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10 Dumb Things Users Do That Can Mess Up Their Computers

We all do dumb things now and then. How many of us have pressed the wrong key on our keyboard or clicked the OK button in the wrong dialog box that causes changes to important settings that will alter your computers behavior and sometimes crash your system? Remember when computers were “new” to you and how fearful you were in thinking one wrong click or key command would destroy your computer?

Luckily, short of placing magnets all over your box or demolishing it with a sledge hammer, the consequences aren’t quite that dire (even though it feels like it at times). Debra Littlejohn Shinder, a technology consultant, trainer, and writer, has created a list of common missteps that we all should share with our users to help them steer clear of preventable problems. I’ve listed them below and you can click here to read more into each step.

1. Plug into the wall without surge protection.
2. Surf the Internet without a firewall.
3. Neglect to run or update antivirus and anti-spyware programs.
4. Install and uninstall lots of programs (especially betas).
5. Keep disks full and fragmented.
6. Open ALL attachments.
7. Click on everything. (How many of us see this every day?)
8. Share and share alike.
9. Pick the wrong passwords.
10. Ignore the need for a backup and recovery plan.

Technology may be changing at a lightning-fast pace, but one thing remains constant: Users make mistakes with their computers. Sometimes, the mistakes are just slip-ups that could happen to anyone (ourselves included). But other times, an avalanche of issues is unleashed simply because a user didn’t know any better. It may look like they’ve done something dumb, but if we haven’t taught them better habits, we’ve done something even dumber.

I encourage all to read her article on “10 dumb things that users do that can mess up their computers” and share it with your users to help them along the way.

7 Responses

  1. I hate to drag this one up, but I can’t resist. A couple of your points refer to Windows-specific problems. Namely, numbers 3, 4, and 5.

    We could actually extend that list. Opening attachments isn’t an issue on Linux because of the lack of viruses and other malware. We can click everything for the same reason. Sure, there may be popups, but that’s it. No spyware.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I’m a Linux user myself and I completely agree. I tend to post about both Linux and Windows. Feel free to extend the list!

  3. My only issue with this list is that it suggests that the user is always at fault when in reality the blame is mostly crappy technology.

    For example, why must you obtain additional software packages such as anti-virus and spyware to make windows safe to use. By this logic, if windows is so unsafe to use, then why even use it at all?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting protecting the user from themselves; even that in of itself also suggests the user is again at fault. Users should be free to explore and use their technology in whatever manner they sit fit without fear. How this is accomplished is easier said than done, but it is possible. The first step is to stop blaming the user and fix the technology.

  4. mindrape-

    The technology is fixed. It’s called Unix/Linux/BSD/any other *nix derivative.

    Have a good day! 🙂

  5. did you forget to raise your sarcasm hand? I seriously hope that isn’t your belief! The technology is far from being fixed.

  6. It was half sarcasm, half seriousness.

    The only way technology will be ‘fixed’ to the degree you want it is extreme AI, and that’s something I definitely do NOT want.

  7. nah, you see the way we user computers is just a mere massive metal masturbation experience. In a true information age, there won’t be anyone sitting behind a computer like today. Instead it will be in the walls, mirrors, floors, clothes, hair, and much, much more all co-existing in multi-layer networks. People will look back and will wonder how did we ever survive. Maybe even regard us as barbaric savages. Technology power users today are tomorrow fossilized dinosaurs quickly approaching of the final apex of the industrial revolution.

    Thanks to technology we finally reached the point of creating the most modular, componentize, world-wide automation with a bit of hardware and some wire, but most of it just pure electrons..


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