Common Tips for Computer Users

Here are some common tips for using computers which may help at Clemson or anywhere you use computers.

Tips on purchasing:

  • Check out academic pricing when you are considering buying software.
  • Keep an eye out for your warranty's end date. If you start having problems around that date, make you sure report problems the vendor as quickly as possible.
  • Remember to get spare printer cartridges for emergencies.
  • If you are buying a notebook computer, you are paying for its portability and trading that for performance. The guiding question for your decision should be "do you really need it?"
  • Check with your Major's college to see what their might require or suggest.
  • It is a good idea to purchase a "good" surge protector, but don't overdo it. A good surge protector will cost less than $50. Remember, no surge protector can guarantee it will stop a direct surge from a lightning strike.
  • In apartments and dorms, you should purchase renter's insurance for your PC and other valuables to protect against theft. For home owners, make sure your home owners' insurance covers the computer. Register your software and hardware.

Tips for general use:

  • Update your virus software and definitions weekly.
  • Backup your data on different media (i.e. a hard drive, a zip drive, a floppy drive).
  • Save a tree, check your print preview options before printing.
  • Defragment your hard drive every three months.
  • CD-ROM players should be opened and closed from the button on the drive. Never close it by pushing in the tray with your hand.
  • Don't just turn off a computer, always "Shut down" a computer from the menu (Start menu for Windows and Special Menu for Macs).
  • Turn off a computer before connecting any device (i.e. printers, scanners). Note, when connecting USB or IEEE 1394 (also referred to as E-link (Sony) and Fireware (Apple)) devices you don't need do this.
  • Don't "over secure" your computer and files with security software (BIOS passwords, password protection, screen savers, etc.). The best security is a locked door. If you do use these measures, be sure to remember the passwords. If you lose them often there is often no options for recovering the data, so be careful.
  • Learn how to create strong passwords. If someone knows your password they have access to your accounts and resources. Protect it as your would your ATM PIN number.
  • Crashes will happen on a computer. Prepare for them by saving your work every 5-10 minutes (especially save before printing).
  • If you find a virus on a document or an email message, tell the person who gave it you. (Exception is email viruses, don't sent a message back to users. Some virus "mimic" users names, so you by alerting the right person if you reply to message.

Tips about using e-mail:

  • Email messages are by their nature not secure. Never send anything in email you would not want read aloud to crowd of people.
  • Never open executables you receive in email, unless you know where it came from and what it is.

Tips on getting help:

  • Know your support numbers for your hardware and software vendors. The CCIT's Customer Support Center is (864-656-3494) and the Hardware Repair Shop is (864-656-4454). You can also send email to
  • Keep your warranty and invoice information for your computer purchased. When you need warranty repairs or technical support and they may require this paperwork.
  • Learn how to use your user manual to find answers about software and hardware. Most of the time the answer you want is in there.
  • When you need help from others, it helps to give them information that will narrow down the scope of your problem. Make sure you have versions of the software you were using, the type of computers you are using, and anything else that will help them eliminate possibilities.
  • Consider extending warranties to 4 yeas at puchasing or even before the end of warrenty period. Most vendors have programs which allow you to buy an extra year of service.
  • Keep in mind, accidental damage is not under most warranties. Insurance options like complete care and safeware protect against limited forms of accidential damge. Know your warranty and insurance policy terms.