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28 pieces of computing advice that stand the test of time

Mark Sullivan | Oct. 4, 2012
Technology never stops moving foward. Hardware gets faster, and operating systems gain new features and (we hope) finesse. This is natural computing law.

Stop thieves

People store gigabytes of vital information on their portable devices, yet they rarely think about protecting their devices from theft. One of the best things you can do is to install a GPS-enabled antitheft program on your laptop, tablet, or phone. If your device goes missing, the software will lock the OS, report the device's location to you via GPS, and in some cases even capture and send some photos of the thief.

Investigate crashes

If your PC seems to crash frequently, the Windows Reliability Monitor (Control Panel > System and Security > Action Center > Reliability Monitor) can help isolate the cause. The utility keeps track of all hardware and software crashes and warnings, organizing them by date. By clicking on one, you can see the full details of what happened.

For gamers: Update your drivers

Confirm whether you have the latest drivers for your PC's graphics and sound hardware. Game developers create their titles using the latest features and functionality in graphics cards. If youre using older drivers, your graphics card might not be up to the task of rendering the game properly on screen.

Take a screenshot

Save a screenshot (or snap a photo and save it to Evernote) of every weird problem or crash you see. Having an image can help immensely if the problem becomes chronic and you need assistance in fixing it.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication simply means that logging in to a given service requires two separate forms of authentication: something you know (such as a password) and something you own, typically your smartphone. For example, you can enable two-factor authentication for your Gmail account. Doing so will require you to have your smartphone nearby every time you try to log in to your account so that the service can send you a unique alphanumeric code via SMS, but the arrangement makes it much more difficult for hackers to break into your account.

Change your router's default SSID

The easiest thing you can do to improve the security of your wireless network is to change both the login and the password for your router to unique alphanumeric phrases that only you know. Since finding the default login and password for almost every router on the market is child's play online, leaving your router at the defaults allows anyone to gain access to the wireless network in your home or small business.

Shun 'Free Public Wi-Fi'

The 'Free Public Wi-Fi' network you might see listed on your Windows PC when you're in various public places is the result of an old Windows XP bug that causes the OS to set up an ad hoc data-sharing network for connected PCs if it can't connect to a trusted wireless network automatically.

 

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