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Clearing up eight computer and tech myths

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 4/5/21

Computers, mobile devices, and tech in general can be quite demystifying to those that didn’t grow up with them. Over the years of working in the industry, I’ve heard many different myths and here I share some:

You must regularly clear your temp files and cache: In the earlier days of computers, it was common to regularly delete cache and other temporary files, since hard drives were much smaller and the build-up of files would negatively affect performance. However, with modern computers this type of cleanup typically isn’t needed, but maybe every couple months since it doesn’t give you much or any noticeable improvement in performance. Consider putting your efforts into running a malware scanner, like MalwareBytes Antimalware, instead.

However, some with privacy concerns may prefer to clear temp files like cookies more often to help prevent tracking by advertisers.

You must regularly defrag your hard drive: Since Windows Vista, the Disk Defragmenter utility is supposed to automatically run. So, unless you’re running Windows XP or earlier (like a 15 – 20 year-old computer), you shouldn’t have to worry about regularly defragmenting your hard drive(s). If you’re curious, perhaps open the utility every so often to ensure it’s been running.

Your icons and files are slowing down your computer: Although a Windows desktop cluttered with icons might be an eyesore, deleting just the shortcut icons will do nothing to help speed up your computer. Basically, the same applies to files and documents you’ve downloaded or created, unless by chance you have so many they’re completely filling your drive. Consider putting your efforts into uninstalling unused programs and removing programs from the Windows startup list.

Running a cleaner or booster will significantly help: Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That saying applies to computers.

Be suspicious of any program that promises easy and significant performance improvements.

There are certainly some useful tools out there that can help, but there are even more out there that try to take advantage of you.

Your computer is dead if it doesn’t startup: Many times, when your computer crashes and won’t turn on correctly, a tech can repair it. Sometimes the repair is worth it and sometimes not. In either case, keep in mind many times your files are still intact and can be recovered by a computer tech. So, don’t just throw out a computer that doesn’t boot up. Sometimes the entire hard drive fails and nothing can be saved, but if the files are important, it’s well worth the small investment in having a computer tech try the recovery.

A new device will be faster or better than an old one: This is totally dependent upon the specs of the old and new devices, and the condition of your old one. A new computer or mobile device can certainly be slower than one purchased years ago. This is usually more of the case if the old device was a higher-end option back when you bought it and now you’re trying to replace it with a lowerend device. I suggest contacting a local reputable tech service for an evaluation and their suggestions before purchasing.

Buying cheap is OK if you don’t do much: Some say if don’t do a lot on the computer, smartphone, or tablet, it’s OK to go with a cheap one. I call this a myth because even simple tasks can be noticeably slower on cheaper devices and more annoying on cheap mobile devices that have poor touch screens. I’m not saying everyone needs to spend $1,000 on each device, but I suggest a middle-of-the-road option even for basic users.

Emptying your Recycle Bin permanently deletes the files: As you likely know, deleting files or documents sends them to the Recycle Bin, so you can recover them later if you made a mistake or changed your mind. Every so often you might empty the Recycle Bin, thinking you’ve permanently gotten rid of them. Although Windows itself won’t let you see or open those files or documents anymore, they may be recoverable for some time after with the right tools. This is good in case you want to recover accidentally deleted files, but can be bad for your privacy.

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