5 tips to get the most out of your computing devices

Five recommended activities for your mobile/cellular phones, laptops, PCs and tablet to help you wrap up 2013, and prepare your devices for 2014.

17 mobile computing devices by umpcportal.com (flickr)

To varying degrees, we are inundated with a range of computing devices, such as mobile/cellular phones, laptops, PCs, tablet computers, etc., and increasingly, we depend on them to help us stay connected and keep our lives in order. As we approach the end of 2013 and start to ready ourselves for the incoming year, let us spend some time taking stock of our devices and preparing them for 2014. Below are five recommended activities to guide that exercise.

1.  Backup files

When was the last time you backed up the content on your devices? For many of us, it is not a regular practice.  In addition to the files you generated, which would include documents, music, photos and videos, consider backing up your device settings, which should you have to wipe the device clean, would make restoration much easier. Most computing devices can be configured to perform automatic and regular backups. However, do double-check that the backups are indeed being done and that all desired content has been included.

2.  Update software

For many among us, we dread software updates. Based on past experience, a perfectly fine programme can be riddled with problems after installing the manufacturer-recommended updates. However, these updates are essential to correct vulnerabilities and unstable features in the software. Hence it is highly recommended, after performing a comprehensive backup, that some time is spent getting your software up to date.

3.  Clean and service devices

In the downtime of Christmas and New Year, consider spending a few moments cleaning all of the hardworking computing devices in your life.  The exercise would include:

  • cleaning the screen
  • wiping the external surfaces with a damp cloth
  • using compressed air to clean keyboards and connector ports, and
  • if possible, removing and cleaning the keyboard keys.

Cleaning guides are available online, which also advise on important precautions to take when undertaking this activity.

Additionally, air vents and keyboards let in a lot of dust, which settle on the internal electronics and can affect a device’s performance. Hence for laptops and PCs in particular, it would also be useful to seek expert assistance in cleaning them internally.

4.  Change passwords

Experts agree that we should change our passwords regularly, regardless of whether we suspect they have been compromised. Although this recommendation might seem to be more trouble than it is worth, it is still advisable to spend some time and revisit all the accounts for which you have passwords, and decide which ones might need changing.

Many of us have a set of “go-to” passwords that we use in a pinch. When conducting this review exercise, do consider whether you have been using the same password too often, and whether for important accounts, such as those for banking and those that have your credit card information on file, whether stronger passwords are necessary.

5.  Learn to use more of your devices

Finally, the tech space is changing so rapidly that it can be a challenge to keep up. Many of the devices we own have a wealth of features and capabilities that we do not use, but if we did, they could add value to our personal or professional lives. Additionally, hundreds of new applications – many of which are either free or nominally priced – are released daily, and could again remedy a deficiency we have identified. Hence be prepared to do some research on your devices to more fully appreciate all that they can do, along with any other applications that might be available to improve the user experience and help you get the most out of them.


Image credit:   umpcportal.com (flickr)


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