Tech Hygiene: 10 Bad Habits To Break - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
11/18/2014
08:36 AM
Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Tech Hygiene: 10 Bad Habits To Break

When it comes to digital devices, a little cleanliness – both inside and out – goes a long way.
Previous
1 of 11
Next

(Image: iPharm)
(Image: iPharm)

Keepin' it clean
Many of us take care of our digital devices -- smartphones, tablets, and PCs -- the way we take care of our bodies, and that's not always a good thing. Like that gym membership, the daily backup utility goes unused. We scarf down burgers and donuts (or your junk food of choice) just as we load up our PCs with performance-crushing bloatware.

And when your physical and digital worlds collide, bad things can happen. If you don't regularly wash your hands, for instance, you'll likely spread harmful bacteria to your devices. You may get sick more often, as may friends, family, and colleagues who have the misfortune of using your germ-laden phone, tablet, keyboard, mouse, or trackpad.

Maybe your digital life needs a hygienic overhaul.

For the purposes of this article, "hygiene" refers to the proper care of your PCs and mobile devices. This maintenance can be as simple as wiping down your smartphone every now and again with an antibacterial wipe. Some tips may require a bit more effort, such as disabling startup programs that slow Windows PC boot times to a crawl.

There's always an "ick" factor associated with the word "hygiene." Why? Who knows? Perhaps the word conjures up unpleasant memories of dental cleanings, filthy public toilets, or educational videos on the onset of puberty.

Most of our hygiene tips are targeted at consumers rather than business users, as the latter group is generally more disciplined when it comes to hygienic tech practices, such as keeping desktop PCs clean of fan-clogging dirt, hair, and dust.

Then again, workers in the enterprise are often guilty of hygienic gaffes such as spilling lattes and muffin crumbs all over their laptops and desktop keyboards. Or they may mistreat their work-issue devices, leaving a business laptop or tablet in a hot car on a blistering summer day, for example.

Small businesses engage in poor tech hygiene, too. You might think that all SMBs diligently back up data -- the lifeblood of their operation -- but that's not always true. Online backup provider Carbonite's "2014 Report on the State of Data Backup for SMBs," a survey of 500 IT professionals from US companies with fewer than 100 employees, provided some surprising revelations.

For instance, just a third (32%) of respondents said they had completed a backup that day. Roughly half of respondents had backed up all of their business files within the past week, and 15% said their most recent backup was "up to a month old" -- a whole month!

Do you need to polish up your tech hygiene skills? Read on to find out.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>
zerox203
100%
0%
zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2014 | 1:54:19 PM
Re: Tech Hygiene 10 Bad Habits To Break
"Bad Habits" is right - it's not so much about things we should do as it is about things we shouldn't do but are guilty of - the list of bad passwords makes that clear enough, and we're all guilty of putting off those virus definition and windows updates just a little bit longer than we should. It's true that some, like washing your hands, are universal, but there's a legitimate case to be made for them being worse in the age of the smartphone. Come to think of it, the same goes for data - It's that much riskier to have bad practices in the age of the cloud, where the bad guys can get high-speed access anywhere, and backups are cheap.

As for organization and keeping your desktop clean, that's a different story, but isn't there room for some personal preference? I don't think there exists a desktop that looks as clean as the one pictured, unless it belongs to someone who rarely boots up their computer. Mine is quite a mess even with most stuff organized into folders, but then again, it mirrors my real desk, so maybe I should take that point at face value. Eating and drinking are definitely no-nos, but it seems like they're bound to happen sooner or later - maybe some innovative company should come up with a product that makes it a little more sensible (like those old drinking hats).
jamieinmontreal
100%
0%
jamieinmontreal,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2014 | 8:27:30 AM
dirty phones and hygiene
Digital - fully agree, keep it clean to keep it working.   Physical, not so sure.   I would hazard a guess that the average support rail in any public transit system contains more bacterian than any of our phones... Still, this kind of post must make the Lysol folks very happy.   
SachinEE
IW Pick
100%
0%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2014 | 6:14:31 AM
Re: Guilty Pleassures
Cleaning the phone can be a risky procedure because the cleaning liquid may seep into the phone (if it's not waterproof) and damage the internal circuitry. Using a digital cabinet can help in cleaning some extra dirt/moisture/micro organisms on the phone.
SachinEE
100%
0%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2014 | 6:11:24 AM
Most people don't follow
I know the slideshow properly defines me, but most people aren't that refined. ALthough I do clean my computer and phone on a regular basis, and I also organize my desktop in the best possible way, but I have multiple passwords though I use the same on facebook and gmail and other sites except net banking sites.
Thomas Claburn
100%
0%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 7:05:12 PM
Re: No. 1 and No. 3
>Most antibacterial wipes have alocohol in them. Isn't that a no-no when cleaning smartphone and laptop screens?

Apple advises against antibacterial wipes or alcohol.

But given that the company's suppliers have been accused to using toxic chemicals like benzene for screen cleaning, I have to wonder.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/18/2014 | 2:55:30 PM
Re: Guilty Pleassures
Don't know what I'd do with a phone in the toilet. Hopefully, I never use it or drop it there.
Susan_Nunziata
100%
0%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
11/18/2014 | 2:38:40 PM
No. 1 and No. 3
I'm guilty as charged when it comes to bad habits no. 1 and no. 3. I scatter my files around my desktop the same way I scatter my shoes around my house. Terrible habit. and I am an unrepentant eater and drinker at my desk.

One question for the hivemind, though: Most antibacterial wipes have alocohol in them. Isn't that a no-no when cleaning smartphone and laptop screens?
Susan_Nunziata
100%
0%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
11/18/2014 | 2:29:50 PM
Re: Guilty Pleassures
@jagibbons: Nitrile gloves. That is hilarious. and smart. My husband once dropped his phone in a public toilet AT A GAS STATION! And despite my horror, he continued to use it after letting it dry out in a bowl of rice. (I made sure the rise was disposed of before he decided to cook it and serve it in our next meal). I woudln't go near the thing with a hazmat suit but as far as I know he never got sick from it.
PedroGonzales
IW Pick
100%
0%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
11/18/2014 | 12:57:51 PM
Re: Guilty Pleassures
Great tips.  I think cleaning and maintaining a computer is one of the things all consumers should remember.  When I went to school, I saw students eating while using the computer.  Some people think their computers are their dinning table.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/18/2014 | 12:06:55 PM
Re: Guilty Pleassures
Many folks I work with don't clean regularly either. I know of a desktop support tech who carries nitrile gloves with him to cubical/office house calls. Probably smart, now that I think about it.
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>
Commentary
Get Your Enterprise Ready for 5G
Mary E. Shacklett, Mary E. Shacklett,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Modern App Dev: An Enterprise Guide
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  1/5/2020
Slideshows
9 Ways to Improve IT and Operational Efficiencies in 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/2/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll