10 Things Every Windows PC User Should Know
Think of your computer as a car. If you just drive your car around without servicing and maintaining it, it will eventually slow down, break down and perhaps even melt down. In the same way, you need to take care of your computer and the data you store on it.
You might consider yourself tech-savvy and knowledgeable in the ways of the PC, but we're sure everyone could benefit from the points listed below. Make sure to share this list with your friends and relatives, as it could save them countless hours of PC-related headaches, and it might even save you hours of solving their computer woes.
Change passwords constantly, and don't use the same password for different online accounts
There is a lot of malicious spyware on the Internet that could easily crack your passwords and get access to your personal information. To protect yourself, constantly change your online as well as your offline passwords, and make sure never to store your passwords in plain-text on your PC, or even in post-it notes by your computer monitor. In addition, never save your passwords on the web or share them with anyone. We recommend storing passwords in secure, encrypted password software like Keepass. It will make your life a lot easier.
Partition your hard disk
Remember the proverbial guy that put all his eggs in one basket? Well, let's just say it didn't end very well. It's not enough to simply install your operating system. You need to partition your hard disk as well. Ideally, the Operating System should be in one partition and your other data in another. That way, if you have to re-install the OS for whatever reason, you wont lose any data in the process.
Protect your computer with anti-virus software
When your computer has access to the internet (and if you're reading this, it does), it is automatically vulnerable to the countless viruses, trojans, and malware programs plaguing the net. Your PC can easily get infected when downloading or installing a file, or even just by visiting a malicious website. To keep your PC safe (or as safe as possible), invest some time in finding, installing, and constantly updating an anti-virus program you trust. There are some good free ones like avast! and AVG.
Backup your data often with an automated backup system
When it comes to computers, there are a few inalienable truths: Hard disks will malfunction, viruses will destroy important data, and human error will leave you reeling in agony. Although sometimes tedious, always backup your work. This could be in the form of an auxiliary storage device like an external hard-drive, or you might even decide to save your sensitive data to the cloud.
Automate the backup process to an external device using programs like Windows Backup or Apple's Time Machine. For those looking for a little more peace of mind (since an office fire can take out your PC and external devices), we recommend using a cloud-based backup plan, of which there are plenty to choose from.
Master keyboard shortcuts
Whoever said there is no shortcut to any place worth going was clearly not talking about computing. Keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time, increase efficiency, and even give you an advantage in the workplace. Learn as many as you can.
Recover lost files
I still remember the first time I deleted a word document I had been working on for at least four days. I was horrified! I simply couldn't come to terms with the fact that four full days of work had just gone into the trash. That's when I realized how right I was. The file had gone into Window's recycle bin, where it was waiting for me to simply hit “restore” to bring the file back from its grave.
Of course, sometimes even the recycle bin can't help you, especially if you shift-delete a particular file, which bypasses the recycle bin completely. There's nothing to worry, though – all is still not lost! When your computer deletes a file, it doesn't actually delete it at all. All that really happens is that the file is “marked” for deletion, meaning that when the computer needs the disk space being occupied by the file, it won't hesitate to use it.
Read error messages – they're there for a reason!
This one's got us so riled up we even added an exclamation mark for emphasis. When your PC is acting up, when programs suddenly decide to close by themselves, or when other strange behavior occurs, a dialog box will usually pop up with information that can help you fix the problem. Don't just click it away – read it and follow the instructions. You could even copy the error message into Google search to find a plethora of information, asked and answered questions on the topic. Be your own IT expert!
Learn to use your Windows Task Manager
Often when your PC has decided to start working super slowly, or not at all, the problem lies in your open programs using up too much memory or computer processing power. When your PC uses more RAM memory then it has, it starts using virtual memory or paging, essentially trading speed for more memory. Since you probably have many unneeded programs running in the background, its best to shut them down and free up some of that precious memory.
First hit CTRL+Shift+Escape to open the task manager. On the bottom bar of the window you'll see your CPU usage and physical memory usage, and be able to deduce what resources your computer is in need of.
Take a look at your running applications under the applications tab, but what's more interesting is the running processes, which are programs running in the background which you don't necessarily know about. Click the “memory” column to sort the processes by memory consumption, and highlight the one you'd like to remove, then click “End Process”. Remove processes with caution, as some of them are essential for your computer to run properly. If you don't know what a process does, DO NOT remove it.