus software updated, you may as well invite viruses and malware in to play. Don't give bad actors an easy in when it comes to your computer.
2. You use weak or easy-to-guess passwords
If you've set your cat's name as the password for your desktop or list your favorite food for your banking software, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Suppose you accidentally leave your Windows laptop somewhere. Those passwords are painfully easy to guess, especially for anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about you.
If you want to eliminate the possibility of someone guessing your password, and gain access to all of your important files, you're going to want to start using much harder-to-guess passwords. Plain and simple.
3. You never defrag your hard drive
Defragmenting a hard drive (if you have a traditional one and not a solid state version, anyway) is an important step if you want to make sure your computer remains efficient and running the way it should.
Fragmentation ends up happening when your computer saves data in all kinds of different sectors. When this happens, it can be difficult for your computer to perform in the same way later on. It's important to perform frequent defragmentation tasks here and there to ensure you're on top of things and your computer continues to run admirably.
4. You aren't paying attention to software updates
Software becomes outdated. It's a fact of life. You can't assume the software that works fine now is going to remain doing so for the rest of the time you use your computer. With that in mind, you need to actually pay attention and accept the warnings that pop up on your computer that tell you there are critical updates that need to be completed.
Instead of ignoring them, make sure you actually do the things they're asking of you. Update regularly and you'll be protected against a litany of vulnerabilities that may otherwise crop up and could put you in a world of hurt.
5. You never clean up your computer or delete old files
No matter what the purpose of your computer is, whether you use it for work or play, you've likely filled up your hard drive with all types of files. Many people just let these files pile up until there's no space left at all. This is a bad idea – you're using space you could be allocated elsewhere, keeping things cluttered and ensuring you're running a system that isn't as efficient as it could be.
You should be cleaning up files from time-to-time to free up memory for better system performance, as well as to keep things tidy in general. There's really no reason to be a hoarder, after all.
6. You'll download just about anything
We all go online and see advertisements for plenty of stuff, right? A lot of it might even sound legit. But if you don't know where a piece of software comes from, you shouldn't be downloading it.
Bottom line: Downloading anything will almost certainly end in frustration, as you could be unwittingly inviting viruses, malware or other dangerous software onto your computer. You never know what kind of nefarious purposes unknown downloads may hold. Be smart about whatever it is you're downloading and only use software gleaned from the proper channels.
7. You let your PC get physically dirty
It's one thing to let files pile up on your computer's hard drive, but letting the computer's components get physically filthy is another story indeed.
Computer fans collect dust, keyboards collect grime and PCs aren't running well or optimally with either one of these issues going on. You could potentially cause your computer to overheat or improperly function if you're not cleaning it regularly. This is a pretty easy problem to remedy, but you'll have to stay on top of things if you want to prevent it.
8. You never clear your browser's cache or cookies
You've probably heard about this process before but you never actually do it. Clearing a browser's cache and cookies is a quick and simple maintenance step you can do in the blink of an eye.
Getting rid of needless files and clutter that comes from using the internet can speed things up considerably. Many people have a vague idea of what this entails, but don't actually go through with doing it. Make sure you're cleaning up your computer's files on a regular basis.
Now that you have an inkling of ways you could be damaging your computer, you can start down the path of trying to make it better. Just be careful not to slip back into your old habits in the future once you've been reformed, so to speak.
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