Computers have been a big part of our daily lives for decades now, yet despite of this (or maybe precisely because of it!) there are still lots of myths and misconceptions surrounding even the most basic aspects of their use.
In this post we want to do a bit of clarifying, so we’ve put together some of the most common misconceptions floating around and why you should stop believing them, starting with:
10. More is always better when it comes to performance
When you add more RAM, you reduce your system’s dependency on virtual memory, which will make it seem like it’s running faster. This isn’t always the case when you add extra cores, where quality trumps quantity every time. This means, for example, that a top-of-the-line quad-core processor will almost always be better than your average octo-core processor.
9. You need to defragment your drive often
One of the most common myths about computer maintenance holds that you have to defragment your hard drive from time to time to keep it running smoothly. This is simply not true.
Windows computers now come with a built-in defragmentation utility which runs in the background on a pre-determined schedule. Macs, on the other hand, have a file system (called OS X HFS+) which defragments files automatically in a process called Hot File Adaptive Clustering (or HFC).
Not only that, but most PCs nowadays come with SSD or flash storage which should NOT be defragmented, as that process is harmful to SSD.
8. Paid “cleaner” software improves performance
Paid cleaner programs usually advertise themselves as very useful software which will greatly improve your computer’s performance by doing things like cleaning registries, downloading driver updates, uninstalling programs you can’t manually install, and more. But in fact, not only is this software unnecessary, it sometimes is used to actually deliver the malware!
To be clear, registry entries are tiny pieces of software with no impact on your disk space or system performance. You don’t need a special program to download and install driver updates, which is something fairly straightforward to do on your own.
Same with paid uninstallers – if you can’t uninstall a program completely the usual way, the files left behind are simply registry entries which shouldn’t be of any concern to you.
7. You don’t need antivirus software
This mistaken belief is especially common with Mac users. And yes, for a long time the Apple were relatively virus-free, however the reason for that is simply because Windows was far more dominant on the market at it was more profitable to focus on computers running Microsoft’s OS. This is no longer the case, so Mac users have to start thinking about their system’s security as well.
You could also think you’re safe from viruses because you don’t do anything online that’s potentially risky, like download stuff via torrents or visit shady websites. However the truth is, you’re never completely safe while online, so no matter how careful you think you are, you’re not doing enough if you don’t also have a good antivirus program installed.
6. Viruses and spyware are slowing down your computer
One of the first things you are told to do when you notice your computer has started slowing down is check for malware (viruses, spyware etc.). While this might have been the case in the past, the way things currently stand it’s actually counterproductive for malware creators to tip you off in any way that the malicious software has infected your system – so if your computer has been compromised, it’s unlikely you’ll notice.
In fact, when your computer runs slower, it’s probably too many programs, plugins, or add-ons running, or lack of disk space.
5. Regularly turning your computer on and off is bad, or not turning your computer off at night is bad
In this case, there isn’t a clear cut answer – it ultimately depends on your preferences, but there’s nothing actually bad about turning your computer on and off regularly, or leaving it on at night.
It is, however, a good idea to turn your PC off from time to time, as it not only saves power but also helps prolong the life of its components.
4. A particular web browser is better at protecting you from threats than the others
When it comes to protecting you from various online threats, no one browser is better than the others. Security has almost nothing to do with which program you use to surf the net, so your choice of Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer won’t make any difference. The best protection from malware is a good antivirus program, so focus on that!
3. Deleting files makes them disappear and to be extra certain of that, use a magnet
When you delete a file, it might no longer be accessible to you, but it’s not actually disappeared from the hard drive. Deleting data merely means the space they used to occupy is available, so until something new is recorded in their place, those files can still be recovered.
According to another common myth, you can permanently erase a hard drive using a magnet. While this might have worked in the days of the floppy disk, modern hard disks and flash storage devices are largely unaffected by magnets. To permanently get rid of your data, you could either use a special program designed make multiple passes on your hard drive, or simply drill a dozen or so holes into the thing.
2. Macs are better than PCs, or Macs are overhyped and overpriced
First of all, the entire argument is a bit pointless, since Macs are also PC, only they run OS X instead of Windows of Linux. But people to gather behind Windows or Mac like they do behind sports teams, so the passion is somewhat understandable.
The truth is, it’s really difficult to say which computer is better – it ultimately depends on the needs and tastes of the user, which is impossible to estimate objectively. However when it comes to prices, a quick look to the high-end devices on both sides shows that the difference is either not that big, or non-existent.
1. Building your own PC is a good way to save money
This was definitely true in the past, when there weren’t so many options available to consumers. And it can also be true today, if you know what you’re doing and you want to build a high-end machine. But for most users, buying a pre-built model is the way to go, even if you’re on a budget.