Most computers run perfectly normally for most of the time. But like any other machine, things can and do go wrong. Without appropriate software to instruct it, all computer hardware is dumb and useless. This software not only has to tell the hardware what it should be doing, it also has to make friends and be accepted by Windows. It is a miracle that anything works at all.
1. Never turn off your computer by simply flicking the power switch. Always use the proper shut down procedure via the Start button. Doing so can lead to problems later on. Windows need to stop any open programs, store all your saved work and return system files to their correct folders. I know it can sometimes take a while for Windows to close down, but please be patient or it could eventually damage or corrupt system files.
If however, it simply refuses to power down or your system has frozen up, then you have no option but to turn it of at the mains. Then fix whatever problem has caused it to freeze.
2. Do not run in Safe Mode all the time. Some people do but it is not the normal operating mode for Windows. Maybe they should have called it ‘Diagnostic Mode’ or ‘Fix Mode’ or something similar, as the name ‘Safe Mode’ suggests it is OK to work in this mode. It isn’t, only use Safe Mode to fix problems.
3. Do not delete any files you didn’t create yourself. Many people go on a deleting spree once in a while. It is OK and good practice to clean up old document files, photographs that have been safely stored on CD, Music files that you have grown tired of; even saved game files can be deleted. This is good, it frees up hard drive space. But never randomly delete any system files just because you don’t know what they are or you think you never use them. This can and often does cause big problems. Lots of files are ‘Shared Files’, they can be used by several programs.
4. Never use pirated software, or any software of unknown origin. These are often the source of viruses.
5. Never reformat your hard drive. Doing so will completely wipe all data from your hard drive. The only time this would be necessary, is if some major disaster or virus destroyed your hard drive. In this case your data would be lost anyway and you would need to reinstall Windows.
6. Do not leave files open all over the place, they use up resources simply by being open. By open I mean, not in a folder. Place files and photographs in appropriately named folders. This will save resources as your computer considers them closed, and it makes accessing those files and pictures easier for you.
7. Do not install any new software, no matter whom or where it came from, without first scanning it with your security suite. If you download software, always choose the ‘save’ option as opposed to ‘Run’. Then you can scan the files before they are let loose on your computer. The same applies, possibly even more so, to e-mail attachments. To scan any new software, simply right click on the file or folder and choose; Scan with Norton, or AVG or whatever security program you have.
8. Never install any new software without first creating a System Restore Point. So once you have scanned the new software, as above, next you should set a Restore Point, so that if the new software causes conflicts or other problems, you can return your computer to a time before your new software upset Windows.
9. Do not forget to scan your computer, at least once a week with your Security program. If possible, always go for a ‘Full System Scan’. And check for updates daily if this is not set to do so automatically.
10. Never rest your ashtray on the open tray of the CD player. I know this sounds crazy, but I do know of people actually doing this. In fact it is not a good idea to smoke near your computer anyway. The smoke gets drawn into the machine’s inner working by the cooling fans and can cause components to fail.