From Overclocking to Malware: 10 PC Don'ts Everyone Should Know
Whether for work or leisure, laptops are an integral part of our daily lives. They are trusty companions for digital nomads and remote workers, and let gaming enthusiasts explore fantasy realms or compete with friends. Laptops generally last between four and five years, however understanding what can be harmful to your computer is vital to enhance its lifespan and overall health. Broken PCs can be a nuisance, especially for digital nomads working abroad or employees with deadlines and online meetings. Here, we discuss 10 PC don’ts everyone should know to boost the longevity and smooth running of your laptop device.
1. Don't force shutdown your computer
It may be tempting to force shut down a non-responsive or frozen laptop. While this may provide short-term relief, it can also cause long-term damage. Properly shutting down laptops allows all files and applications to close down safely, whereas improper shutdowns can cause data corruption, file system errors, or even hardware damage that can impact the longevity of a device. Sudden shutdowns can also damage hardware components and can lead to system instability. It is best to remain patient during slow shutdowns, too, as this can indicate your device is processing pending updates.
2. Don't ignore updates
Updates may seem to pop up at inconvenient times, but they are imperative for the overall health of a device. Updates fix bugs and include patches for newly identified system vulnerabilities. Without updates, sensitive data may be on show for hackers and cybercriminals to steal. Moreover, application updates are handy because they install new features that improve productivity or usability. Users can schedule updates for specific times, so there is no need to worry about interruptions during meetings or intense work schedules.
3. Don't download from suspicious sites or torrent
Avoiding downloading files from suspicious sites may seem like common sense, but cybercriminals are using increasingly sophisticated ways to steal personal information. Some links may look legit but contain harmful malware that can exploit known software vulnerabilities to infect devices. Moreover, torrent-based file sharing is convenient as it allows users to send multiple files at once, but they can also include harmful viruses or malware. There is also the risk that torrent files include copyrighted movie or games downloads, which is illegal in many countries. A general rule of thumb is to only click on links from trusted sources and always run updates and an antivirus program for added protection.
4. Don't use weak passwords
Weak passwords containing guessable number combinations, names, and house numbers are easily detected by humans and computers. The number combination 1234 would be easy to guess, for instance, whereas a strong password containing uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and special characters would be more difficult. Weak passwords are highly susceptible to data breaches and cyberattacks, which could cause system takeovers or data theft. Cybercriminals may also attempt so-called brute-force attacks, repeatedly trying various password combinations until they guess the correct one. A weak password is similar to having no password at all, potentially giving hackers access to sensitive personal data.
5. Don't use the same password for everything
Similarly, using the same password for multiple applications can also create vulnerabilities. Having one password for all applications and accounts is like having the same key for your house, car, and office. If hackers gain access to a system using one password, they can access all other accounts with the same password. In 2022, over 80% of confirmed password breaches were due to weak or reused passwords. Avoid giving hackers easy access to sensitive data, and protect yourself by using a different but strong password for all applications and accounts.
6. Don't overheat your PC and no overclocking
Some gaming laptops support overclocking, which puts devices into turbo mode for enhanced performance. Overclocking boosts the CPU speed, which helps fuel during intense gaming or video editing sessions, as computers feel faster and more streamlined. However, this enhanced performance produces additional heat and can cause overheating if a device’s vents are blocked or compromised. Overclocking an overheated laptop can cause irreparable damage, so it is crucial to keep an eye out for signs of overheating. Using an overheating laptop can lead to failed hardware components, such as motherboards or hard drives, and decrease the overall lifespan of a device.
7. Don't keep your PC dusty and dirty
Regular cleaning also helps increase the lifespan of a laptop and ensures top performance for longer. Dust and debris can build up inside devices, which could cause overheating or damage to internal components. Moreover, unclean keyboards can lead to malfunctioning keys or hardware issues. Alongside cleaning, it is advisable not to eat or drink near a laptop to avoid getting crumbs or liquid between keys or in ports.
8. Don't fill your hard drive to capacity
Files, photos, and videos can take up precious hard drive space. While it is nice to look through old memories, filling hard drives can impact the performance of a device. Dormant files can take up space required to run applications and cause devices to slow down or crash. Laptops also need space to store temporary files, which is difficult if the hard drive is almost full. Users should generally leave around 10 percent of the hard drive unused, leaving adequate room for virtual memory and fragmentation.
9. Don't neglect backing up your PC
Backups include creating copies of important data that prepare for primary data failures. These failures may be due to hardware or software issues, data corruption, or malware attacks. Having backups means that data can be restored from previous points in time, reducing the amount of information lost. In addition, regular backups also contribute to good computer hygiene, as files are saved elsewhere instead of accumulating hard drive space.
10. Don't open suspicious email attachments
As hacking tactics evolve, cybercriminals pose as a company or customer to dupe unsuspecting victims. Spam emails containing receipts or other attachments may be convincing, but opening suspicious files can infect devices with malicious viruses. Remember that just one computer virus can ruin your entire computer. To reduce this risk, do not open attachments from unknown sources, and double-check with the sender before opening unexpected files.
Laptops and devices are now part of our everyday lives. They support our work and lifestyles and facilitate gaming and video editing. Computer breakdowns are more than just a headache — they can be costly and time-consuming to fix. By maintaining good computer hygiene, including regularly backing up files and not allowing devices to overheat, users can keep laptops running smoothly for as long as possible. Users should clean their desk area and avoid eating and drinking near devices so that crumbs and debris do not spill onto keyboards or ports. Finally, regularly conducting updates and using strong passwords reduces the risk of hacking attempts, keeping laptops and data safe and virus-free.
Jeni is a translator and writer based in Taiwan. She is passionate about business development and loves helping companies enter international markets. She is fluent in English, German, and Mandarin Chinese, and combines these with her industry experience to provide practical market entry solutions.