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How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: What Are Your Three Rules for Computer Newbies?

This week we’d like to you imagine, if you will, that you must distill down your computer knowledge into three rules to pass on to a new computer user. What do you tell them? How do you save them from making the mistakes you made?

Your friend just bought a new computer and it’s up to you to give them three golden rules to live by to help their computer and data enjoy a long and healthy life. What do you tell them? What is each of your rules and why is it important?

Sound off in the comments with your three-prong approach to happy computing, then check back on Friday for the What You Said roundup.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/25/12

Comments (248)

  1. Sesses

    1. Google before you ask.
    2. Learn how to use Google effectively.
    3. Back up important files.

    Don’t click on everything is a close 4th.

  2. jbisch

    1. Back up important files.
    2. Learn how to use Google effectively.
    3. Google before you ask.

    Don’t click on everything is a distant 4th.

  3. laggo

    1. Learn to read and type correctly (incorrectly spelled web addresses harbour viruses).
    2. Everything can be found on Google.
    3. Anything that looks to good to be true DON’T CLICK!

  4. Derp

    1. Learn to use Google
    2. A good anti-virus can be your best friend
    3. Backup important files

    A good 4th would be “if you put it on the web expect everyone from your kindergarten teacher to your boss to be able to see it….act accordingly”

  5. floydfan

    1. Read before you click okay
    2. Take your time
    3. Learn why to do things, not just what to do

  6. zombies

    1. Always install updates when prompted
    2. Google is your best friend. You’d be surprised what you can find just by searching.
    3. Back up

  7. Ben

    1. DONT USE INTERNET EXPLORER
    2. If the virus scanner isn’t the one you installed, it’s actually a virus itself
    3. You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter, and you don’t have any rich Nigerian relatives

    ~4. Don’t put on Facebook what you aren’t willing to show everyone who has a Facebook

  8. fengshaun

    1) backup
    2) tinker
    3) manpage

  9. Raphael

    1. Have a trusted friend help you through basics at first, to include purchase.

    2. Learn how your system works and back it up.

    3. Set up two accounts if on a windows operating system, an admin and a throwaway Guess.

  10. keltari

    If you dont know, ask someone.

  11. dima

    1. Having an antivirus program won’t make your computer immune to viruses/malware.
    2. Don’t click on ANY ads.
    3. Backup or at least store personal files on another drive/partition.

  12. tbkblues

    1. Read the screen and interpret the information.
    2. Google the message if you don’t understand it–someone’s certainly come across it already.
    3. Backup anything you can’t get back (i.e., your own data).

    A close fourth is “don’t put anything anywhere in text that you wouldn’t have a problem telling your mother, a newspaper reporter or a judge”.

  13. Aaron

    1. Most computer issues are caused by user error (be wise when using your computer)
    2. Backup important files to multiple locations (Dropbox with SecretSync works well!)
    3. Learn to use Google before you ask for help.

  14. Kyle

    1. Have you tried turning it off and on again?!
    2. Google’s your best friend
    3. Never try and fix the problem yourself without backing up first (:

    But 1 is obviously the most important.. no?

  15. Mike Hathaway

    1. The initial account the computer has you set up is the root admin account name it as such and create a standard user account for yourself to use day in and day out.
    2. Install crashplan and start backing up to an external drive and the cloud.
    3. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to see on a sign hung above your desk / office.

  16. Robert

    1. backup data off site or to another drive or partition.
    2. install anti – virus/malware/spyware software
    3. install Firefox or Chrome as your browser.

  17. Karlos Amigos

    1. Protect your Data (from Identity theft, Virus, Malware…)
    2. Backup your Data (I’ve read somewhere that there is 2 types of computer users. Those who have lost Data and those who will…)
    3. Know your Data (If you don’t know what your doing, ask Google or a trusty human)

  18. Mordom

    1.) Left Mouse Button
    2.) Right Mouse Button
    3.) Wheel

  19. xana452

    1. Don’t use your preinstalled Virus solution. It is crap by default.
    2. If you ever come across anything saying ANYTHING about the system32 folders, DON’T. TOUCH. ANYTHING.
    3. Something that looks cool isn’t going to work as good as it looks. No exceptions.

