9 Little Computer Habits that Make a Big Difference

Security, performance & data. These worries can cause big headaches for computer users, but handling them doesn't have to be a big deal. Check out our tips!
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Written by Staff Writer • Posted on Feb 29, 2016

Security, performance, and data. These worries can cause big headaches for computer users, but handling them doesn't have to be a big deal. If you just follow these 9 little habits, you'll soon see a big improvement in your computer experience.

Computer Security

1. Check Your Virus Protection on Startup.

When you turn on your computer in the morning, take a few seconds to double-click the shortcut to your antivirus program. This will open a dashboard where you can check whether the virus protection is working, is up-to-date, and how many days are left in your subscription. You can also check the results of past scans to see if there are any issues the program couldn't resolve on its own. A good virus protection program will alert you to major problems, but double-checking will ensure nothing escapes notice.

2. Run Virus Scans on Flash Drives & Other External Storage.

External storage devices like flash drives, CDs, and external hard drives may contain viruses. It's a good idea to scan any storage media you receive from somebody else for viruses before opening any files. Some antivirus software can be set to automatically scan anything you plug into a USB drive, but you can also do it manually by running a custom scan on the new drive.

3. Lock Your User Account With a Password.

If somebody were to break into your home and steal your computer, and your account wasn't password protected, the thief could access all your personal information just by turning the computer on. Go to the user or account settings to set up a password, and make a habit of locking or logging off your computer whenever you step away for a long time. Your private data will be that much more secure.


4. Defrag your Hard Drive Weekly.

As you create, modify and delete files on your computer, the data on your hard drive will gradually become scattered in random fragments. The computer is capable of bringing these fragments together when you want to view and change a file, but it will need to work harder than if the data were all in one spot. A disk defragmenter will reorganize the data into nice clean groups.

It's not necessary to defrag your hard drive more than once a week, unless you're creating or changing hundreds of files every single day. In newer versions of Windows, you can schedule the Disk Defragmenter to run automatically in the background, so you'll have one less thing to worry about.

5. Quit Unused Programs.

The more programs that are running at once, the slower your computer will be. Get into the habit of quitting any programs you aren't using. You can always start the program up again if you need to.

6. Turn the Computer Off at Night.

Unless your computer is downloading something, running a virus scan, or doing some other task that's going to take a few hours to complete, leaving the computer on all night is just a waste of electricity. Turning the computer off overnight also gives the hardware a chance to cool down and rest, and the computer will start up with a fresh, new instance when you turn it on in the morning.

Data Management

7. Save Back-up Copies.

If you use physical devices like flash drives or external hard drives for your backup, make a habit of saving every new file twice--once to your local disk and once to the backup device. If you update your backups immediately after making any changes, you'll never have to worry about losing your data in a disaster. If you have Bask's backup service, this process happens automatically.

8. Hit Ctrl + S After Every Paragraph.

Ctrl + S is a keyboard shortcut for Windows (the Mac shortcut is Command + S) that saves the document you're currently working on. It's faster than moving the mouse up to the menu and selecting "Save." Develop the habit of hitting Ctrl and S (or Command and S) each time you start a new paragraph, and you'll never need to worry about losing your work due to a crash.

9. Use Folders to Organize Files.

If you have a lot of documents, spreadsheets, photos and other files on your computer, it can be difficult to find the ones you want. Don't just save everything to the desktop, My Documents, or the C:/ drive. Instead, create folders to organize your files into manageable groups. You can organize by type (documents, photos, videos, etc.) but the best idea is to create and name folders in the way that makes most sense to you.

For instance, you could make files for photos grouped by date (November_2014, December_2015, January_2016, etc.) or by event (Disneyland, Dance Recital, Thanksgiving 2015, etc.). If you find or make a file that doesn't fit into an existing folder's theme, just make a new folder. You can even make folders inside other folders for more precise organization.

Print out this list and practice these tips until they become automatic habits. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier your computing will become!