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Common Personal Computer Myths

Myth: Your system resources are too low and that's causing your problems.
This is a common cop-out used by tech support personnel, since it's an easy way to blame your problem on something else. You are liable to be told this if your system resources are anywhere below the range 70-80%. The reality is that available system resources in that range are not only very common, but in no way could that cause any problems! As long as you are not trying to open up any new programs or windows, you can easily run with system resources as low as 10%. Unless your system resources have dropped to a level like 10%, don't ever take this as a reason why you are having problems.

Myth: If you are out of free disk space, deleting your temporary internet files will solve the problem.
Although this may be true as a very short-term solution, it's a pretty much useless solution in the long-term, because all those temporary files will just come back as soon as you start using the Internet again, and so you will be right back in the same situation. If you are running low on free disk space, you need permanent solutions (for advice on how to better deal with this type problem, click here).

Myth: Defragging your hard drive will give you a significant increase in performance and/or increase your available free space significantly and/or solve problems you are having.
For the most part, this is just not true -- although there is a small grain of truth here. The reality is that the increases you will see in both performance and free space are negligible, and will more than likely be negated after a couple of hours of normal usage. Defrag utilities date back to the early days of computing, when disk drives were small and slow (at least relative to what you see today). And back then, yes -- occasionally defragging your hard drive would yield some sustained benefits. But with the size and speed of today's drives, defragging a drive is for the most part a waste of time.

Sometimes you will also hear someone suggest defragging the hard drive as a solution to some type of problem with a program that is not working correctly (i.e., program or system crashes). That's total hogwash. All a defrag does is re-organize the data on your hard disk. There's just no way that's going to fix a misbehaving program!  As with Myth #1, don't ever let a tech support person tell you a defrag is the answer to your problem.

Myth: Reformatting your hard drive and re-installing everything is the only way to solve your problems.
Some times things do get so fouled up, that the most expedient solution is to do a "clean" re-install of the Windows operating system -- this is certainly very much a reality, particularly when dealing with earlier releases of Windows 95 and 98. HOWEVER, there's rarely any need to go so far as to reformat your hard drive! When you do that, you lose everything that you have -- data files, documents, program settings, spread sheets, saved email, everything! And there's rarely any need to resort to a reformat. The only time you would want to reformat is if you were actually having disk read/write errors. And if that's the case, reformatting is probably only going to be a temporary solution at best. You are usually going to be better off simply replacing the hard drive. But if you are not having hard drive errors, but just all kinds of other problems -- then there's simply no need for the reformatting part of this. Just wipe out all the Windows files on your hard disk and then do a "clean" install of just the Windows files. Although you will still have to re-install all your old applications, you at least save all your old data this way. For a good set of detailed instructions on how to do this, see:


Myth: If you don't use a screen saver, you will ruin your computer monitor.
This is another bit of advice that had some validity many years ago, but is just no longer true. It's virtually impossible with today's monitors to leave an image on the screen long enough for it to suffer from "phosphor burn-in". There's certainly no downside to using a screen saver, and many people find them fun to use as a way of "expressing themselves". And you can even put your computer to good use with some screen savers by using programs like the UD Cancer research project, or the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) screen saver. But there's certainly no necessity for using a screen saver.

Myth: You can secure your Windows 95/98/ME computer and keep unauthorized people out by using the Windows login screen.
The reality is that there is NO security in any version of Windows 9X. When prompted for a login password, all you have to do is press the [Esc] key and you bypass that screen and have access to everything that is on that computer. The only purpose that login screen serves is for accessing any local area network that the computer might be connected to. But even then, if you are relying on that login screen to secure your local network, you're dreaming -- as anyone can get around that login by simply deleting one file from the computer. If you really want to secure your Windows 9X computer, you need to do it at the hardware level, probably with some type of BIOS password (see your computer manual for how to do that). However, if security is a real concern for you, then you have no business running Windows 95/98/ME -- you should be on the Windows 2000 platform, which indeed does have very good built-in security.