Not everyone’s a professional – but most of us rely on computers for all sorts of things, from connecting with friends and family to running a home business. And here’s the thing. We all know some of the stuff we ought to do to keep our laptops and PCs running smoothly, securely and quickly – but how many of us know it all? We’ve put together a list of the top 10 maintenance tricks every computer user should have a handle on. Check it out. If you’re the sort of person who gets flustered by tech talk you’ll never have to worry about expensive repairs again. And if you’re that guy everyone calls when their laptop stops working, send this on and let your friends solve their problems for themselves!
Shortcut your way to a quicker user experience
Computer-repair-shortcutsComputers are designed to do things quickly. In the time it took you to read this, the processors inside your machine have carried out thousands of vital tasks.
A shortcut is a combination of keys that lets you delegate common tasks to the superfast brain of your PC or laptop. Try pressing ALT and Tab at the same time. Your computer will flip between all the open programs and screens, so you can jump from job to job without faffing. There are tons of shortcuts specific to pieces of software, which you can learn by looking in the help section of the program in question; and there are plenty of PC wide key combinations too. CTRL-S saves what you’re working on. CTRL-C will copy highlighted text or images, and CTRL-V will paste them.
Keep everything safe: set up your backup
Repair-computer-backupBored of backing up? Always intending to set up an automatic system but never quite got around to it? Stop what you’re doing and follow these instructions. Setting up automatic backup takes minutes, and can save years’ worth of work.
Most modern computers have easy backup services installed with their operating systems. Apple uses what it calls TimeMachine, and Windows has the imaginatively-named Windows Backup. Both do exactly the same thing: make periodic copies of your entire system, so you can restore it if something goes wrong. To set up, just go into the backup utility and follow the wizard. We’d also recommend investigating external backup for vital data (for example, your home business accounts and invoices). Commercial backup services take regular feeds of your crucial data and store them elsewhere, so you can always rebuild your lost empire.
Keep it clean and beat the viruses
Computer-repairs-virus-cleanupViruses, malware, spyware, worms – there’s always something out there looking to do your computer a nasty. Your best weapon against malicious attack is a good dose of common sense: understanding the difference between spyware and a Trojan virus is a good place to start. That, and a good antivirus program. The one that comes with Windows is actually one of the best: and it’s free, too, which is always a bonus.
Keep your eyes peeled for suspicious links, emails and web pages. If something looks weird, don’t click on it. If you get emails from your bank asking you to provide all your login information, don’t trust them.
Power up your handheld devices – boosting battery life
laptop-repairs-batteryBattery life isn’t what it used to be. Most smart phones need to be charged at least once a day. Laptops, tablets and handheld gaming devices are just as bad. Learn to avoid battery drain by getting into a charging routine – and investigate the power settings on your laptop and smart phone to ensure you’re making the most of what you have. A Windows Phone, for example, has a Battery Saver setting that turns on automatically when you have less than 30% charge left – but you can override the setting and have it on all the time.
Know your network, fix your world
PC-repair-router-configure-networkNetwork problems are a pain in the behind. If you’ve got persistent collapsing internet, beat the bandwidth issues by managing your router. There are two reset buttons on most routers: the one you have to get at with a pin resets the device on a different bandwidth, which may be clearer than the one you’re currently trying to use. Check router placement, too: an overheated router (which happens when the router is placed too near to a wall or other obstruction) can fail intermittently, and anything between the router and your wireless device will cause the signal to weaken.
Stay in control with remote access
computer-repair-remote-accessLeaving vital information on your home machine is one of the biggest problems for users with multiple devices. Access your home PC from anywhere by installing a simple app – there are plenty out there that give you entry to your home computer via an online password screen. You can also use cloud file services like Dropbox or Google Docs to store your important stuff remotely. When you do that you access the files, rather than the home computer, but the effect is the same – and you can modify them wherever you are in the world.
Share files, not headaches
pc-repairs-share-filesFile sharing is now super easy, thanks to the services mentioned above. You don’t need a USB stick when you have access to a remote cloud storage facility like Google Docs or Dropbox – and if you’re networked with a Windows Homegroup it’s even easier. Apple has a similar function: your Mac can see any computer in the same local area network, and with permission you can swap files between them. Or you could use good old fashioned email. Whichever way you choose to go, physical storage media are dead.
Maintain your computer for that “just bought” speed
laptop-repairs-virus-cleaningComputers collect an awful lot of rubbish behind the scenes – registry entries, browsing histories, temporary internet files… the list is almost endless. The more of this stuff you have cluttering up the hard disk, the slower your computer goes.
PC and laptop maintenance is mainly about clearing out the junk. You can do this with a built in program, on a Windows machine (Disk Cleanup Utility) – or with a downloaded program like MacKeeper on an Apple. Defragging will also help with speed by collating broken files into one place – the defrag repairs the files in question. Downloadable (and free) utilities like CCleaner will keep your hard disk shipshape and ready for action.
Keep it safe, keep it secure
computer-virus-protectionComputer security is a huge issue – for businesses, for personal users, for everyone who connects to the world with any kind of communications device. As well as using antivirus software (see above), Computer repair Ltd recommends to learn basic online security and stick to a recommended set of habits and processes. Never use the same password for two different websites, and create strong passwords by combining upper and lower case letters with numbers and special characters. Delete any information that can identify you personally from uploaded photos, and never conduct financial transactions, or use your passwords, on public networks.
Find your lost or stolen device
laptop-repairs-find-stolen-deviceMost smart phones come with a Find My Phone function, which allows you to locate lost or stolen devices using a computer. You can also download apps for your tablets and laptops, which do much the same thing. Top of the list is Prey, which turns the tables on would-be gadget thieves, using the device’s own onboard camera. If your Prey-enabled laptop gets nicked, access the app from another computer and take snaps of the thief as he or she types on your keyboard.
Got any more tech savvy tips? We’d love to hear from you….