You press the power button. Nothing happens.

What now? If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone. Using a computer should be easy, but sometimes, it’s not. It’s just not. So, here are some basics to get you started and keep you out of trouble.

How To Shutdown Your Computer The Right Way

Every computer has a specific shutdown sequence. Most new computer users don’t really see the need to shut down the computer any other way than pressing the power button. After all, you turn all your other electronics on and off that way.

The problem is that computers run thousands of operations, and if you interrupt one, it could leave corrupted files on your hard drive. And, these corrupted files cause problems over time. The same is true of USB sticks and other “plug in” accessories or peripherals. If you suddenly stop the computer, or yank a USB cord out of the computer, you could cause irreparable damage to your computer or to the USB device.

To shutdown a PC, you need to use the Windows shutdown procedure, which is basically clicking on the Windows logo and selecting “shut down” from the menu. On a Mac computer, click the Apple logo and select the “shut down” command.

Where To Save Your Files

You should pick a folder for all your saved files, which is consistent with the file type. For example, documents should be saved in a “documents” folder. Music files should be saved in a “music” folder. Pictures should be saved in a “photos” folder.

And, periodically, run an antivirus scan or anti-malware scan on your computer. Spyhunter 4 is safe and very effective one to try out.

What Not To Change On Your Computer

Don’t change any of the default settings on your computer. In other words, don’t try to be an IT person. Leave the system files alone. And, don’t change settings that you don’t know what they do. If you know how to adjust brightness and sound, fine. But, if you start monkeying around with things like your display resolution or administrative settings, you’re asking for trouble.

When you’re just starting out, keep things simple. Make sure you only change basic visual elements that won’t cause catastrophic damage, and create a password so that your account is locked away from unauthorized access.

How To Protect Your Passwords

Speaking of passwords, use them. And, don’t use wimpy passwords either, like “password.” Create complex passwords that are easy to remember. Be sure to make full use of small caps and large caps letters, symbols as well as numbers, .

For example, something like “>>>thisIsmypAasswoRd<<<883<<<<” is a very difficult password to break, but easy to remember (if you’re a smartypants and want to show off). But, you could also create passwords that reflect your personal tastes, which aren’t too obvious. For example, if you’re a Red Sox fan, you might create a password like “The_YankEEs_Sux***!”.

It’s something you’re always going to remember and, at the same time, it’s difficult to crack. You could also use something like “RedSocks#1Faaaaan..”. Adding in extra characters like periods and the number sign helps make it more secure. And, changing the spelling up keeps hackers from guessing obvious spelling alterations or common legitimate spellings.

Also, make sure your password is something that’s unlikely to have been used in the past by anyone else. Why? Because when hackers steal passwords, as they often do, they keep a database of previously-used passwords. And, they can use “dictionary attacks” to run through lists of passwords that people commonly use. And, if yours is in the list, your unique password is suddenly not so unique.

What To Do With Trial Programs

Get rid of them. Seriously. Get rid of trial programs altogether. They often contain malware or at best are bloated pieces of software which try to get you to buy into products and services you don’t need and probably will corrupt your hard drive.

Even respectable companies will agree to install spyware alongside their legitimate operating systems as part of an advertising deal. It’s good for the manufacturer and dealer – not good for you.

What To Update And When

You should always update your computer to the latest operating system, including any security patches to that system. And, any time you receive a critical update, install it. Most computers give you the option of doing this automatically, whether you’re using a Mac or a PC.

Generally, it’s always best to just have the updates scheduled for automatic updating. This keeps you safe and up to date with the most current version of the software.

Bill Gordon is a tech writer living in Southern California with more than two decades of computer expertise. He is also a video editor and sales consultant. In his spare time he likes hiking, surfing, and reading science fiction.

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