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Beacon Senior News

Debunking technology myths and outdated advice

Jul 03, 2019 10:35AM ● By Adam Cochran

Computer years are like dog years. One human year is equal to more than 10 computer years. That’s not an exact formula, but think about how many digital devices you’ve owned over the past 10 years.

Often, people don’t buy a new digital device because the old one has died. They upgrade because the old device no longer does what they need or want it to do.

Chances are, your old tube TV still works, but its pixel resolution makes it impossible to watch Blu-rays. Perhaps you opted for a smartphone because you found that you needed a full keyboard to text with because nobody would answer your phone calls.

I don’t encourage you to try to keep up with the latest and greatest technology. However, many people fail to upgrade their habits when they upgrade devices.

This month, I’m going to cover a hodgepodge of old habits, myths and outdated advice that people can discard along with their old machines.

Myth #1: Shut off your computer when you're not using it. Modern computers have many power-saving features, and turning the machine completely off might lead to more problems than any consequence of leaving it on. Don't shut it off unless it’s a laptop and you want to save battery.

According to PCWorld, using sleep mode on your computer instead of turning it off costs about 22 cents per month. For comparison, the average 1100-watt microwave costs about 45 cents per week. In other words, you might save 22 cents in electricity by shutting the machine completely down, but your computer will likely miss updates that could prevent a much more expensive problem.

Myth #2: Buy antivirus to protect your computer. In my opinion, antivirus is optional. Most malware doesn’t come through email attachments like it used to. Antivirus programs often fail because the bad guys have found ways to trick computer users into allowing the bad stuff to install.

Antiviruses can still remove some problems but running them in the background typically slows your computer down more than if you actually had a bad program running on your computer.

Myth #3: Using your credit/debit card online is not safe. If your card has a Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or another major brand on it, then it’s guaranteed if anything goes wrong.

Don’t be alarmed with reports that accounts have been breached and information stolen. Almost all security breaches involve a bad guy getting a list of customer information, but that info isn’t usually connected in a usable way. Bad guys can do a lot more damage by getting a job as a waiter or gas station attendant where people physically hand them credit cards and IDs.