28 pieces of computing advice that stand the test of time

Here are the best pieces of computing advice we've ever heard. Useful information never goes out of style.

By Mark Sullivan, PC World |  IT Management, Computing tips

Keep your software up-to-date

The message windows reminding you to update your software can get annoying, but its a good idea to stop what youre doing and click the 'Update now' button. You'll get the all the functionality the software has to offer, and you'll also obtain vital security patches that can protect your system from software crashes and data loss.

Use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse tray

You might not realize how much time you spend at your desk. Hours can fly by when youre in the zone, and those hours of typing and mousing add up. Carpal-tunnel syndrome and other repetitive-stress injuries are a real risk for the information workers of today, and they can cost you dearly in pain and missed work. A small investment in adjustable, ergonomic keyboard and mouse trays, coupled with some research on correct positioning, can save you a lot of trouble.

Encrypt sensitive stuff

Encrypt any file you wouldn't want to share with a thief, including email. My program of choice: TrueCrypt. But don't bother to encrypt the entire drive. Just create a TrueCrypt volume and keep your sensitive files there.

Label your power bricks

Every time you buy a new device, you wind up with a new power adapter. They collect under desks, behind PCs, and in boxes in the closet. It's almost as if they're breeding. Its easy to lose track of which one goes to which device, and its possible to harm your gear by using the wrong power cable. So the first thing you should do after buying new gear is to label the power brick, permanently pairing it with the right device.

Hide those cables

The tangled mess of cables and wires under your desk will only get worse and worseand you wont realize how much it bugs you until you finally clean it all up. You can bundle groups of wires by running them through toilet paper tubes, or binding them with pipe cleaners or small bands of velcro, and then use binder clips to tie the bundled wires to the underside of your desk, or any place where theyre out of sight.

Stay wired when you want to connect

Wired ethernet will always be faster and more reliable than wireless networking. If you regularly do something (for work or play) on your home computer that relies on a constant Web connection, you may be better off using a wired internet connection. Wired connections are capable of far faster data speeds and are simply not subject to the many factors that can disrupt a wireless connection.

Put your router in the middle

Position your wireless router as close as you can to the center of your home. This action can help ensure that all the wireless devices in your home are within range of the access point. Youll also find that the signals coming from your router are more likely to reach their destination if the antenna is elevated off the floor a few feet.

Stop thieves

People store gigabytes of vital information on their portable devices, yet they rarely think about protecting their devices from theft. One of the best things you can do is to install a GPS-enabled antitheft program on your laptop, tablet, or phone. If your device goes missing, the software will lock the OS, report the device's location to you via GPS, and in some cases even capture and send some photos of the thief.

Investigate crashes

If your PC seems to crash frequently, the Windows Reliability Monitor (Control Panel > System and Security > Action Center > Reliability Monitor) can help isolate the cause. The utility keeps track of all hardware and software crashes and warnings, organizing them by date. By clicking on one, you can see the full details of what happened.

For gamers: Update your drivers

Confirm whether you have the latest drivers for your PC's graphics and sound hardware. Game developers create their titles using the latest features and functionality in graphics cards. If youre using older drivers, your graphics card might not be up to the task of rendering the game properly on screen.

Take a screenshot

Save a screenshot (or snap a photo and save it to Evernote) of every weird problem or crash you see. Having an image can help immensely if the problem becomes chronic and you need assistance in fixing it.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication simply means that logging in to a given service requires two separate forms of authentication: something you know (such as a password) and something you own, typically your smartphone. For example, you can enable two-factor authentication for your Gmail account. Doing so will require you to have your smartphone nearby every time you try to log in to your account so that the service can send you a unique alphanumeric code via SMS, but the arrangement makes it much more difficult for hackers to break into your account.

Change your router's default SSID

The easiest thing you can do to improve the security of your wireless network is to change both the login and the password for your router to unique alphanumeric phrases that only you know. Since finding the default login and password for almost every router on the market is child's play online, leaving your router at the defaults allows anyone to gain access to the wireless network in your home or small business.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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