Computer Myths

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There are a number of myths and thoughts that we like to hold on to when it comes to working with computers.

If the Computer is Not Working Well it Needs De-Fragmenting!

  • This is top of the list of Myths!
  • Maybe this was once true. Maybe... A heavily fragmented disk will "slow" down because the computer can not easily read chunks of data in one go into its cache (by 1% or so? i.e. insignificant). A cache is a store of data that may or may not be used but has a high chance of being used. Windows computers for example like to use approximately 1/4 of all system memory as a disk cache...
  • So if your computer is not working properly... it is not due to a fragmented disk!
  • (If you'd like to know more have a look here: Wikipedia on Defragmentation
  • If you want a good free defragmentor try jkDefrag.

If I Have a Problem With the Windows I Need to Re-Install it That Will Solve the Problem...

  • It might... However, it may create 4 more and you may loose all or some of your data! Re-installation really ought to be a last ditch attempt as to properly install Windows, all your data and all your programs requires that you have:
    1. A Windows disk and valid licence number to type in
    2. The driver disks for your hardware
    3. Your software installation disks for all your software and their licence codes
    4. Your backed up data to be re-installed in the right places (ever backed up and restored an email program and address book?! Fun - not!)
    5. All your network settings and printer settings and email settings...
    6. A lot of time...
    7. Bon Chance!
  • Spending time sorting out an existing problem is more likely to resolve it. There is a reason computer stores say you should re-install - its to do with being paid by the hour...
  • If you caught a virus/trojan, however, it is recommended that you do reinstall everything, to be sure that it is gone.

I Bought This Computer From My Friend and Therefore I Now Own the Software on it

Or I have a cd of the software, so I own it

  • Actually, you probably only own the hardware and it is highly unlikely you own ANY software! It is normal for you to buy a licence to use software. That is all you pay for. You may get a CD to install the software with but that piece of round plastic is simply a free drinks coaster! So DO NOT LOOSE the flimsy piece of card with the licence agreement on it and the installation code! Some licences are stuck to your computer...
  • Another annoying thing is that licences are often not transferable. You may be able to peel off the sticker and pass it to someone but under the agreement you may not be given that right!
  • However, some software you really will own e.g. Firefox and Thunderbird for example are truly yours! You may give it away or EVEN SELL IT if you wish!
  • See YWAM England's policy on software use Software theft for lots more sensible and helpful information

A Firewall Will Protect Me on the Internet

  • Well, it will and it won't!
  • It won't protect you from programs you choose to download and activate. It won't protect you from flaws in the your web browser software or email program. It won't prevent a phishing attack. Keeping your software up to date will help and avoiding file-sharing software or illegal software or music/movie sharing sites. These are often full of malicious software.
  • It will protect you against people trying to pry into your machine remotely. You may not know it but most Windows machines have open "ports", that is points where the computer offers to listen to and talk with other computers to share information. You may or may not know what these are. A Firewall will block all access both inwards and outwards on these ports except for those ports you explicitly agree can be opened.
  • Of course if you know for sure you are running no software using these ports you don't need a firewall! Some Linux OS's come with no firewall running but that is because they do not open any ports.
  • If you want to know how open your machine is visit the Shields Up! program at and test your machine.

I Can Trust Emails as Much as Plain-Old Snail Mail

Emails are rather like post-cards: everybody can (could) read them, and nobody guarantees that the sender's name is correct. See also: Authentication: Is he who he says he is? and Sending Encrypted Emails.

If I only had a program that does X ... everything would be fine

While it is true that IT can help in many areas, we shouldn't forget that far more problems arise in the personal realm. Don't try to force everyone to use a specific software when the actual problem is a deeper, non-technical one! And while powerful software solutions (like Adobe Suite, SAP, etc.) are great, they also require a great deal of experience to use them properly!

Need more help with technology? Check out this article on the best apps to use as a missionary in YWAM by clicking here.