The world of the Internet has provided tenacious urban legends about every aspect of life, and no matter how many times Snopes or another source debunks them, they keep coming back. Computers themselves have their own urban legends and lore that get passed around, built up, and spread like a virus.
Some legends are based on truth, but are either exaggerated or are no longer valid.
Myths come in two forms: misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is when the person who told you or created the rumor didn’t know any better. They may have heard the myth for someone else, or created it based on a misunderstanding.
Disinformation is when a person tells you a myth while knowing it’s not true. These usually come from people who want to make money from a product that claims to stop the problem in its tracks.
Anyway, with that said, let’s look at some of the biggest, most offending computer myths, and explain why they’re nothing but BS.
The internet is filled with viruses, malware, scams, and other attempts to steal your personal info. But a guy isn’t clobbering his keyboard, trying to break into your own personal computer. That’s how the movies depict hackers, and they couldn’t be more wrong.
Most of the time, hacking is automatic, not manual. Malware is installed on your computer and automatically records your keystrokes to access your passwords. Phishing emails are automatically sent out in order to make you give up your personal information.
There is no guy behind the computer 24/7 trying to enter your computer. Instead, the person looking for holes in your PC is usually a bot, which is trying to find a flaw in your PC’s security in order to break into it.
The only time a hacker would personally attack you is if you’re a billionaire with a business or a high-ranking government official. The average Joe is attacked by automatic bots by hackers who have nothing personal against you except they want as much information about strangers as they can.
There used to be a time when you could download a free program that didn’t have a bunch of crap bundled with it that slowed your computer at best, hacked you at worst. Even uTorrent has bundled BS that will increase your GPU usages so they can mine Bit Coin from you.
In truth, every freeware site is a bit dubious these days. FileHippo, SourceForge, Softpedia, Download.com, and all the other major sites have some software bundled with it.
The reason is because freeware is, well, free, so sites bundle other software to make more money, and give you a variety of software to choose from. The sites that are clean and honest usually have limited software you can pick from, so we see why it may be a necessary evil. Our advice would be to go through the installation guide and read everything carefully, and customize your installation so that the crap doesn’t install along with it.
Back in the ‘90s, it was important to shut down your computer when you weren’t using it. After all, it makes the computer last a long time and conserves power. But computers nowadays don’t need a shutdown every night.
Instead, we have sleep mode. Sleep mode allows the computer to go into a state that consumes virtually no power, and when you turn it back on, it’s ready to be used again. On a laptop, it’s even easier. All you have to do is close the lid and it should sleep, provided its settings allow it to.
With a complete shutdown, it’ll close every application you’re using and then you’ll have to go through the booting up process, which is never fun. Rebooting your computer every once in a while is important, but doing it daily will just waste your time.
Automatic updates are hated by many, and we get it. It’s annoying to have a sudden popup telling you that you should stop what you’re doing and restart your computer. (Although Windows 8 and 10 have stopped doing this.)And many have a fear of updates, because updates are believed to break your software.
Granted, some updates do mess up your software, but they’re quickly fixed. In truth, automatic updates are important. Updates help your computer to fix holes in your OS that hackers could break into, and should be installed ASAP. Your software should be constantly updated as well.
While you can manually install updates, many do not have the self-discipline to do so. Instead, you should keep updates installing automatically if you want your computer to stay up-to-date and have the most features.
Internet Explorer is the butt of all jokes in the web browser world. All users seem to fight over Firefox Vs. Chrome Vs. Opera, but leave Internet Explorer out of the equation. Internet Explorer is seen as slow, buggy, and many geeks joke about its only use being to download better browsers. In Windows 10, Microsoft is rebranding Internet Explorer as Edge in order to get away from its infamous reputation.
In truth, IE isn’t that bad nowadays. While it’s still not the default browser, it does make a good substitute. So try it out sometime.
Most modern OSs will use a lot of your computer’s RAM, along with new web browsers. No matter which OS you use, most of your RAM will be consumed along with it.
But this is fat from being a bad thing. Your computer has access to your date much quicker now if it’s stored in RAM. Leaving your temp files in RAM can make accessing your programs much faster. AndRAM not being used has no benefits. If your computer needs more RAM, it’ll delete cached data without you having to do anything.
This is a good thing! When data is in RAM, your computer can access it more quickly. It makes sense to leave applications, data, temporary files, and everything else in RAM where it can speed up access times in the future.
So if you see RAM being used on your computer, don’t use a cleaning program that will clear up your RAM. It won’t speed up your computer. In fact, with those temp files down the drain, your computer may be slower as a result.
