Even if you work on a computer every day, there are some good tech habits to learn and cultivate to get the most out of your time spent at your PC. Check out the following tips to become a better computer user.

Save your work. Then back up what you just saved. Do this often. This is the single most important thing you can do to minimize expensive data loss and interruptions to your work. If you save it and then something goes wrong, your IT person may be able to recover some or all of your work.

Save your work throughout your day. Everyone’s day is broken up into small sections of time. Start saving things when you get a phone call, leave for lunch, chat with a colleague, etc. Ctrl+S is the nearly universal keyboard shortcut for saving your work. While you can customize the auto-save settings in most programs, getting in the habit of actively saving your work will make it easy to recover that big presentation or spreadsheet that always seems to get corrupted about once each year.

Close unused browser tabs and programs. Each tab and application you have open takes up CPU resources on your machine and can start to slow things down. Use the bookmarking function on your browser or choose a bookmarking extension like Pocket to save interesting things to read later. This will also help your brain as effective multitasking looks more and more like a myth. 🙂

Lock or log out of your machine each night. This allows automatic updates to run while protecting your machine from unwelcome users. As many software updates are security patches, keeping your software up to date is a key way to protect your computer and your network.

Reboot once a month. While it’s better to keep your computer on and locked to allow for nightly updates, it’s important to reboot your machine about once a month. A reboot cleans out the virtual debris and gives you a fresh system. Make a recurring note to do this on your calendar or even ask your IT person if this can be scheduled to make sure it happens.

Save to your network instead of your desktop. Files saved in your C drive/desktop/downloads folder will be lost forever if that machine fails. Saving to a file server with regular backups means you’re still in business if something happens to your specific computer.

Check out your online backups. Are your backups actually backing things up? One of the key benefits of becoming an ongoing managed services client is professional file backups. If you’ve added a consumer backup product to your PC, it’s important to make sure the backups are successfully running. Try and recover a file every quarter to ensure your system is working.

Stick to major websites for online breaks at work. Spending some time on ESPN.com or Facebook should not cause any problems. Just pay attention. If a straight-laced Facebook friend suddenly posts a goofy cat video, proceed with caution before clicking on the link.

Have your IT person clean the dust out of your machine. The most common cause of computer failure after power surges is the buildup of dust and dirt. Excessive dust in your PC reduces air flow and this prevents heat from being properly vented. Let your IT person take care of cleaning out the inside of your computer on a routine basis because opening your machine leaves it vulnerable to damage by static electricity if you’re not careful.

Photo credit: LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 7 – Computer Programmer by Chris Christian (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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