10 Things Every Computer User Should Know

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Even if you’ve been using a computer for years, you may not consider yourself completely tech-savvy and there’s a lot of useful information you may not know that could save you a lot of aggravation or prove to be just plain useful.

Let’s look at 10 things every computer user should know.

Understand How Your Network Functions

Become familiar with routers, modems and the other equipment that makes up your network, what their purpose is and how to fix them, if needs be. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Ask a tech-savvy person to go over things with you.

Secure Your Personal Information

Keep your private info private by removing personal information from pictures and other files, using strong passwords and never using public Wi-Fi networks without protection.

Find Lost or Stolen Laptops

The best solution is to make sure your tech doesn’t get lost or stolen in the first place, but things do go missing. To help you find them again, you can set up safeguards. Apps like Prey can track almost any laptop or smartphone that’s disappeared.

Share a File between Two Computers

It’s easy to transfer a file between two computers over your wireless (or wired) network. Here’s how:

  • First, enable file sharing on your computer and then you can use one of the following methods to transfer large files.
  • An Ad-Hoc Wireless Network (aka IBSS – independent basic service set)
  • Over a FireWire or Crossover Cable
  • A cabled connection (fastest)

Perform Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance will keep your computer running as it should. It’s important to run all Windows updates and restart your computer, as necessary. Run antivirus software, back up your hard drive, clear out temporary files and uninstall programs you’re no longer using.

For a Mac, much of the maintenance is the same as you would do for a PC. Install all regular updates and backup your hard drive. Apple’s Time Machine backup programme is built-in to the computer and works well. It’s also suggested that you run the built-in Disk Utility to scan your drive for errors and repair disk permissions. Avoid problems by running this utility every two to three months.

Use Your Home Computer from Anywhere

Using an app like Team Viewer, you can log onto your home computer from another machine and use it as if you were at home.

Avoid Unwanted Programs

In the world of Windows, unnecessary programs can end up on your system without you even knowing how they got there, but it is possible to remove these annoyances and avoid them in the future. There are two types: pre-installed and the ones you inadvertently pick up while browsing the Internet.

Remove pre-installed software that you don’t want or need by removing them manually or use an App like Decrap to automatically scan and give you a list of installed software. You just check off the ones you want removed and they’re instantly gone. The final way to get rid of unwanted software is to simply reinstall Windows from scratch.

To remove toolbars and other unwanted programmes that you inadvertently picked up from the Internet, remove them manually or use an automatic program like AdwCleaner.

To avoid unwanted programmes in the future:

  • Whenever possible, download programs from their home page. Many download sites create their own installers with bundled programmes, even if the original download didn’t have it.
  • Look for checkboxes on the download page. Sometimes the option to avoid an unwanted programme may be on the download page of the app itself.
  • Don’t click “next” without carefully reading every page of the installation wizard
  • Never choose automatic install. Custom install will almost always offer you the opportunity to decline unwanted programmes.
  • Read every checkbox and uncheck anything that wants you to install something you didn’t ask for.
  • Don’t click every "Agree." If the "terms" are for a program other than the one you downloaded, you can click "Decline" and continue the installation.
  • Watch out for bundled apps or multiple offers for the same toolbar in the same installer.

Protect Your Computer from Viruses

Common sense is the best way to avoid viruses. Don’t open suspicious links, install programs from untrusted sources or heed a pop-up window that says your computer’s infected unless it’s actually your antivirus software saying it. Install some good, free antivirus software such as Avast or Bitdefender.

Use Shortcuts

Here are six computer shortcuts that will help you get things done faster:

  • Ctrl+F – finds a specific word you’re looking for on a page
  • Ctrl+S – instantly saves the file you’re working on
  • Ctrl+P – will print your file
  • Ctrl+T – opens a new tab in your web browser
  • Ctrl+N – opens a new window in a web browser or a new document in a word processor
  • Alt-F4 – is the keyboard shortcut for quitting the current application

Back it Up

You can back up your computer to an external drive or you can use an online service like CrashPlan. Your data will backup no matter where you are and remain safe no matter what happens to your hardware.

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