  20. infmom

    1. Before you begin: Don’t be afraid you’re going to break something. Little kids can learn computers in no time precisely because they’re not afraid to try. There’s no reason adults can’t do the same.

    2. Internet safety: If it pops up, don’t click on it. If something sounds too good to be true, it is. Before you believe anything you read, look it up. Search engines are your friends, stuff you just happen to read on the internet should be treated as lies until you have verified it with more than one reputable source.

    3. Don’t try to muddle through on your own: If you don’t understand something computer related, you could call someone who knows more to help you figure it out. But in the long run, the very best thing you can do is get your own education, and you can do that for free. Go to the public library and look at books. Ask the librarians for recommendations. Keep looking till you find a book that explains things in the way you understand best, buy that book and READ it. Then you have it for reference forever after.

  21. Sully

    1. Back up anything that can’t be re-downloaded.
    2. Keep tinkering with your computer until something breaks.
    3. Learn how to fix it, or format, reinstall, re-download and recover using your backups.

  22. Grant

    1. Back up (3 copies, 2 kinds of media, at least 1 offsite)
    2. Don’t click on attachments you were not specifically expecting or install applications from shady sites(No, you do not need to install their codec to play that video. If VLC won’t play it, you don’t need to see it.)
    3. If on Mac or Windows, get a reliable antivirus. Not the one that came with the system, and will expire or overcharge you.

    If all else fails, the nerdy kid down the street is best bribed with baked goods.

  23. Johnny

    1.) Figure
    2.) It
    3.) Out

  24. Terri

    1. Use an anti -virus
    2, If you don’t what it means or who its from don’t launch or read it
    3. Back it up….

  25. stephen

    #1. Google
    #2. Antivirus… dont have to pay a fortune for a good one
    #3. Google… if your first search dont get the results you want, reword your search

  26. Howard

    1) learn to google for help
    2) backup files
    3) go thru and understand the options of any new program you install

  27. Mr. IT

    1). Read books about the basics of computers
    2). Learn to use Google
    3). Don’t be a dick to people who know more than you

  28. Anonymous

    I want to say:

    1.) RTFM!
    2.) RTFM!!
    3.) RTFM!!!

    But that’s a little too obvious. Therefore, here’s probably a better list:

    1.) Don’t be intimidated!

    Don’t be afraid to turn the computer on. Don’t be afraid to click on anything. And don’t be afraid to experiment. We can go into backups and saving data later (that too is important). But for a new user, I just want them to be comfortable using the darn thing. Therefore, this is #1.

    2.) Never, never, never give out personal information no matter how insignificant it may seem in any way shape or form. That is, unless you already know who you are dealing with. And even then you may want to reconsider. This especially true with social security numbers and any bank info like credit cards – don’t ever do it even in real life if you don’t have to.

    If this is a new user who likes to shop Ebay then additional assistance with setting up accounts on PayPal and how to use it may be necessary. And sure, there are exceptions. And sure, everyone says who they are especially on Facebook and Twitter. And if that’s want a new user wants to focus on then additional advice may be in order. But for a new user I say in general to just not tell anyone who they are at least until they start to get their feet wet. (I’m a “ounce of prevention” type person if it isn’t obvious.)

    3.) Never trust your email! Don’t open attachments if you don’t know >>>exactly<<< where it's from. You may even want to call that person just to be sure.

    For me, this advice is sort of a toss up between general computer hygiene like updates and advising a new user to just not get into bad habits in the first place – like opening email attachments. And since the vast majority of preventable viruses come from email (or so has been my experience) I say this would be #3. Seems a little contradictory from #1, but email is about the only thing I say a person really needs to pay attention to when using.

    (3b or #4 would be to keep your computer updated with OS and AV/AM updates – regularly! But that's almost automatic and HTG only asked for my top 3.)

    For more advanced users This list might change. For example, I might be stressing the importance of backing up files and keeping the operating system up to date. I might even get into the need for surge suppression or even how to thwart viruses/malware by running a sandboxed virtual OS. But for a beginner, this stuff is either a little too esoteric or way out of bounds. They just need to know they can do something productive with a computer and hopefully gain a little confidence. That's MY objective.

