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.
  • Check with your Major's college to see what they might require or suggest.
  • It is a good idea to purchase a "good" surge protector; a good surge protector will cost less than $50. Remember, surge protectors cannot guarantee protection against 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. 

Tips for general use:

  • If you are not using Trend Micro, update your virus software and definitions weekly.
  • Backup your data on various media (i.e. a hard drive, USB flash drive, Google drive).
  • Save a tree, do you really need a printed hard copy?
  • Defrag your hard drive every three months; this is not necessary for solid state drives.
  • DVD drives 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" or "Sleep" a computer from the menu (Start menu for Windows and Special Menu for Macs).
  • Secure your computer and files with security software (BIOS passwords, password protection, screen savers, etc.). Remember that 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 no options for recovering the data, so be careful.  With BIOS passwords, the motherboard will have to be replaced if the BIOS password is forgotten.
  • 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 and for important work).
  • 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). You can also send email to
  • Keep your warranty and invoice information for your computer. When you need warranty repairs or technical support, they may require this paperwork.
  • Always remember Google is our friend.  Sometimes googling a question or issue gives excellent results.
  • 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 at time of puchase or even before the end of warranty 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. (Dells and Lenovos purchased through Clemson have 4-year warranty and accidental coverage.)  Insurance options like Safeware protect against limited forms of accidental damage. Know your warranty and insurance policy terms.
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