10 Useful Computer Tips
10. To really delete and NOT to recycle, press shift + del
This bypasses the recycle bin if you are trying to delete a file, or the trash folder if you are deleting an e-mail. There is no chance of recovering whatever it is you are deleting.
9. Add/Remove programs should be used mainly to remove
If you select “Start” then “Settings” then “Control Panel” then “Add/Remove Programs”, you will see a list of software programs that Windows thinks you have installed.
If your computer has a lot of programs, scroll through the programs, and make 3 lists:
- The Keep List: what you use and must have.
- The Toss List: what you are certain you don’t want and need.
- The Unknown List: everything else that you don’t recognize.
Check with others who use the computer to ensure that the lists are accurate, and to move items from the Unknown list. Then remove everything on the Toss list.
8. Dragging an icon to the recycle bin only removes the shortcut.
The shortcut, or alias, is indicated by a little arrow in the bottom left corner of an icon. Dragging an icon to the recycle bin does not remove the program, and all its files, to the recycle bin — it only removes the shortcut, which results in less visual clutter on the desktop! Feel free to send as many shortcuts as desired to the recycle bin. (But review the point 10.)
7. Viruses and the like
Viruses and spyware are all a fact of computer life. You should have paid security software, such as Malwarebytes (from malwarebytes.com), and you should be able to answer 3 questions about it: a) how to tell if it is running; b) when was the last time it did an update; c) how to see if it is configured for automatically scanning the entire computer and removing malicious items automatically.
6. E-mail pointers
- Deleting emails by pressing shift + del means they are PERMANENTLY deleted.
- Do NOT allow your e-mail program to “preview” a message. For most e-mail programs, this is configurable. Changing it could mean the difference between a working, usable computer…and not.
- Be wary of unexpected or unsolicited e-mails with attachments, or that point you to web sites, even if they look like they’re from your spouse! I cannot emphasize enough: Pick up the phone and make the call to the sender. If the e-mail is transmitting a virus, the sender may be overloaded with thousands of e-mail messages and cannot possibly reply to yours. You will have a much better chance of getting through by phone.
5. Delete the “temporary” Internet files
Your browser settings allow you to delete cookies and temporary (or cached) files. Learn what your options are for your primary and secondary browsers.
Do you use a password manager program, such as LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password? If so, do you have its password recorded somewhere your spouse, executor, power of attorney can find it?
Do you rely upon your browser to remember your passwords? If so, find out how to see those passwords! Make sure they’re accurate, delete the ones you don’t need, configure the browser to not remember passwords for certain sites. Review your passwords – don’t reuse the same ones! Do make them varied, and as complex as possible.
It is guaranteed that if you keep your computer long enough, a major part of it will fail. If you are lucky, the failure will not be your hard disk. But if you are not lucky, then you are looking at recreating your data. How much time will it take you to recreate your information – such as your address book? Your contacts? Your spreadsheets? Your business templates? Your photographs? Your thesis? The e-mails that you really really really need?
Simple rule: Backup anything that you are not willing to lose or to recreate.
Where can you backup your information? 2 practical choices: an external hard drive, and an online backup service (such as BackBlaze, SOSonlinebackup, Carbonite). Always do the former! Know how to restore from the backup, and know how check its status. You never want to find out that your backup hasn’t been working – Murphy’s Law, right? If you already store what you care about in the cloud (by using, for example, Google Drive), then online backup services become optional.
2. To buy, or not to buy?
Delay the purchase of a new computer if the current one accomplishes what you want in a reasonable time and there is no pressing need. If the computer is “slow,” have you already asked for help to consider that there my be a problem with it that could be fixed — low disk space, viruses, something that is failing?
You will definitely lose time when you purchase a new computer if you a) have to transfer files over to the new one from the old one, or b) buy new versions of software and discover that your old data files don’t work with it. Also, what will you do with the old one? In many locales, you pay a fee to dispose of them because there are known toxic components to them (especially the computer monitors). Old computers are not necessarily worth much, but if you can donate them, you at least keep them out of a landfill.
General note on purchasing: When buying anything over the Internet, use a credit-card that is reserved exclusively for such purchases, and make sure it has a low credit limit on it.
1. Keep the peace and save the marriage
Hire someone to train the spouse about everything written above!