Favorite Basic Computer Tips

computerAs small business owners, none of us can afford to lose time dealing with computer issues. Arming ourselves with knowledge about our computers and operating systems can go a long way in preventing issues from happening to begin with.

A great place to start learning the basics about your computer and operating system is to sit down and actually read the owners manual and help files.

You may also find some of the very best tips by talking with others about those things that have been helpful for them.

I asked members of the Tech Talk Hideaway to send me their favorite computer tips. The following tips are their responses.

One of the best tips I have learned over the years is to back up my computer onto a CD as often as possibly. You never know when the electricity will surge, the lightning will strike, or the hard drive will just give out. By backing up your saved documents often you will never have to spend hours upon hours recreating everything you lost.

DaNel Resha, Smyrna, TN
Darswinkle’s Delights

It is always important to keep your computer well maintained. One thing the inexperienced computer users forget to do is keep their anti virus program up to date. Anti virus programs are not install and forget programs. They need to be kept up to date! Check the instructions on how to have the program automatically update itself. If it doesn’t have this feature make sure you do a manual update regularly (i.e. at least once a week, more often when there are rumours of viruses going around). Even if the program is set to update automatically it wouldn’t hurt to do a manual update every day or more often when the word is out that a virus is going around.

S. R. Emerson, Canada
Computer Basics

One of my favorite computer tips: When you install a new program, check the options in the program to see if you can disable the program from Startup. If there is no way to check in options, then check the Startup tab in Start/Run/MSCONFIG.

Every programmer seems to think their programs should load in Startup and after awhile it slows a computer down if too many things are loading in Startup. Your firewall and virus scanner should load at Startup, but just about every other program you install does not need to run in the background all the time, which is what happens if programs load at Startup.

Martha Fort Worth, Texas
Martha’s Web

Windows Tips: Useful Shortcuts using the Windows Key:

WinKey +
E Opens Windows Explorer
D Minimizes all programs.
R Opens the command line Run dialogue box.
U, + U Shuts down Windows.
U, + H Hibernates Windows.

More shortcuts here:
www.mistywindow.com/windows/tips/shortcuts-1.htm

Alan Henderson, New Zealand
MistyWindow Windows Help

Here’s how to recover some disk space: Reduce Recycle Bin Size

The default size for the recycle bin is 10% of your drive space; which can be several gigabytes. To reduce the size the recycle bin takes up:

1. Right click on the recycle bin icon
2. Select ‘Properties’
3. Drag the slider to a lower percentage. We keep ours at 2%.

You can check out how much space is taken up on each drive by clicking on the tab – ‘Space reserved’ is how much the recycle bin is using.

Doug DePrenger, Nevada
Smartlab Software

Copying Online Messages

When posting messages online, it’s advisable to copy the message to your clipboard before pressing the Send button. Ctrl+A, then Ctrl+C.

If the Send doesn’t take, you can just paste your clipboard contents back again in a new post window.

If it appears to have been sent, but it’s important, you can paste it into a Notepad .txt file (Ctrl+V) .

If the message disappears into digital limbo or if the recipient at the tax department denies receiving it, you at least have a copy of the original to resend.

If it’s a long tome, copy it at several intervals.

Alan Henderson, New Zealand
MistyWindow Windows Help

The best computer advice anyone ever gave me was to never save my data on the same drive as the operating system (OS). Often operating systems crash and will need reloading. This never comes without a price. Meaning, files get overwritten and you lose Aunt Sue’s tea cake recipe. With the data on a separate drive the drive the OS is on can be reformatted and you data files will stay intact. If your computer has only one hard drive have someone “partition” it. On the first partition load the OS and your programs. On the second set up your data files. The time spent setting this up on every computer I have owned has saved me countless hours searching back-up files for a missing document.

Sally Kueker, Iowa
Zaneta Publication Design

Windows Tips:The 46 Best Free Programs

Gizmo’s list of the pick of the bunch. You could throw away almost all of your commercial programs if you check this site.

But wait, there’s more!

If you sign up for Gizmo’s monthly newsletter (no spyware), you’ll get access to 49 more!

Alan Henderson, New Zealand
MistyWindow Windows Help

When you get your new computer set up a guest account with limited privileges. If you have visitors who like to use your computer put them on the quest account. Unless you put your files and documents into the shared files folder a guest account can’t see them. It is also recommended as a security feature to use a limited account on a day to day basis and use the main administrator account only when you need to make system wide changes. So you may need three accounts the administrator account, the guest account for visitors and your account for day to day use.

Renee FW Lichtman, New York
Gallery Renee Fine Art

Keeping your computer running smoothly is not just a matter of keeping your anti-malware programs up-to-date. Other housekeeping tasks include:

1. Running a defragmentation program. How often depends upon your usage and the amount of data. If a defrag takes more than an hour or two, you need to do it more often. Defragging will speed up your PC and reduce wear and tear on your hard drives.

2. Once a month, run System File Checker to restore and repair all Windows files.

– In windows XP: Start > Run > Type “sfc /scannow” without the quotes.
– Click OK.
– Have your Windows CD ready to insert if prompted when repair is necessary.

3. Remember to keep Windows (and MS Office) updates current. If you have a fast connection or a bad memory, set XP to update automatically. Otherwise set it to notify you that updates are available.

Alan Henderson, New Zealand
MistyWindow Windows Help

Use a special credit card for ordering online. If something should happen so you have to cancel it, none of your regular credit card usages will be affected.

Michelle Hakala, California
The Desk Drawer Writing Exercise Workshop

Back up everything often. The odds of your computer crashing with all of your vital documents and pictures seem to greatly increase the very moment you don’t have a backup. With the price of external hard drives now falling well within the reach of the average computer user, I highly recommend getting one and using it for regular backups.

I WILL DEFINITELY SEE YOU AT THE TOP!

J. Cricket Walker

Small Business Marketing Consultant and SEO Training Specialist
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