My computing Top Tips


Starting with my top tip, never use a laptop on a soft surface, especially a bed. This will lead to the air-vents being blocked and the laptop overheating, shortening the life of its internal components from years to months. Always use a laptop on a hard, flat surface which will let air circulate properly and be careful with table cloths too.


This may sound obvious but only buy a laptop if you really need a portable computer. A desktop PC will be quicker, more reliable, cheaper to repair and more pleasant to use. It will also be less prone to accidental damage and theft.


Don’t for a second believe that your PC security software will give you 100% protection no matter what you do. Using your PC sensibly and responsibly is the best protection as security software isn’t very good at protecting you from online scams, misleading on-screen messages and bogus telephone calls from someone pretending to be from Microsoft, etc.


Never trust a USB flash drive with important information and never save files directly to it. Instead save files to your computer disk and then copy the files to the flash drive when you have finished your work. USB flash drives are just not robust enough, easy to lose and are prone to sudden failure causing data loss.


Look for some great educational discounts for students and school children available from Microsoft and Apple. For example, do a search for “microsoft uk education students” and look for student promotions. This way you can buy Microsoft Office for £40 quite legally, provided of course that you are a student or parent of a school child. Apple will discount their MacBooks by about £50.


PC stores sell many products at inflated prices, such as cables, RAM upgrades, peripherals and software. They can make more money selling a USB cable than selling a laptop. Use your computer to buy the items you need online instead. One well-known PC store sells a cable in-store for £21 that can be bought on their website for £5 and can be found even cheaper with other online retailers.


Wireless printers must be sited relatively close to your wireless router, not your PC. It seems some showroom sales staff don’t understand this simple fact.


Finally, do you have Vista or Windows 7 and keep losing documents or can’t find a program? Then use the built-in search feature. Just press the ‘Windows’ key (left of the spacebar) and start typing a search string. A list of documents and programs containing the string will appear almost immediately. Then just select the one you want.


© Peter Johnston, ByteSupport Ltd  2010.