Computer security and performance: 8 myths

There are many myths out there about computers, but here are some of the most prevalent I’ve came across over the years of working in the field:

Myth No. 1: Everything unusual or bad is a virus. If something isn’t right with a computer, many people quickly blame it on a virus. It could indeed be something unwanted that was downloaded, but it may not be a true virus. These days we see more adware and junk than true viruses. Though they may all look and feel the same to you, those classified as adware and junk are typically downloaded with a user’s permission, although trickery is often used to get that permission. Furthermore, a computer can act up from some other software or hardware issue.

Myth No. 2: You don’t need antivirus on a new computer. Although a new computer has a fresh install of Windows and maybe less junk installed, it doesn’t mean it’s less susceptible to viruses and malware. I’ve actually seen the exact opposite case many times, where people try to download their favorite programs and end up being tricked into downloading adware, junk and even viruses on that brand new computer.

Myth No. 3: You must regularly run the defragment utility. Since Windows Vista, the Disk Defragmenter utility is supposed to automatically run. So unless you’re running Windows XP or earlier, you shouldn’t have to worry about regularly defragmenting your hard drive(s). If you’re curious, perhaps open the utility every so often to ensure it’s been running.

Myth No. 4: You must regularly clear your temporary files and browser cache. In the earlier days of computers, it was common to regularly delete web browser cache and other temporary files, since hard drives were much smaller and the build-up of files would negatively affect performance. However, with modern computers this type of cleanup typically isn’t needed, but maybe every couple months since it doesn’t give you much or any noticeable improvement in performance.

Myth No. 5: Deleting icons and files will speed up your computer. Although a desktop cluttered with icons might be an eyesore, deleting just the shortcut icons will do nothing to help speed up your computer. The same applies to files and documents you’ve downloaded or created, unless by chance you have so many they’re completely filling your drive. Consider putting your efforts into uninstalling unused programs and removing programs from the Windows startup.

Myth No. 6: Emptying your Recycle Bin permanently deletes the files. As you likely know, deleting files or documents sends them to the Recycle Bin, so you can recover them later if you made a mistake or changed your mind. Every so often you might empty the Recycle Bin, thinking you’ve permanently gotten rid of them. Although Windows itself won’t let you see or open those files or documents anymore, they may be recoverable for some time after with the right tools. This is good in case you want to recover accidentally deleted files, but can be bad for your privacy.

Myth No. 7: Running a cleaner or booster will significantly improve performance. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That saying applies to computers. Be suspicious of any program that promises easy and significant performance improvements. There are certainly some useful tools out there that can help, but there are even more out there that try to take advantage of you.

Myth No. 8: A new computer will be as fast, or faster, than your current one. Just because a computer is new or newer certainly doesn’t make it better or faster than an older one. This is especially the case when comparing many older computers to the cheapest of the new computers. Keep this in mind when deciding on whether to fix your computer or buy a new one. Evaluate and compare the specs of each for a more informed decision.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton and Springfield areas. For more information, visit or call 937-315-0286.