We all have bad habits, but some may be more troublesome than you think. From things we can do as individual users to tech solutions to solve larger business problems, there’s plenty we could be doing to make more efficient use of our time and money. We’ve rounded up our top ten bad tech habits you can break in 2014.
1. Clean Your Devices
Touchpads and phones are the main culprit, and cleaning your devices is not about public displays of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – there really are lots of germs lurking on them. An antibac wipe a day will keep the germs at bay.
Also, any device with a motorised fan should be treated to a twice yearly clean out to prevent clogging and subsequent over heating which can lead to component or device failure.
2. Design a Secure Password System
This issue has been well documented and debated and we see password hacks all too frequently still. The solution to needing to memorise 100 passwords is to develop your own personal naming system that is easy for you to remember, but avoids all the common combinations that hackers will try first. For example, you might pick a childhood song as your theme and adapt this to include numbers and punctuation, then for each time you need a new password you add a new logical and numerical component:
For Facebook: W4lk1ng0nsunsh1ne!fb1
For Twitter: W4lk1ng0nsunsh1ne!tw1
It is advisable to include a capital letter, a lower case letter, a number and a punctuation mark in your design to account for all levels of password strength indicators.
3. Back up your Data
There is no excuse for not doing this anymore, with a plethora of physical devices, low cost cloud back up solutions, through to fully resilient business back up solutions – there is something to fit every wallet and budget.
In this more disposable era the physical aspects of our businesses are actually easier to replace – what is not is the intelligence and knowledge. Guard it well!
4. Keep Updated
Software updates are there for a reason – whether it be bug fixes or to plug security holes. Making sure you update your systems and apps is an essential part of maintaining a secure and stable device. Automatic update solutions are available if you are the IT administrator of a team of tech users and take a great deal of hassle out of this operation.
In fact, not keeping updated can throw your business into non-compliance and leave you vulnerable to security issues. This links to point 2 about password management - leaks in user behaviour can only be contained if the business is fully up to date.
A perfect example is Windows XP - within many businesses XP linked devices are still firmly integrated into systems and workflows. On 8th April 2014 Microsoft will completely cease producing updates such as bug fixes and security patches, so literally overnight your business may become exposed to multi-level attacks. Being such a well-publicised event it is almost certain that someone somewhere will be looking to take advantage of this situation and it is highly advisable to pre-empt this and plan for a suitable upgrade plan with your service provider.
5. Don’t use your Laptop on your Lap
The name is to blame, but laptops weren't actually intended to be used directly on your lap because of the health implications from simple skin dryness to fertility issues. Do try and use a table or a lap desk shield for better browsing.
6. Reduce your Printing
We feel that the paperless office is beyond the reach of most businesses, but there are efforts that can be made to both reduce costs and do our bit to save the planet.
The cloud again solves the problem of needing printed copies of everything as a well-designed and secure cloud storage solution will take care of that.
For businesses there is even software that can be deployed to measure printing behaviours and identify over-users to tackle.
7. Recycle your Old Devices
Batteries and circuit boards are unfortunately hazardous if dumped into landfills, so recycling is the best action for any old devices lurking in dusty store cupboards, and it is made easy by most service providers.
Remember to make sure your data is completely wiped when any devices are decommissioned too!
Here is a respectable computer recycling guide from Which?
8. Reboot your PC Regularly
Despite advances in technology, this is still an important aspect of keeping on top of your PC health. Many applications require a reboot after they've been installed or updated and therefore will remain inefficient until the reboot has occurred.
Windows 8 has a much improved reboot time so you no longer need to schedule in the tea round while waiting for your PC to restart.
9. Simple Security
If you are mobile with your devices then keeping your kit and your data secure is a big issue. Being sensible about not leaving equipment in plain sight and locking your devices when they are unattended are common best practice. Even if you pop away from your desk using the lock screen functions are highly recommended for both common security and complex compliance reasons.
If data protection is a big issue then Remote Desktop solutions such as VMware View can be considered to make applications and data available without being tied to a particular device, meaning if a device is stolen or compromised, the data is not.
10. Revise your Email Etiquette
You may have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of unnecessary emails – and we’re not just talking about spam.
The problem has become so great in places that instances of banning internal emails have been popping up to try and solve the problem. If that is too radical for you, you could try the following email management tips:
Stop replying to all
Sending an email to ten people because you don’t know who can help then means that duplication of efforts goes into hyper drive and ultimately clutters everyone’s inbox with everyone’s replies. Use ‘Reply To All’ sparingly.
Lazy emails make more work for someone else. Get better at the art of sending short but effective emails which summarise the details of an attachment with clear instructions to the recipient about the necessary action. Simply forwarding with ‘FYI’ or ‘See Attached’ is an inconsiderate interruption to someone else’s email time management.
There are various preferences to managing unopened email from 1-touch emails and the no-scroll goals. Certainly a clear inbox means less virtual clutter, but responding to an email too quickly could also create problems. Try scheduling email time – changing your settings so that emails appear at certain times or at particular time intervals e.g. every 30 minutes, to help stop being a slave to new email alerts.