7 Common Computer Mistakes You Can Avoid
Nobody is perfect. Despite all the advice available online, many of us make silly mistakes. Don’t want to be caught acting like a computer noob? Consult this list of usual slip-ups to avoid.

Using Pre-Installed Free StuffDon’t get me wrong. Not all pre-installed applications are bad. But for some you may have no use and others may even turn out to be sub-standard and slow down your computer.

Checking your PC for each item you didn’t ask for will probably take you a while. But, this is the only way to make sure you get rid of everything you don’t want. Thankfully, there are some tools to help you with this process. One of these is PC Decrapifier.

This free application helps you identify unwanted junk. Once you run the wizard it shows you a checklist with recommendations. Tick the programs, icons and start-up items that don’t want and then click the Next button as shown in the screenshot below.

For more information please read Tim’s article on how to remove unwanted crapware. I also recommend you check out our Best Windows Software page for a list of useful software.

Default InstallationsEveryone loves free stuff! Unfortunately, free software is often ad-supported and in many cases the installer comes bundled with additional products or ad-ware, which can slow down your computer. Thus, anytime you download a free Windows application, you must do a custom install. With a custom install, you can opt out of crapware, say a browser toolbar or another application.

Registry CleaningIt’s a myth; registry cleaning does not speed up your computer. Unfortunately, the tale that has been spun on the Internet tells a different story. Do not believe the hype. In fact, you may slow down your computer by running a registry cleaner.

Too Much Disk DefragmentationWindows defragments your drive in the background automatically so most people don’t need to defragment their hard disk manually. You should only defragment your hard drive if it is 5-10% fragmented. And, this is only if it is a magnetic hard drive (HDD).  Solid State Drives (SSD) do not benefit from defragmentation, you only end up shortening their life span.

Not Restarting The ComputerAnytime you notice your Windows machine behaving weird for no clear reason, firsttry to reboot and see if that solves the problem. Rebooting is considered a cure-all of sorts that fixes a ton of problems. A few examples of problems that can be fixed with a simple reboot include; slow running, programs using too much memory, Internet or WiFi connection problems and the Windows blue screen of death.

Failure To Back Up DataThere are many reasons for data loss, but some of the most common include: accidental deletion, hard disk damage or failure, viruses, power disruption and improper shutdown.

If you lost your data tomorrow, would you have backup copies of all your important documents? You need a rock solid backup strategy to mitigate the ever-present threat of data loss. There are several ways to backup your data. You can backup to an external hard drive, use a cloud storage service or a network drive. If using Windows 7, you can make use of the backup and restore feature whileWindows 8 has a built-in time machine backup.

For more detailed information, please read our PC Backup and Restore guide. Don’t be one of those people who ignore backups until they lose their files. Be proactive and start creating backups today.

Failure to Keep Your Windows OS & Other Essential Software Up-To-DateDevelopers roll out new updates for several reasons. The main ones include; rolling out new features, fixing bugs, patching security loopholes and making the system more secure. Failure to update your OS and essential software leaves you vulnerable to security breaches. The best way to ensure you do not forget to update Windows is to turn on automatic updating.

In Windows 7, go to Control Panel > System and Security >Action Center. Under Windows Update, click Change Settings and select the ‘Install updates automatically’ option. In Windows 8, click or tap Settings > PC Settings > Update and Recovery. Under Recommended Updates select the “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates” check box, and click Apply.

Also, schedule your antivirus to check for updates once a day. Virus databases are updated almost daily to immediately address new risks.

Are you guilty of any of these computing sins? Do you know of any other common computer mistakes? Please share your insights with us.