New Year’s resolutions are famously easy to make but hard to keep. These should be easy, and as incentive, if you keep these, you’re less likely to be calling a computer guy for help!
In no particular order, here are a few digital resolutions for 2018:
I Will Back Up My Data.
Computer and phone – it’s cheap and easy to back up your data; to the cloud or to an external drive. No excuses. Having no backup is not an issue until you need it – and then it is painfully, and sometimes expensively, too late. (Don’t forget the contacts on your phone, too. It hurts to lose those when a phone gets lost or dies.)
I Will Not Reuse Passwords.
It should be obvious, but if a bad actor figures out one of your passwords, they will try to use it in other places; including banks and shopping services. Use different passwords everywhere!
I Will Start Using a Password Manager.
Writing down passwords is not safe. The list can be lost by you, or worse, found by someone else. And keeping them in a document or spreadsheet on your computer is very nearly as bad – especially if you’re not taking care of resolution #1. A password manager is a program or service that keeps track of your passwords for you, so that you can easily find any of the many different and obscure passwords you’ve created per resolution #2. There are many password managers, ranging in price from free to expensive, and with varying features. Look for one that is portable across devices, that automatically makes backups, and not too expensive. (I use “mSecure,” myself, if you’re looking for a recommendation.)
I Will Never, Ever Open Unexpected Email Attachments
Not even those that appear to be from friends or family. If someone sends me a photo or document, I don’t open it in email. Period. If it must be opened for work or for family harmony, then I’ll download it to my computer first and then scan it with my antivirus program before opening it. Better to be safe than attacked with ransomware.
This Year, I Will Delete Those Still Unread Emails From 1999.
No, seriously. If your email program shows a large bold number (that is, greater than 1), that number indicates the number of unread emails in your mailbox. If you haven’t read them by now, you’re simply not going to. Delete them. Now. Your email system will work better, and that bold number will become useful to you, as it is intended to be. “You’ve got mail.”
I Will Change the Default Admin Password on All of My WiFi Devices.
All WiFi devices come with an “admin” password to use when setting it up and managing the settings. Usually it is “admin” or “password” or nothing at all. Change it! Immediately. (And put the password in your password manager.) That will keep bad guys from subverting your devices to nefarious ends, and keep you from having your Internet access halted by Xfinity or Optimum because emails are spewing out of your refrigerator or security DVR. (Both have happened!)
I Won’t Accept Web Browser ‘Helper’ Add-Ons.
Pop-up messages offer assistance for little things: to find bargains, organize searches, keep track of the weather, edit photos. Whatever they offer, don’t take them. At best, they slow down your computer. At worst, they steal data from you, including passwords and other private info. Don’t take them. Period.
I Will Stand Up and Move at Least Once Every Hour.
If you spend a lot of time at your computer, (I’m told that) you need to do this. This one comes via suggestion from behind my chair – at least once an hour. Thank you, Dear.
And last, but certainly not least:
I Will Not Touch My Phone While Driving My Car!
Please. Just don’t.
Happy New Year!
Mike Pepper, The Computer Guy, has been providing software and hardware support in New York and Connecticut for more than 35 years. He can be reached at: www.PawlingComputerGuy.com.