Computer is an incredibly useful device, perhaps one of the biggest inventions by mankind till now. But to get the most out of it is somewhat difficult. Over the past few years, we have become habituated to do a few things that we think are right, but technically speaking are not.

While some of the conceptions we follow are outdated, there are ample of them which have come to existence due to our laziness. Whatever excuse we use to back our slip-up, if not corrected these things could cause a serious harm to us. This article is all about making you aware of those silly mistakes.

Over defragmentation


You read an article about defragmentation and learnt how important it is to defragment your hard-drive. But apparently some people have taken that advice a bit too seriously. So seriously that they are rearranging the files of their hard-drive every other day.

Problem with that conception is that it’s sort of outdated. A few years ago, when the processors used to be less powerful, OS(s) were less polished and hard-drive weren’t sporting so much storage space, computer experts found defragmenting a very useful trick to speed up our systems. Things obviously have changed now. You have ample amount of space left on your disk, the read and write speed of the hard-drive have improved by miles, so even if you defragment your drive, you will see minimal improvement, if at all.

Add SSD to this conversation, and it is not only not going to help your drive become any faster, it might shorten its life span as well.

Using pre-installed free goodies your computer came up with

Who doesn’t like free stuff? You bought a new laptop, and look what you are getting for free : a one year license of this cool Anti-Virus, access to I-have-never-heard-of-this-app-store-before for free, and a very nice media player. Can life be any better? Oh yes, how about you remove those junk. Your computer manufacturer, or guys from your laptop store in order to make a few more bucks, offered you some software that is eventually going to play cruel in the long run. The best course of action here is to remove that Anti-Virus, and everything with other than “Microsoft Corporation” listed in the publisher tab. Do not settle for mediocre products, and buy a good Anti-Virus security suite.

Not restarting the system


There is this popular show called The IT Crowd, where one of the leading characters, Roy, who is in the IT support team, for any question thrown at him, first asks whether the user has tried to turn their computer off and on again. Pun aside, there is a very sound explanation behind this advice. In IT companies, people don’t usually turn off their system at all. At the time of leaving, they just turn off the monitor and run to their homes. This computer then goes on running for weeks and even months without any break. This, as one would expect, causes the system to lag and not perform efficiently. A mere restart can produce wonder improvements.

On a side note, if you usually hibernate your computer instead of shutting it down, the same problem may arise for you.

Pirating OS, Anti-Virus, and other essential software


We all have that one friend who doesn’t hesitate to download things from illegitimate sources. Now, here is some wisdom you should pass on to such freeloader: Do NOT pirate your daily use things. In a world where companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google whose products we use and rely up on to do our everyday work break our trust, how can you be so sure the guy who “cracked” their OS hasn’t left behind some key-logging software, which presumably sends over everything you type to criminals? This explanation holds true for other essential software such as Anti-Virus, password management utilities and web-browsers as well.

Never download any library or other system files from an unreliable source either.

Obsession with adding RAMs

We all know that adding RAM helps boost the computer become swifter. But at the same time, there is no guarantee that you will find significant improvements. Before buying and upgrading your RAM, first you need to know if your computer can really make use of that additional RAM, and whether you need more of it. Unless you are doing heavy video editing, or using a software that really requires too much of RAM usage, odds are that your computer isn’t using the existing ones to its full limit either. May be a hard-drive with higher RPM rating, or a powerful processor might do the trick.

Registry cleaning apps don’t speed up your computer

Despite what its advertisement says, a registry cleaning app doesn’t speed up your computer. In fact, it can make things worse. No matter how many apps you have had installed on your computer, their entries in the registry aren’t something which is making your computer slow, or clotting enough of your hard-drive space. Hence your computer isn’t going to get benefited from such cleaning apps.

Installing things with default options


There was a time, long ago when you used to get what you had paid for. Fast forward to 2013, and almost every software bundles toolbars, “free cool software”, and everything you would’ve avoided otherwise. The free application will add its bit to your stress level, and the toolbar will generally change your homepage from Google to either any competitive search engine, or a customized Google powered search engine. In addition, the software may also modify system settings to make changes to your preferred software for specific tasks.

Running multiple Anti-Virus

It is no secret that none of the Anti-Virus suites is perfect. Thanks to numerous studies who always come up with a new Best Anti-Virus, people wearily buy and install more than one Anti-Virus suite to protect their systems. There are many loopholes going with this rationale. To begin with, first of all the suites will consume most of the system resources. Other problem is with the way these security software work. Different Anti-Virus suite may use different algorithm and virus detection techniques to find and get rid of the threats. Hence when there are many security suites running on your system simultaneously, there may arise conflicts between them. Many a times, one security suite will claim the files of other security suite as a threat.

A word of advice would be to have only one Anti-Virus on your computer. You can though, to elevate the security, if you have another OS running on your system use any other Anti-Virus on it. Also, you can keep switching between Anti-Virus suites, too.

Clicking on Pop-ups, blindly visiting every link your find in emails


Like in the real life, there are bad people on the internet as well. Don’t click on every glitzy advertisement you see on the web, especially if the website you are visiting isn’t very reliable. There are hundreds of thousands new malware cropping up on the interweb every single day. Things like Phishing has gone mainstream and heck lot of people are falling for it too. Unless you know the sender personally, and the email doesn’t appear odd, never click on the links you find enclosed in those emails.

Not keeping your OS and other software up-to-date


Last but certainly not the least, there is a reason why developers are rolling out new updates periodically. These software updates not only add more features to your software, resolve the bugs, and at times improve the user interface, it also patch the security loopholes – making your software and system more secure.

Noteworthy mentions

There are many, many more things that you might have been doing wrong all this time.

  • Wait for the laptop to fully shut down before you keep that in a bag and go out on the world tour. The hard-disk and other mechanical devices which are still spinning inside might not be able to tolerate the jolting.
  • Back up your data, please. With malware like Cryptolocker running on errands on the web, it is time you take the backup.
  • Don’t keep the charger plugged-in all the time. We have talked about this before and how much it can affect your battery as well as the system. If you are confused on what to do, follow the 30-80 cycle. Let the battery charge up to 80% and then unplug it and let it go down to about 30% of its capacity.
  • Using the password everywhere, and easy to guess security questions – Even you know that this is not really safe. One failure will cascade down your other accounts too. One simple trick is adding a subsequent bit of information on all your passwords. For example, if my password to Gmail account is lumia#random I could add #1 or something like that to all my accounts. Additionally you can also use password management software like KeePass or Lastpass.
  • Connecting to an unsecured Wifi and not changing the default password of your router are also not something you would want to do.
  • In addition, make sure to open the cabinet of your CPU and brush the dust off of the components. Similarly you can pay a visit to a laptop service center, and get it cleaned. While you are there, also ask them if your processor needs a new layer of thermal paste.

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Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.