Month after month we are here, pestering you with advice about how to use your computer. This time, we’re taking a different approach. All too often people call us and ask for help with problems that would have been avoided if they had NOT done something.
DON’T be flippant with passwords. Someday there may be a more sophisticated alternative, but for now your password is an important line of defense against the bad guys. Don’t constantly reuse the same password for different sites. Don’t make it something obvious like your address or telephone number, or even your birthday. Of all of the criteria of a good password, length is the most important. Yes, it’s going to be a challenge to remember the dozens of passwords that active users need; use your ingenuity to find a safe way to record and retrieve them when necessary.
DON’T Google the telephone number when you need help from your Internet Service Provider or other utilities. Clever scam artists set up websites with similar names, and sometimes they even pay to have them listed above the legitimate sites. You may think you are calling Rogers or Bell, but you may actually be contacting a crook who will do his best to bilk you of hundreds of dollars. Get the correct telephone number from your monthly statement, or make a list and keep it handy.
DON’T open an attachment to an email, even from a friend, if you are not actually expecting it. If your friend’s email account has been hacked, and bogus messages are being sent out under their name, that attachment may contain a serious virus. The word “Invoice” in an attachment is a dead giveaway that you should be on the alert.
DON’T assume automatically that you need a new computer when problems arise. Even some critical parts like a hard disk, RAM, a fan or a monitor are surprisingly inexpensive. A reputable service company will tell you clearly if the cost of a repair would be inadvisable because that money would be better spent on a replacement. If that happens, listen to their advice so that you don’t spend too much or too little on a new machine.
DON’T avoid updates to your software. Some updates are simply nice-to-have, but others are critical and you should not continually reject them out of fear of being scammed. Get Safe Online is a very helpful site, with lots of advice for parents, teens and general users. They address the subject of safe updates at: http://tinyurl.com/zok94h7
DON’T assume that because you bought and plugged in an external backup device, that your data will be there when you need it. There are several things that can go wrong in the backup process, and the only way to be sure that your data is safe is to make certain that you understand exactly what is supposed to happen and test frequently to be sure that it is.
DON’T waste your time (and certainly not your money) on registry cleaner or tune-up software. Put simply: They don’t work, and they almost always cause far more problems than they solve.
DON’T accept calls from anyone who claims to be with “Microsoft” or “Windows” and who wants to take over your computer remotely to help you get rid of dozens and dozens of so-called “threats.” Don’t talk to them and certainly don’t EVER give them a credit card number. They are criminals. Just hang up.