Six Simple Ways to Become a Good Computer “Driver”

In today’s workplace, using a computer is like driving a car—we all need to know a few essential things about our PC to get our work done problem-free. Bring these six simple practices into your computer-operating life and you’ll save yourself some “driving” stress!

  1. Know how your computer gets power. Yes, this is REALLY basic, but you’d be surprised how many help desk calls originate with dislodged power cords. Find the cord that leads from your PC to an electrical outlet. Check both ends of that connection if your computer won’t start. If you use a laptop, use your power supply when you’re at your desk so your battery can recharge. If you use a docking station for your laptop, make sure you know how to properly dock the machine and how to tell if the docking station is turned on.
  2. Laptop users: Learn the proper way to plug in your computer’s power supply. The power jolts that sometimes happen when you connect and disconnect from an outlet can damage computers. Always plug the power cord into the electrical outlet BEFORE you connect it to your laptop. And, always disconnect from your laptop before you unplug the power cord. Packing up your laptop with the power cord still attached might save a second or two of time, but what does a little time mean compared to the hassle of dealing with a fried PC component?
  3. At the end of the work day, log off your machine—don’t shut it down. If your computer is turned off, important services set up to run at night can’t do their jobs. Your anti-virus program, for example, can’t install the latest information it has on protecting your machine. Today’s computers don’t use much power. Keep your system current and protected by leaving your machine on.
  4. If someone else manages your organization’s network, log off at the end of the day. Yes, it’s convenient to come to work and find everything on your computer desktop just as you left it. However, your IT management service won’t be able to apply updates or fix problems if you’re logged in. And, overnight power outages might corrupt any applications or documents you have open.
  5. Laptop users: Know what you’re doing when you close that laptop lid. You control what happens when you close the lid. Find the power settings on your computer, learn about your choices (Power off? Sleep? Hibernate?), and choose what you need. Tip: If you know you’ll be transporting your laptop, make sure you turn it off before you shut the lid, no matter what power option you have set. You can damage your hard disk if you don’t.
  6. Use passwords that are hard to guess and keep them secret. You know things about yourself that almost no one else knows—the address of the house you grew up in, the name of your favorite pet, the year your favorite sports team won the championship. Use that information as the foundation of a unique password that’s easy for you to remember. Example: My favorite pet’s name was Jumpy. Jumpy was my pet when I lived at 6523 Mason St. I add a “special character” (things like @, #, $, %…) and get a good password: Jumpy!6523. After a couple uses, you’ll remember that password. You won’t have to write it down on a sticky note and post the note on your monitor where clients and cleaning people and temporary employees can see it.

You don’t have to know anything about how a car engine works to be a good driver. Likewise, you don’t need to know how a computer works (yikes!) to be a more knowledgeable “driver” of your PC. These six simple practices will get you off to a good start.