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Although these ideas/concepts may seem second nature to many users, more and more newcomers make mistakes that are costing them time and aggravation. This guideline of simple practices might help save headaches in the future.

  • Always close as many running applications as possible before you install any software. One way is to right click icons that are listed on the task bar (lower right is default) and choose exit/close or disable. To be extra careful, clean boot the system and then close startup application before you install anything.
  • When installing or re-installing an operating system. Disconnect all peripherals except for the keyboard, mouse and Internet connection. Having peripherals connected can cause an install to hang or fail. Once you have installed the operating system and verified it is working correctly, add each peripheral one by one, verify they are working correctly and reboot in between each peripheral installation.
  • Never install software while your virus program is running. Disable your virus program using the method above. Don't worry, when you restart it will be enabled.
  • Whether it asks you to or not, always restart your computer (start-->shutdown or start-->restart) after you install something. In other words, if you install three things, restart after each one.
  • If you do not consider yourself an intermediate or advanced user, avoid installing Beta software.
  • Backup your registry and anything else you may need/want or desire before installing any software or drivers. If your software supports it, set a system restore point or image your drive. If the software you are going to install is not the original CD or floppy, be wary.
  • Always run virus protection for general use and keep it updated. ALWAYS have it set to scan downloads and do NOT trust any attachments even from people you know. Self propagating viruses will come from people who have you in their address book, therefore, they know you and you probably know them.
  • Keep your startup programs limited to the ones you use. Although you can use MSCONFIG to determine what is starting up at logon (and disabled using the tool), the correct method is to disable it through the program itself.
  • Make backups! Although you may have no problems with anything on your computer, a hard drive crash can happen without warning. A hard drive is a mechanical device and mechanical devices break.
  • Never unplug or plug a keyboard or mouse (ps2) when the system is turned on. Some even prefer to power down for any plugging and unplugging (except the occasional USB)
  • Use a good surge protector or battery backup. It makes no sense to spend $2,000 dollars on a computer and plug it into a $3 dollar surge protector. You also need to protect your Cable or DSL connection.
  • Even if you have a surge or battery backup, shutdown during thunder and lightening storms. Why take the chance? If you really want to be safe, unplug everything connected to power, telephone and cable.
  • Be careful when running Windows update. Windows may tell you a driver update is needed that is older than the driver installed. You may want to create a restore point or registry backup prior to downloading driver updates. Reboot after they are installed and check to make sure they are installed properly. Different OS's require different measures. In XP you can choose to just "roll back the driver" Other OS's may not be as forgiving. If you're not sure what to do and your machine is working fine, don't do it. In other words, "if it ain't broke . . . "
  • Check for errors and defragment your hard drive. If you are not running specific software that does this, go to my computer right click your hard drive and click tools. Disable virus software before you do it!
  • Keep the vent/fan opening clean. The more airflow, the cooler the system. Cool is good. Maintain your equipment by keeping it clean. This includes monitors, keyboards, CPU, and peripherals.
  • Clear the cache files in your browser.If you have a broadband connection, then set the maximum amount to a lower value and check for a new version EVERY visit to the page. You may want to set this amount according to your downloads. If you download very large files, you may want to set it higher.
  • Clear your temp files. Do a search for *.tmp and delete everything that is more than one day old.
  • Keep important disks in a common place and in good/clean condition. Nothing is worse than not finding the disk you need when you need it, or finding it and it is badly scratched.
  • Keep floppy disks away from cordless telephones, cell phones and any magnetic devices including your monitor!
  • Save work in progress as you go along. Either set your programs to autosave work after a few minutes or do a manual save. There is nothing worse than spending a few hours working on a spreadsheet or a document or any kind of file and then have a system crash right before you finish.
  • Be careful who you take advice from. Everyone has a friend who is a computer genius. Most of those computer geniuses are the people who keep the real computer geniuses in business.
  • Use the Add/Remove programs feature in Control Panel to remove unwanted programs. Do not delete a folder with the program in it as a way of uninstalling. If you don't know what it is, DO NOT delete it. You may not even want to touch it :-)
  • Some people using a Wireless connection 802.11B (2.4GHZ) and a 2.4GHZ cordless phone could experience intermittent losses of connection.
  • Use a registry cleaning program to keep your registry clean. Always backup it up first:-)
  • Make rescue disks for your antivirus (sans XP), partition programs, etc.Rescue disks can save you on many occasions
  • Keep a Windows 98 or ME startup/boot disk handy.
  • Do not enable the guest account in WINNT, WIN2K, or WINXP
  • When connected to the net, use of a firewall is very highly recommended, either hardware, software or both. Keep in mind that Internet and network problems can occur if a firewall is not configured properly or if it malfunctions.
  • Avoid editing work from floppy disks. Copying the file to your drive will enable you to work faster and will also keep the original copy intact if something happens.
  • If you install a lot of programs, organize them by folders, e.g., Games, Utilities, Security, etc. It will help you find them easier and improve ease of maintenance. If you have the knowledge, putting games, music, pictures, etc. on a separate drive from the operating system is good practice. If you decide to do it, pay close attention to how you name and use your folders. For a more advanced approach you can install programs that do no make registry entries (dlls and the like) on a separate drive or partition. This way if you have a system crash on your main drive/partition, they will still be intact after a reinstall.
  • Keep your CPU steady, don't move it around or shove it into place. The hard drive read heads sit a couple of microns away from the disk. A good shove can crash your drive. Also, moving your CPU often can loosen connections and cause intermittent problems.
  • Turn off screen savers before installing large programs, burning CDs or defragmenting. Better yet, defrag in safe mode.
  • Be careful using disk compression utilities, they can cause trouble as well as take a VERY long time to uncompress.
  • Finally if all else fails: READ THE MANUAL.

FYI, you can view the thread where these tips originated by clicking this link:Rules of thumb so we don't look dumb. :-).

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by eineyANDasia See Profile edited by MSeng See Profile
last modified: 2003-02-11 20:36:35