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Advice to new computer users

By LNCPapa ยท 37 replies
Feb 28, 2017
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  1. This thread is under construction. Updates are on the way

    Things NOT to do:
    • Emails asking for money in exchange for anything - don't give them anything, not even a response. 99.9+% of these are scams. No one is going to give you thousands of dollars in exchange for a few hundred.
    • Do not click on random links in emails sent to you from unknown users. If you're using an email client that can NOT load images by default, use this setting and only load images for the pieces of email you wish to see the images for. The sender can configure the email to "inform" them when images are loaded from something they've sent.
    • Do not use simple passwords that can easily be guessed or quickly cracked via brute force. Techspot shares a yearly list of the most commonly used passwords.
    • Do not use the same usernames and passwords across multiple online services like this forum. If one of those systems becomes compromised it only takes a simple script to try that combination against many other sites.
    • Do not send your username and password for anything to anyone using an online service like email or instant messaging.
    • Do not give services, especially if it claims to be Microsoft, your password. Microsoft doesn't need your password and any decently configured service can do what they need without your password.

    Things to make sure you do:
    • Whenever you access a site that touches any financials (bank, credit card, store site, whatever) use MFA [Multi-Factor Authentication]. If it's not too much of a hassle for you then use it everywhere it's available.
    • Have some sort of antivirus - even the built in Win10 Defender is better than nothing. The best AV today will not be the best tomorrow so do some periodic research on this
    • Back up your important files (outside of the computer that has the files like on an external drive or a backup service)
    • Pay attention to the destination of links provided to you even from people you know. It's often safer to just highlight, copy and paste the link yourself than clicking the link directly
    • Make sure your local firewall is enabled. By default Windows has this enabled but if for any reason you have disabled it try to get it back on. A host-based firewall can help protect you in case anything on your network becomes infected.
    • Lock your screen when you are away from it. You can quickly lock the screen of a Windows machine by hitting Windows + L.
    • Try to get software for installs from the source if possible. If someone is providing you a link and it's not to the author's site then you better know darn well that they are trustworthy... and I mean for sure. (TechSpot downloads is a safe bet if you're unsure)
    • Keep Java patched up all the time. There is a time and a use for Java, but having outdated builds is a very bad idea from a security perspective.
    • If you still need Flash (Adobe Flash Player) then make sure it's constantly patched as well. Unfortunately we're still not completely free from Flash as of 2017.

    (under construction)

    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
    misor, MrBlkfx1, Julio Franco and 4 others like this.
  2. Disable Java.
  3. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,763   +1,159

    Don't install flash
    Reehahs and davislane1 like this.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,416   +2,963

    Take regular breaks from computers.
  5. MrBlkfx1

    MrBlkfx1 TS Evangelist Posts: 857   +205

    Google is your best friend.
    MirekFe, learninmypc and hahahanoobs like this.
  6. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    Learn to use a password manager.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  7. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,763   +1,159

    @LNCPapa , considering it's for new users, don't say "download an antivirus" and go for "install this one" like bitdefender, something that's not intrusive and won't give errors.
    • Use Dropbox free for storing those documents that you can't loose (https://www.dropbox.com/).
    • Enable 2-step authentication in every service that has it available (https://twofactorauth.org/): Two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA) is a method of confirming a user's claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different components, for example a password + a randomly generated code that is sent to your phone, or through an email.
    davislane1 likes this.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,308   +3,715

    More simply put, invest the time to learn the basics about your computer before you jump into that giant "web of things". It's a lot like first learning to drive. Go slow, be careful, and don't let your friends talk you into doing so many stupid things that could cause you to wreck. Also like a gun, you can be safe, learn to respect it, and enjoy the hunt .... or you could just put it to your head and be done with it all!
    learninmypc and wiyosaya like this.
  9. theruck

    theruck TS Booster Posts: 144   +39

    Do not call your relatives to report a problem or an error message you can't even remember
    Do not click on OK or CANCEL before reading the message
    Do not bring cofee and snacks close to your keyboard.
    Do not buy the cheapest hardware on market.
    Cycloid Torus, mcborge and 0192837465 like this.
  10. mcborge

    mcborge TS Guru Posts: 568   +463

    Do not use cracked warez... it just isn't worth the risk of infections.
    Do not keep your tower on the floor, especially if you never intend opening it to clean it.
  11. Have two e-mail accounts, one for friends, people you trust who are important, another for online activities. When that one gets to spam levels too much for you, just delete the account.
    jobeard likes this.
  12. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 729   +472