As we mentioned before, cleaning your RAM is useless. The same cleaning program that claims it can clean up your RAM may tell you that you should defragment your computer as well. But like with clearing your RAM, it’s not needed. Windows does it for you, and it has its own schedule to defragment your computer. You neve have to do it yourself unless you need to squeeze as much performance out of your PC as possible, but that’s rare. If you want to play a powerful game, maybe you should defrag, but other than that, don’t worry.
This is one of those disinformation rumors, as there are many companies selling defragmenting programs for lots of cash. Instead of spending a hundred bucks on defrag software, you could upgrade your PC by purchasing a part, such as a solid state drive. SSDs make your computer much faster and don’t rely on pseudoscience like defrag programs do.
Third-party defragmentation utilities just aren’t worth paying for, either. For example, Diskeeper Professional costs $70. For that much money, you can actually purchase a solid-state drive and upgrade your computer. Even if the defragmentation utility would help speed up your mechanical hard drive a tiny bit, the SSD will be much, much faster. Yes, you could get cheaper defrag utilities, but you’re better off just putting that money towards and SSD.
In the old days of the Web, there was truth to this. To play a game, you needed to download Shockwave, and to watch a video, you needed QuickTime or Java. However, in the modern-day browser, they come with automatic plugins like HTML5 or Adobe Flash that will play the videos and games for you no matter what.
You may go to a fishy site and see a message saying that a codec, browser update, or other downloadable is needed to watch the video. But this is usually a trap. It will install junkware onto your computer, or even get you a virus.
Instead, back away. If you have a video file that requires you to install codecs, use VLC, a player that will open any type of video. Get VLC from videolan.org, its official site, so you know you can trust it.
If your computer is having performance issues, such as slowdown or not being able to start up at all, people will blame it on viruses and malware. There may have been some truth to this a long time ago, but modern infections are designed to be discreet. They don’t want you to know a Keylogger is secretly running in the background, so the malware takes up little space.
Almost all the time, it’s because there are too many startup programs on your PC, or there are unneeded add-ons on your browser. Go to your settings and adjust what programs start up when you turn on your computer. Delete any add-ons that are unneeded. If the performance issue still exists, it could be a hardware problem. Don’t scapegoat viruses for your slowdown until you eliminate every other option.
Okay, a majority do realize that virus protection programs do have their flaws. Everything in life has a weakness, after all. However, most do believe that an antivirus is effective 99% of the time. In truth, that’s not the case.
Antiviruses are good as a last resort, but are not the only thing you should rely on. Even expensive antiviruses are defeated through cyberattacks.
Most adware, spyware, and bloatware get through your antivirus, creating obnoxious pop-ups and slowdown. In fact, some of the free AV programs have this crap bundled with it.
Granted, an antivirus is still useful, and you do need to have one, but it’s not perfect. Instead, you should have more programs protecting you, including your own common sense.
Cache files are kept on your hard drive, and when you open up a page online, the files are accessed, allowing you faster web browsing and saving you some bandwidth. Cache files include scripts, images, pages, and everything else.
There are cleaning tools, such as CCleaner, that will clear your cache and make your browser act as though it’s exploring the Web for the first time. However, deleting your cache will not speed things up. Because your computer has to download all the files again, clearing the cache will slow everything down. Caching takes up little disk space, so you shouldn’t worry about it.
A few of our rumors have been about things cleaners eliminate, and why cleaning them is useless. But are PC cleaners in general useful? Not exactly. The ones you have to pay for will claim that they can boost your performance by finding a list of problems with your computer once you scan for them in free mode, and then you have to pay to clean them off. In truth, cleaners just delete some temp files, which can be vital if you want more space. But free software such as Windows Disk Cleanup and CCleaner can help you do that.
But what about driver updaters, that claim to give you the latest drivers available? They’re not needed, either. Your drivers will get updated through built-in software, and Windows Update does provide you with driver updates.
Finally, we have paid uninstallers. While you can uninstall programs through Windows, paid uninstallers claim that they can uninstall more cleanly. This usually means they’ll delete more temp or registry files than the traditional uninstaller would. But deleting those extra files will not make your computer run any faster. The only time you’d need an uninstaller is when the program won’t go away through traditional means.
These programs are the PC equivalent of alternative medicine, with its sole purpose being to separate you from your money. Instead of paying money on programs, save it to upgrade your hardware if you want a real boost to your performance. If you really need these programs, look for free versions, and avoid bundled crap if you can.
And those are the biggest myths about PCs out there. Of course, this is just a drop in the bucket, as there are a slew of other rumors, but these are the big ones. Other technologies, from tablets to phones to video game systems, have their rumors as well. By arming yourself with the facts, you won’t be wasting your time, or your money, with useless misconceptions.