Simple tips for happier computing

During over a quarter century working with computers and on-line, Dr. File Finder has defined some basic rules for happier computing. Today he shares them with you!
Published: Jun 12, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows

Doc's Rule #1 - When in doubt, REBOOT!

I've found that about 87% of common computer problems can be resolved simply by rebooting your computer. Why? Well, a computer is electronic and it has electrons flowing through it. It has things being loaded and unloaded from memory. Back in 1986, some friends and I started jokingly calling any unknown problem a stuck bit. The cure for this was to reboot. Trust me on this one. It works for many things, from problems with programs, printers, modems, and more.

Doc's Rule #2 - When in doubt, DON'T!

If you're doing anything on a computer and have doubts about whether to proceed or not, listen to those doubts and don't do it. I've found that this philosophy applies to many things in life beyond just computers. If you aren't sure about editing the Registry, or about repartitioning a hard drive, then don't. Wait until you feel more secure.

Doc's Rule #3 - Never download, much less open, ANY file from someone you don't know!

All manner of viruses and worms are transmitted around the world via email. These emails try to entice you into downloading or opening the attached file. Don't do it. You'll only regret it.

Doc's Rule #4 - Don't open emails, or attachments in emails that request strange things, even if the email address says it's from a friend, because it may not be.

I've received emails containing odd requests that said they were fromme. Or from people I know. People I know wouldn't ask such things in an email. An email address can be faked or "spoofed" so it looks like it's coming from someone you know. If you aren't certain, and an email just sounds strange, remember Rule #2. Don't open it.

Doc's Rule #5 - Never click on hyperlinks INSIDE emails that supposedly come from some institution.

Your bank, or PayPal, or any number of legitimate companies willnot send you emails asking for account information, your credit card number, and other personal details. People "spoof" Web sites and they can be very realistic. You'd swear you were on the real site,when in fact you are not. The perpetrators accomplish this by getting you to click on a link in their email to you. This link may look like it's going to http://www.mybank.com, but it's really going to the spoofed site. Remember Rule #2 -- if you're in doubt, don't. Call the institution instead.

Doc's Rule #6 - NEVER get files of any kind from any source that you don't know and/or trust.

Sites like Tucows check every file that we list for viruses,worms, adware, and spyware. So do the other large software sites on the Internet. If a friend tells you to go to some site where you can download Microsoft Word or PhotoShop, don't go. Remember, a big source of viruses is pirated, commercial software. Know the places you download software from.

Doc's Rule #7 - ALWAYS read what you are agreeing to. Always read End User License Agreements (EULA's) and privacy statements completely!

Adware and spyware are often installed on your computer withyour consent. Whether you know it or not, some clause saying it was okay to spy on you was in the EULA and you agreed to it by clicking Yes! It's a pain, and with most established software companies you don't have to worry, but if you don't read the EULA you have nothing to complain about.

Doc's Rule #8 - THINK and READ before you click!

People are creatures of habit. You get used to clicking Yes orNo or OK in response to prompts on your computer. Some use this fact against you because most people don't read carefully. You read what you think it says. Sometimes a prompt is phrased so that by answering "No" you've said yes, and vice versa. So, take the time to read before you click.

Doc's Rule #9 - Have anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer and keep them updated!

Viruses, spyware, and adware are simply a fact-of-life on the Internet today. I wish that wasn't true, but it is. You need to protect yourself from these threats. The only way to do that is to use a good anti-virus program and a good anti-spyware program. The key with both types of products is to keep them updated!

Doc's Rule #10 - If a device or peripheral has been working, and it suddenly stops, check the obvious connections. And check for dust!

If something has worked, and suddenly stops, it may well be something simple. Check every connection. Unplug and then plug in cords and cables again. Dust can be a huge problem for computers. Sometimes all you need to do to fix something is blast it with some compressed air,which you can buy at any office supply store. Cards inside you computer may need to be removed, the slot blown out, and then the card reseated.The same is true of wireless card for laptops. Before calling tech support, check all these things. Sometimes it's something very simple,like a little dust.

Doc's Rule #11 - ALWAYS keep your harddrives defragmented.

Fragmentation is just a fact of life when it comes to hard drives. Or even other types of storage media. Keeping them defragmented means you'll get optimum performance from your hard drive as well as longer life. Your computer will run better and faster.

Doc's Rule #12 - You can never have too much RAM!

Programs run on RAM, or Random Access Memory. Todays programs are bigger and more complex and many require a good deal of RAM. The operating system requires a fair amount of RAM. So, my advice is to make RAM a priority when you're buying a new computer. Before you upgrade the monitor or the graphics card, or even get a faster processor, makesure you have plenty of RAM. You won't be sorry.

Doc's Rule #13 - Use passwords that you can remember, but that others can't guess.

More and more things require passwords. Many sites where you may shop on the Internet will make you create an account. The account has to have a password. I have a system for picking passwords that I've taught to my family. I also wrote an article on it which you can find by clicking right HERE. There are some things you should never use as a password, and these include:

  • Your birthday
  • Your spouses name
  • Your children's names
  • Your own name
  • Your address or zip code
Read the article and get some tips on how to create passwords that you can remember, but that others can't guess.

Doc's Rule #14 - KNOW what your children do on the computer and KNOW where they go online.

The Internet, like the rest of the world, is a wonderful place. You can learn things, find things, communicate, and expand your horizons. But like the rest of the world, it can also be a dangerous place. There arepredators out there that will hunt your children. Make sure you know where they go online, even if it means spying on them with software. Better safe than sorry. Make them aware of the dangers. Tell them to never give out their address, their phone number, or other really personal information.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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