The 25 Worst High-Tech Habits (and How to Fix Them)

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Christopher Null
PC World
Monday, November 1, 2010; 12:19 AM

Good citizens of technological America, this story is not for you.

Today we honor the louts, the Luddites, and the lazy. Everyone has a little techie vice--raise your hand if you have ever used ?password? as a password--but with this outing we're digging a little deeper, calling out the really bad habits that can cause permanent damage to your high-tech psyche.

Without further ado, it?s time to get our hands dirty. We present to you our 25 worst high-tech habits.

1. Avoiding Security Software

So you thought you could get by without antimalware utilities, just by being mindful of what Web links you click and what e-mail you open. How's that working out for ya? Use something--anything--to protect your PC from the bad guys, who are happy to have you as a target. You can even start with free antivirus software.

2. Failing to Back Up Your Computer

The funny thing about people who admit that they don't back up is that they always preface it by saying, "I know it's bad, but..." Listen: All hard drives crash eventually. All of them. Yours will, too. For help, see our simple guide to getting started with backup.

3. Neglecting Offsite Backup

A thief breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop. No problem: You just backed it up last night. Oh, wait, he stole your backup drive too, because it was sitting right next to the laptop. Store your data in multiple locations, with automatic backups scheduled for hard drives kept away from your PC--and make a backup plan to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Tempting as the offer may be, put spammers out of business by ignoring their e-mail.

4. Replying to Spam

Why do spammers do their dirty work? Because enough people respond to it to make sending junk worth their while. Yes, clicking the "remove me" link counts as a response--though on rare occasions, if a message is clearly from a legitimate brand-name company, using that link is worth a try. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. In addition to following this commonsense advice, you can take an extra step to harness the spam-fighting powers of your e-mail service.

5. Traveling With an Operating Computer

Taking your computer from the kitchen to the living room while it's running? No problem. Taking your running PC from the office, on the subway, for a mile-long walk, and up the stairs to your house? Terrible idea. Spinning hard drives can crash, and computers can easily overheat in cramped quarters. Shut the PC down. (Extra demerits if your hot, whirring laptop is sweating it out in a closed briefcase for the entire ride.) Windows offers custom settings for the power button and lets you tell a laptop to power off when you shut the lid.

6. Using a Laptop on a Bed

Use your laptop in bed all you want--it's when you leave the machine running on your goose-down comforter that the problems begin. Fluffy cushions and the like can block ventilation ports, overheating (and ruining) your PC. Use a lap desk or a coffee-table book to keep some airflow between the two. Plus, you can hurt your body if you're typing in an unnatural position, so pay attention to ergonomics.

7. Printing Everything

You already have a digital record--why do you need to print it out? Even forms that require signatures often can accept a "digital" signature that you create in Microsoft Paint. Save completed files as PDFs for even easier transportation and archiving.


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