The folks at Best Buy have a group of geeks they call the Geek Squad, who can help those who are computer illiterate fix their machines. But one Geek Squad gal sent 7 things that anyone can do, just to avoid having to bring their computer to Best Buy. These are not earth shattering suggestions for those who are avid Lockergnome readers, in fact for most of us these tips are common sense. But for those out there in computer land who find the computer a mystery, these seven tips could save you some heartache and pain.
I work with the Geek Squad and have tips on how consumers can SAVE MONEY when it comes to their computers. This is what all computer owners should know by now:
1) Keep all your data backed up.
Put it on a disc, external HDD, upload it to a data safe website, another computer, somewhere! One place is NO GOOD, two places is OK, but once one fails, you need to create another second spot! This will save you from 99 to 149 dollars when you bring your computer in to Geek Squad right off the bat. NO manufacturer warranty covers your data — you need to do it yourself. Back up your pictures, contacts, documents, taxes, music, and ANY business information you have.
2) Have recovery discs for each computer you have.
This is your licensed copy of your OS. These are specific to your computer’s guts (processor, mother board, sound, and graphics cards). They have the drivers needed for your computer to use itself. Burn them right away when you get your computer on to DVDs and put them somewhere safe. It will take from one to three hours to do. If you lose them you can order them from your manufacturer for between 15 and 50 dollars, depending on the brand. HP is usually cheaper; Sony is wicked expensive. They take about two or three weeks to get in if you end up needing them when you replace a hard drive or need to fix Windows. If you don’t get them that way, you can purchase a full copy of Snow Leopard for about 30 dollars, or Windows 7 for about 200.
3) One anti-virus at a time, please.
Two at a time is like pushing fat pigs through a dog door: neither can get inside correctly and they block each other from functioning properly. They can tear nasty holes in your operating system depending on which ones you’re trying to combine (seen it!) or at least SLOW YOU DOWN TO A CRAWL because two systems are trying to scan your every move as well as each other’s moves. More than one is usually LESS protection than one good one. Remove the old ones — even if they’re expired, they’ll get in the way. YOUR COMPUTER CAME WITH A TRIAL OF SOMETHING, take it off if that’s not the one you’re gonna use! Most anti-viruses are 40 dollars for a year, but if you buy two or three licenses, you usually get a deal.
4) Don’t install tool bars. They’re bloatware that will slow down your Internet speeds.
You don’t need five of them; they take up most of the screen and will end up affecting performance.
5) “Free” stuff can be expensive:
Free games, movies, and music taken from torrent sites, as well as pornography sites and even free social networking sites, are riddled with viruses. Virus removal is 129-199. Be safe and smart on the Internet. If you got a virus, it’s your own fault. A virus is a software issue, and is considered private data not covered by any warranties.
6) Computers don’t like liquids.
This includes water, Coke, beer, soup, bodily fluids, and excessive cleaners. Don’t spray screen cleaner directly on your screen; spray it on your cleaning cloth and then wipe. A stream of any liquid can cause damage. Computers also don’t like gravity or being punched. This will probably cause lots more damage and not fix a speed issue.
7) No computer is immortal.
Technology changes at an extremely fast rate. Average computer life span is two to three years for a laptop or closer to four for a desktop. This makes sense, because laptops undergo more stress: movement, impact, and temperature changes, and they’re prone to overheating on a lap. Your computer takes electricity and circulates through lots of things and gets hot. It’ll burn out sometimes, but if you have your data backed up, you’ll be up and ready on a new one in no time.
You wouldn’t get mad at your mechanic because you don’t know how to change your oil, or your vet because you didn’t know how to take care of your dog. BE POLITE to people in the service industry. They touch your grimy, nasty computers full of skin, nicotine, pet hair, dust bunnies… and fix them if you can’t.
There are other things one can do to keep their system running smoothly, but the seven tips above are a good start.
I do want to make one comment on item #2. Most companies do not supply the recovery disks any longer and the consumer needs to burn the disks themselves. Look in your documentation and it should explain exactly what you need to do.