Tech Talk— Keep Your Computer Happy!

Communities / Feb. 17, 2011 12:19pm EST

I’m often asked lots of questions about what may harm a computer:

Should computers be turned off at night? Must they be unplugged during a thunderstorm? I’ll try and answer a few of these here, but if I miss one, feel free to email me at and I’ll write back to you.

I’ll start with the two above. Computers should be turned off when you’re not going to use them for more than a few hours. It’s hard to be more specific, but just know that turning off your computer does save electricity—especially the monitor! Make sure that’s turned off whenever you’re away from it.

During thunderstorms, the safest way to protect your electronics is to unplug them. True, it’s usually not necessary, but if you unplug, they’ll never be fried by lightning. Further, if you use the Internet access – in any form – electrical surges can come over that Internet line, so don’t forget to unplug that, too.

Should you update your computer? The question of updates isn’t always targeted at the operating system. As a general rule, if a program wants to update—let it. Windows Updates do much more good than harm, so let those happen automatically if you can. Once in a while you may run into a program that works poorly or is incompatible after an update—but those consequences are far better than leaving a security hole open!

How often should I backup? Here’s a better question? How much is your time worth? If you backup weekly, you could lose everything from the past week. If that’s a scary proposition, than you need to backup more often.

Find your comfort zone. I backup constantly— to multiple sources. As my English teachers in school could have told you, I hate redoing my work!

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