In today’s world, computers have become integrated into nearly every aspect of life, from entertainment and education to finances and even relationships. While we’ve yet to reach a futuristic reality where our devices have literally become appendages, when it comes to characterizing the role computers play in our everyday lives, a term like “sidekick” may be apropos—after all, does a day go by that we don’t spend time on our computers? And how many of us never leave the house without our smartphones, laptops or tablets? You might start to think of your devices as programmable pals, binary buddies, computerized companions…you get the idea.
Considering the pivotal position they inhabit, it seems only fitting that our computers should receive the utmost care; and yet, we tend to forget that they, like ourselves, have needs and vulnerabilities that require ongoing support. To keep your computer happy and healthy, as well as avoid common pitfalls like malware and data loss, consider the following tips:
Even hardware needs a soft touch. When it comes to your computer’s physical components, take Otis Redding’s advice and try a little tenderness. Better yet, take the advice of Oliver Rowen, executive vice president of ClickAway, a Diamond Certified company. “Most computer users are unaware of the delicacy of these moving parts,” he says. “Whether you’re using a laptop or an external hard drive, you should avoid moving or jostling it while in use. Whenever a device’s internal disc is spinning, there’s a potential for damage to occur from something as simple as accidentally bumping it or setting it down too hard.”
Everyone needs to vent once in a while, and your computer is no exception. Dust exists in any home or office, but few people realize it can put their computers at risk. “A computer’s cooling vent is similar to the radiator on a car’s engine, which, when blocked, can cause the engine to overheat,” explains Mr. Rowen. “Likewise, when dust collects in a computer’s cooling vent, it can overheat the processor and other components.” To avoid this, regularly clean your computer’s cooling vent using compressed air or a similar product.
With computers, viruses aren’t just a seasonal concern. When your computer is out of commission, it often puts you out of commission as well, especially if you telecommute for work. To protect your device from viruses and similar high-tech health hazards, you’ll need to take some proactive steps, starting with the installation of a good antivirus program. Remember that antivirus protection isn’t a one-time affair—you’ll need to renew it on an ongoing (usually annual) basis.
Another critical preventative measure is to exercise good judgement while online. One of the most common ways computer security gets compromised is when users click on dubious links (beware of free offers from anonymous sources) or visit file sharing sites to illegally download copyrighted materials. One way to assess the veracity of an emailed link is to hover your cursor over it, which will prompt a pop-up box that shows the link’s URL (aka web address). If the URL doesn’t contain a pertinent domain name, it may not be safe to click. If you feel compelled to open an unfamiliar link, do it on your smartphone, as computer viruses don’t usually work on phones.
If your computer becomes infected by a virus or malware, don’t attempt to fix the problem yourself—you may inadvertently make things worse. Instead, take your device to a computer service specialist.
Always with the updates… A common complaint from computer users is the constant influx of update notifications they receive. Some users will ignore and even disable these notifications, but, as Mr. Rowen explains, this can lead to diminished performance and even safety risks. “There are some really important updates that, if not completed, can leave your computer vulnerable to viruses and malware,” he says. “If you don’t want to deal with updates, regularly bring your computer to a professional service technician, who will make sure your operating system, antivirus and other programs are current.”
Take the pressure off your device by backing up your data. We use our computers to store everything from music and movies to irreplaceable items like family photos, yet we seldom consider what will happen to these in the event of a system crash or theft. “The number one way consumers negatively affect their lives in terms of their computers is by not backing up their data,” says Mr. Rowen. “Whether dragging and dropping files onto an external drive or using a more sophisticated option like automated cloud storage, backing up your data can help you avoid a lot of potential grief.” It can also help you avoid a high expense, as data recovery can be a costly service. In any case, it’s worthwhile to invest in some means of data backup. If you’re using an external hard drive or similar device, make sure to store it in a safe place like a fireproof box.
To find a Diamond Certified computer service or data recovery company in your area, click on one of the links below.
Alameda County: Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Contra Costa County: Computer Service and Repair, Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Marin County: Mobile Device – Sales & Service
San Francisco: Computer – Data Recovery, Mobile Device – Sales & Service
San Mateo County: Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Santa Clara County: Computer – Data Recovery, Computer Service & Repair, Mobile Device – Sales & Service
Santa Cruz County: Computer Service & Repair
Solano County: Computer Service & Repair
Images courtesy of Jay Unplugged.