    Remember to plug in your computer and turn it on before attempting to use it.
    learninmypc and madboyv1 like this.
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    But be sure not to plug the power strip into itself.
    learninmypc and Reehahs like this.
  14. gcarter

    gcarter TS Enthusiast Posts: 100   +35

    When installing new software, don't just keep pressing next, next, next, read the description on each dialogue box!
    MirekFe and learninmypc like this.
  15. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,879   +2,207

    Use one main e-mail address and do not give it out to anyone except to use as a forwarding address for https://sneakemail.com

    Use https://sneakemail.com to generate unique e-mail addresses for all online accounts. It is easy to track/delete/make new e-mail addresses should any of the e-mail addresses get compromised, and e-mail sent to any of these e-mail addresses will get forwarded to your main e-mail address. You will never need to change any of these e-mail addresses (unless they are compromised) if you switch ISPs or have to get a new main e-mail address - all you will need to do is change that main e-mail forwarding address at https://sneakemail.com It costs $24/yr, but IMO, it is well worth it as your main e-mail address will never get compromised.

    Use an ad-blocker.

    Use google as a last resort.

    Results from all search engines continue to get worse. It often takes creative use of search terms to get the search results you want.

    Never use a password manager - if it gets compromised, all your accounts will be vulnerable. Learn to use creative, multi-word, alpha-numeric and special character phrases (I.e., combine all these) or, better yet, two-step authentication.

    Setup a stealth firewall that has no open ports to your home network. If you must have a server running some sort of service like a web server that allows people to connect to it, set it up on a separate external IP address and isolate it from all other networks.

    Stay away from storing anything on the cloud. It will likely get compromised. Buy a set of cheap hard drives (really, hard drives are inexpensive to an extreme these days) and build yourself a mirrored RAID (at least) for all your important documents. Used, high-quality and inexpensive RAID controllers are easy to find on e-bay.

    Watch out for "experts" on forums. ;)
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
    jobeard and Reehahs like this.
  16. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 8,224   +1,261

    And never use the same password for two different websites or services.
    Levi Sterling likes this.
  17. Daithi

    Daithi TS Booster Posts: 85   +97

    Lesser known shortcuts:

    Holding ctrl while clicking and dragging a file will copy instead of moving.

    Shift and right click on empty space will show "Open command window here" in the context menu which opens the command line in the current working directory instead of having to cd cd cd cd cd

    Shift and right click on a file will show "Copy as path" in the context menu which will copy the path to the file to the clipboard

    Windows key + D will minimize all active windows.

    Instead of right click > run as administrator, you can also press ctrl+shift+enter.

    Also not really a shortcut, but I press the menu key > W > T in sequence to quickly create new text documents
  18. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,397   +303

    2 factor authentication is really good. even gog's simple implementation of 2FA is really good. steam and blizzard's android authenticators also add a layer of security to their users.

    and may I add this:
    for shared family computer, let each family member have his/her own windows account.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
    Reehahs likes this.
  19. Levi Sterling

    Levi Sterling TS Booster Posts: 80   +27

    Install malwarebytes, scan monthly. Use an ad blocker of some kind, I recommend ublock. If something looks to good to be true, it is always fake. Learn to manually run Windows updates on the same day you scan. Install CCleaner, run it after windows updates but before the scan with malwarebytes. Dust out your computer once every three months with a can of air.
  20. Levi Sterling

    Levi Sterling TS Booster Posts: 80   +27

    New computer users, you are talking to teenagers and young adults. A third of the people that read this site do not understand what you said.
  21. Shiney

    Shiney TS Booster Posts: 154

    Don't spend a fortune on books and magazines that supposedly teach you about your PC . Read the help files that are included free with your operating system.
  22. Abby Normal

    Abby Normal TS Rookie

    Practice Safe Computing. Purchase a reliable backup package and use it regularly. Just because something new comes along next month, year, whatever, doesn't mean it will do the job better or faster than what you have today.
  23. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,763   +1,159

    I kind of laugh a bit... according to 3/4 of the replies the consensus tip is: "new computer users tip: be pro at computing"
  24. sac39507

    sac39507 TS Addict Posts: 248   +93

    Limit or stop your porn viewing. Such activities will forever ruin your performance. I mean computer performance.
    MirekFe, learninmypc and Julio Franco like this.
  25. delluel

    delluel TS Booster Posts: 39   +7

    What I would say? 1.There's always another way. 2.If it bends a little, don't panic. 3. There's probably not another way. 4. panic every time you press a button.

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