Byte Me Article 386 – It’s not a toy, Ella !

Keep Teens Away from PC

What does PC stand for in the computer industry?  It has always stood for Personal Computer and this forms the very subject of today’s article.  Computers are well named as they are both a machine that we entrust with lots of personal information as well as having a myriad of settings and configurations that we change to suit us. 

A Personal Computer can refer to either a laptop or a desktop and during the last week at the shop we have seen another fair share of both types of PC’s brought in with problems that have stemmed from sharing.  This sharing can be between family members or friends in a home PC situation or it can be between work colleagues in a business.  Typically, in the worst-case scenario it is letting teenagers loose on a business PC.

Big trouble often starts when we give others access to our PC and this can ultimately lead to wasted time, repair bills or even loss of data.  Even more than the complex idea of lending your car, lending your PC to visitors, children or colleagues is an absolute no no.  Perhaps this is not always the case however too many people also want to tinker when given the chance to check a web-based email address or a bank balance or simply to look up a topic on Google.

It can happen in all innocence because someone thinks they can make the PC perform better, or they just want to install a software program that they found helpful.  Sometimes they think they are tiding the PC up by deleting some seemingly unnecessary shortcuts or desktop icons.  But all too often they are deleting something important or changing the PC to a state that the owner is not comfortable with.

A few years back we had a secretary in a business put a Christmas screen saver on EVERY computer that the company owned – subsequently bringing the entire network of a dozen computers to its knees with a virus on every machine!  Every week we get extra work because someone lent their computer, or they let a “friend they know who is great at computer stuff” have a crack at fixing a previously small problem.

If you absolutely need more than one person to use the same computer, then you need to consider setting up the ‘user profiles’ facility that Microsoft offers in its Windows versions.  If setup correctly user profiles allows each user to have an individual log on to the same computer.  This allows a large degree of individual customisation of the desktop and separate data store for each user (called user libraries).  We always use this setup for a shared computer in a business.

On the other hand, when user profiles are not setup correctly they are one of the biggest causes of lost data and frustrations.  If you are considering implementing user profiles on a PC, then get an IT expert to set it up and make sure at the same time that you have a backup system that works on every profile.

If you have visitors or friends over then let them persevere with using their smart phones or make sure that the use of your PC is supervised.  Throwing teenagers in front of a business class or an important home PC just to keep them occupied for a few hours is far from being a clever idea.  PC’s are aptly named and for most of us are neither a toy nor a device that should be lent. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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