Best and worst computing advice you know?

When you click umpteenth article or post with some kind of computing advice you don’t really expect novel. You sure hope, but mostly it is something old and beaten.

It is strange to see that much of good advice is still ignored and how bad advice gets repeated to this day. Here are some of my favorite and “favorite” advices from both sides.

Makes sense

Use portable software.

Natively portable software is not a best choice for corporate and multi-user environments, but is totally awesome otherwise. It doesn’t interfere with anything. It is much easier to maintain, move around and backup. It plain makes sense, unlike crazy trap of Windows registry.

Subscribe to RSS feeds.

I vaguely remember times when it took me few hours every evening to get through batch of fresh IT news. It fills me with terror and I have to look at FeedDemon to ensure that RSS feeds were indeed invented and I no longer have to go through that. Ever.

Feeds might have started simply as a way to streamline news consumption, but they evolved into easy, flexible and highly powerful format. Precisely filter what you want to read, automate downloads, get fresh wallpapers (ok, last one didn’t work out well for me).

Script/automate/macro.

Really really lot of computing is repetitive. Some moments of such are noticeable and boring, but it takes effort to really figure them out and get rid of those. Most complex software titles come with native macro tools. Some programming languages like AutoIt are openly dedicated to interface automation. There are research into making it extremely user friendly.

If something can up your computing experience by really large margin – this is it.

Read the freaking manual.

Not something users like to do and even less developers like to write and maintain. However documentation is invaluable. It is great source to look into advanced functions and usage scenarios, pick up recently added functionality and save time with adopting hotkeys and other shortcuts.

Not really

Overclock hardware.

Very few people recognize overclocking for what it is – sport and challenge. Most fell under false impression that manufacturers are retarded enough to sell more capable hardware at lower prices. In some cases that is indeed the case. Most of the time it is only a way to waste money and lose warranty for performance gain that won’t be even noticeable with human perception.

Change platform/OS.

Every operating system (that is still alive) has advantages and users that go for them. It is however absolutely disgustingly crazy to change OS just because. Your platform is serious commitment. Its interface is literally wired into your brain and reflexes, your knowledge spins around platform-specific sites and information.

Jumping to another platform without clear understanding is like launching yourself naked into outer space because stars are more shiny over there.

Deep tweak your system.

Optimization is a process of tuning system for better performance of specific task. As a general rule systems are excellently tweaked to perform most common task, that is generic usage, out of the box.

Making changes to that setup requires understanding of what you are doing and why, not deleting stuff because random site over there said so.

What are your favorite (or not) advices?

What advice had changed your experience for better? Which made you and your computer miserable? Share them in the comments! :)

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11 Comments

  • Here’s a tricky one:
    Worst advice: don’t use antivirus software.

    Best advice: use your head, don’t use antivirus software :)

    I guess it depends on the user =)

  • Best advice: Stop clicking. If it didn’t work when you clicked it before, it either will or wont eventually but your computer is neither afraid of your impatience nor hurt when you click or type “harder”.
    Worst advice: “Type regedit in the run box, and then you can just look through there and get rid of anything you don’t think you need.” (I saw this on one of the forums. Thought I was going to have a stroke.)

  • @Klemen

    Tricky indeed. Sadly there is no alternative to AV for regular user. It is better than nothing and as much as regular user can manage by himself.

    @Rush

    Yeah, nervous clicking is bad. And people who do that are least likely to give a damn about advices.

    Messing with registry – that kind of advice just makes you mad and wanting to immediately fix Internet. :)

  • Best advice: Don’t accumulate piles of software installed in your hard drive.

    Worst advice: Delete the folder of that program for rid of him.

  • @Chocobito

    Using portable covers “do not install loads of stuff” nicely. It’s a pity there are always must-have apps remaining that don’t have portable version. :(

    Deleting to uninstall actually passes fine, but only as last resort. There are plenty of cases (especially with native Windows installer) when overly complex uninstallation procedure just fails and you are stuck with unwanted and/or broken program.

  • Update software or OS.
    Sometimes it is good advice sometimes bad.

  • @Sandrina

    That one could and should be excellent advice, thus many people give it as such. It’s a pity that there are always some developers that screw update process or break things in new version.

    It hits especially hard with portable, where there is much less stuff to worry about. Distribs from PortableApps sometimes drive me crazy with clashes of portable packaging with apps’ native update mechanisms.

  • Best:
    Defrag your hard drive

    Worst:
    Clean your registry.

  • @Samer

    Yep, defrag is excellent advice! Don’t know how I missed it in post. Maybe cause I don’t do it much lately since upgrade to SSD at my desktop.

    Latter I’d correct to “clean registry with this crappy tool”. I am quite content with CCleaner in this regard. It is enough to get some obvious garbage cleaned out, but shallow and well developed to not break anything.

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