You’re having coffee with your friend and proudly telling him that you’ve finally set up your virtual office and are ready to get to work. He nods, and then starts to ask you a few well-meaning but uncomfortable questions about backing up, secure passwords, or privacy settings, things that have never actually occurred to you but now seem like very good ideas. Well lucky you, you had that friend to remind you. If not, I will. Here is a list of habits anyone with a computer should have. Read them, do them, then be that friend that recommends it to others and calling tech support will be a thing of the past, saving them and yourself a whole world of trouble.

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1. Regularly Check Your Privacy Settings on Social Networks

Everybody has that one friend who has a less than stellar Facebook profile, what with her penchant for table dancing and having cross eyed pictures of her taken. You shudder and vow that this will never happen to you. Then head on over to your PC and check the privacy settings of your social network profiles. Be aware of what every setting means to your privacy, and check out sites like AdjustYourPrivacy.com to give you a helping hand. Nobody’s going to catch you table dancing.

2. Know your computer maintenance

Computer maintenance is not complicated nor is it witchcraft. And it is certainly not worth leaving it in the hands of some cousin of dubious skill, or annoying a tech support specialist over. Keeping your computer in shape should be easy enough to be done by yourself at home. Check Google for a maintenance to do list, and if you encounter any problems, Google will most likely have the answer as well. Just remember, before asking anybody, Google it first.

3. Keep Your Desktop and Hard Drive Neat and Clean

If your desktop begins to resemble a pizza, it’s time to tidy up a bit. Not only do cluttered desktops affect productivity, it might even slow down your computer.  A clean looking organized desktop helps stay focused better and makes things easier to find. The same goes for where you store files and where you install programs. Assign a definite folder for both. That way, things are easier to find and you’re not giving your PC a hard time.

4. Back Up Your Computer

You’ve been told a million times, and you nod and say “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do it later”.  A crashed PC or catastrophic data loss always happens to other people. It couldn’t possibly happen to you. Then Bam! It happens to you, and you’re left with a box. It will happen to everyone one day, and the only way to address in is to have a good backup. Besides, setting one up is so easy and straightforward, you’ll be asking yourself why you procrastinated in the first place. So back up right now. You’ll thank me later.

5. Be Safe on Public Wi-Fi

Using that public Wi-Fi from your nearest coffee shop, while convenient is also very risky. It isn’t difficult for others to find out sensitive information from you no matter how many passwords you put between them and you. It sounds a little paranoid, but that’s the truth. Turn off sharing, enable your firewall, and use SSL when possible.

I hope these tips have helped. They are quite basic and not very complicated, but in the future when your PC gets a very rare glitch, you won’t panic. You will know exactly what to do.

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