  29. UnderLoK

    1) If you start getting errors, reboot.
    2) If you aren’t sure how to do something search on Google.
    3) Get a CloudBox (or similar) to backup all of your data.

  30. Tom

    1. back up your files
    2. get a good anti virus and keep updates up to date
    3. Just because it say DOWNLOAD NOW doesn’t mean you have to download it!!

  31. coolkid3245

    (Because my friends is also a gamer, this is my 3 rules)
    1. ALWAYS install an anti-virus.
    2. DONT download cheat
    3. NEVER click on pop-ups or something like that. (or just install ABP)

  32. drywall

    1. Return your PC and buy an iPad
    2 .Avoid porn!
    3. Google is new best friend.

  33. Beth

    1) Oh my goodness, where have you been the last few decades?
    2) Do you really think it was a good idea to leave there?
    3) I seriously think you should go back before you hurt yourself.

  34. TheFu

    1) Ask someone else.
    2) Seriously, I don’t know anything about Windows and will not “touch” a Windows PC.
    3) If you switch to Linux, I’ll provide support to family for free.

  35. Lori

    1. Keep your anti-virus/anti-spamware software license up to date.
    2. Keep your computer backed up
    3. Install the Microsoft (or other operating system) Updates when they come up.

  36. EKMA

    1. when installing software, don’t just click YES to everything…read it first
    2. back up your important stuff
    3. search the internet if you’re not sure about something….actually search EVERYTHING

  37. OD

    1. install gentoo
    2. pray to Richard Stallman
    3. lurk /g/

  38. Keith

    To “xana452″

    Bumptop came to mind. : )

  39. Keith

    1. If Gmail says it’s spam, it probably is. Treat it that way. Don’t open it. Leave it. Gmail will flush it in 30 days.

    2. If in the slightest doubt, don’t click.

    3. If in the slightest doubt, don’t tweak.

  40. Gregg

    1. Use Linux – it does everything, it’s safer, most versions get automatic security updates
    2. Backup all your personal files to external storage
    3. Use a different, long password for every different service

  41. Scot

    1.) If you think it is a virus it probably is

    2.) Use anything else other than Internet Explorer

    3.) Shut up and reboot

  42. Pat

    1. Backup
    2. No internet explorer
    3. NORTON ANTIVIRUS IS &#$@!!!

  43. Dave

    1. Shut the computer off with the Windows power button not the case button.
    2. Disregard anything on a browser screen that says “FREE”
    3. If you get a screen that screams “YOU ARE INFECTED” call me first.

  44. Henry

    1 Google
    2 backup discs and backup
    3 internet = public

    4 vnc/remote desktop (or at least screen captures; STOP TRYING TO DESCRIBE IT TO ME AND STOP STARTING URLS WITH H T T P COLON SLASH SLASH…)

  45. coolkid3245

    Ups, i forgot number 4.
    Let me use your computer every 1 week for imaging your whole computer. (and pay $1 for the DVD.)

  46. Tech Support

    1. JUST TURN IT OFF AND ON AGAIN
    2. GOOGLE YOUR PROBLEM
    3. COMMON SENSE (USE IT)

  47. Theredguy

    1-Install a Linux distro that suits your needs if possible.
    2-use complex and different passwords.
    3-Remember, your ISP can see everything you do ;)

  48. Moderated

    1: Don’t uninstall all the shit I put on it
    2: Google is your friend
    3: Basic computer shortcuts(Copy, paste, undo, redo, stuff like that.)

  49. Anon

    Nothing at all, it just leads to dominoes with questions n how-to’s, then you screwed yourself for a month, or should I say you screwed your self for months.

    I’ve learned my lesson, I keep my mouth shut and say ionno.

