The Most Common At Home IT Challenges
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Just over a week ago I was called on by a friend who had an IT emergency, and so I dutifully sped across to his house as fast as I could. What else could I do? (Plus I was promised beer as a reward...)
Thankfully, it only took a couple of hours to resolve, so it could have been significantly worse. Or even completely irretrievable. Read that blog here.
I’m sure that as techies, we’ve all got horror stories to tell – like the time I had to bend back the pins on a processor that someone had tried to install the wrong way round!
Maybe we should compile a ‘Top 10’ of the worst things we’ve seen in IT from the experiences of TSG’s 300 plus techies.
In the meantime, here's a list of common, home based IT challenges we all face on a daily basis, and what we all need to be aware of:
Backing Up Files
I’ve written on numerous occasion about the importance of Disaster Recovery planning for businesses, and it’s no different in our personal lives. However, it can be a challenge to know what's best.
With most of us now using digital cameras, probably the most important tip for any home user is to ensure that they back up their data on a regular basis to avoid any risk of losing valuable memories.
That could be using hard drives, and I’d certainly recommend keeping multiple copies, especially considering how inexpensive storage has become.
It’s also essential to keep at least one of your external drives somewhere other than beside the computer. There’s little value in backing up your data if it gets stolen with other equipment.
Equally, if your external drive is permanently connected then it’ll be vulnerable to viruses and malware if you don’t have suitable protection in place.
Better still, although I realise that some are still suspicious of the Cloud, is to use an online service such as OneDrive, Dropbox or iCloud. Most offer a reasonable amount of storage free and it’s also a good way to share documents without getting into the challenge of setting up home networks.
Something else which can cause chaos, particularly compatibility issues, is the downloading of free tools from the internet. Often these things can just sit on your computer and you don't know what effect they are having on your other programs.
So do be aware of this, and what impact it can have on the performance of your PC. It’s also important to be aware that anything free might come with malware attached, so do be extra cautious.
UTM devices used in a business context can actually scan the website for anything untoward but that isn’t an option for home users. If you think your computer might have been affected, the Sophos virus removal tool I mentioned in my previous blog will scan your computer for anything harmful (yes, it's a free download, but it is safe!).
Gone are the days when there was just one PC in the household. And the chances are there will also be multiple operating systems.
In fact, as technology has continued to make life simpler for the user, there’s far more complexity behind the scenes – faster networks, more devices...greater threats. See our infographic about the impact of having uncontrolled mobile devices.
And, if you thought the simple USB device to use to share information between computers wasn’t likely to cause any problems, then it’s probably worth a quick look at this article from our friends at Naked Security!
There’s also no getting around the fact that many routine maintenance tasks (such as applying upgrades) are a time-consuming chore, but they do need to be done in order to keep your home IT environment as secure as possible.
One final word of caution is to beware the potential cross-over between home and business use. Freeware (software that you can use without payment) typically doesn’t come with business-grade support and is not supported by the major vendors, so it could cause problems.
It’s also important to check that it’s legal for use in a business context. I suspect that most won’t want to read through lengthy Ts & Cs, so it’s probably better to assume that it won’t be. Some freeware products are released alongside separate paid versions, with more or better features targeted particularly at business users.
Hopefully that's given you some useful guidance, and do let me know about any IT challenges you've faced along the way.