  50. thegeekkid

    1. No antivirus takes the place of good computing habits
    2. A backup is worth a thousand geeks
    3. Know how to restore from your backup

  51. James

    1. It’s OK to pick the mouse up and move it back on to the mouse pad
    2. Always err on the side of caution
    3. Save your document early and often

  52. TechGeek01

    I have not made many mistakes, as I was and still am very careful with what I do. Top three rules to avoid others doing what mny other friends have done:

    1) If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it, and don’t do anythinhg stupid. (Do not delete the Windows folder, boot folder, etc.)
    2) If you see notice something suspicious, take immediate action. If you notice any changes that you don’t remember making, run a virus scan.
    3) Be careful of everything that you do. Don’t download anything if you don’t know what it does. If it’s not from a major name, run a virus scan on it berfore running it.

    I also advise everyone that I’ve ever helped with computer trouble to back up; mportant files regularly.

    I myself always treat every computer that I don’t use rergularly myself (i.e. friend’s computers) as if they’re infected. Ultimately, I use a USB drive and Dropbox interchangeably to load portable apps. Until I can prove that there is no infected programs, I do not use any of vthe progams installed.

    I also advise people to run a virus scan regularly.

    If they still manage to screw it up, then they need to listen better.

  53. DaveyNC

    1. When it doesn’t work, restart.
    2. Fer Chrissake, UPDATE!
    3. Pause and think. What you want is usually right there on the screen in front of your face.

  54. Joel

    1. Encrypt your personal data, if you don’t use full disk encryption, then back that data up to separate drive, preferably at a remote location.

    2. Make sure you have an operating system reinstall disk/set, and if you don’t have this, create one. It is a headache to try to get a (legitimate) replacement copy of Windows.

    3. Require a password for login, even on the standard account. Have someone help you to place restrictions on this account so that nothing can use the cached credentials of the logged in user to take malicious actions inside your machine, and use an even stronger password on the built-in Administrator account. You can always right-click and use the ‘run as’ in the context menu if you need to install something. Might be annoying but just think how frustrating it’d be to someone trying to hijack your system.

  55. r

    1. no, you can’t have administrator rights,…because you’re not an administrator.
    2. If you need more paper in the plotter then let me load it, because last time you jammed the printer heads & it cost us $253.78 to fix it.
    3. If you need me I’ll be downstairs at the coffee shop

  56. AKBOZO

    sully is right. first create a restore point. then, tinker , have fun. if it breaks, restore: start over. break it again. restore. don’t trust google. use it, don’t create accounts. find a good free browser like yippy or duck duck go. if you use you tube, do not create an account; just use it. leave as little information on the web as you possibly can.

    in summary:
    1: back up
    2:use secure browsers that don’t mine personal data
    3;leave the smallest personal footprint on the internet that you can ( you don’t have to subscribe to use
    some really good services).

  57. Romberry

    1. Read the help file. (“What do you mean that there’s a help file?”)

    2. Back up anything you don’t want to lose.

    3. Just because something pops up and says “click here” or “download this” does not mean you have to actually click or download it.

    And 3a (as a corollary to 3): Keep your antivirus/Java/Flash/Adobe Reader up to date.

  58. bbno

    1. BACKUP
    2. DON’T CLICK ON THAT EMAIL ATTACHMENT!!!
    3. DON’T ASK ME FOR HELP.

  59. garry

    1. dont touch any option, you don’t know what it does
    2. RTFM
    3. use your brain a.k.a. common sense

  60. Josh B.

    1. Before you come to me with your question, Google it.
    2. Have you googled it?
    3. If you don’t like googling, try lmgtfy.com.

    4. Ok, I’ll google it for you.

  61. Basel

    Reboot before you call for help!!!!!

  62. AlanWade

    1. Learn how to create partitions and keep your docs, pics, music and important stuff etc on them.
    2. Learn what is OK to install and what isnt – not all programs are nice!
    3. Install a decent antivirus and a couple of anti-malware programs and learn how to use them. Stick with the well known brands, there are many good free ones.

  63. Tiki

    This is kind of lame, if we could boil computer knowledge down to 3 things there wouldn’t be IT departments etc… but whatever, I’m game.

    1. Backup all important stuff, hard drives fail and malware destroys.
    2. Ask search engine if you’re unsure (unlike most responders I DON’T USE GOOGLE)
    3. Try to learn how to run as a Limited or Standard User. It will help mitigate nearly ~90% of all malware and you’ll learn alot in the process… SRP/Applocker should be implemented afterwards if you have a proper edition…. 99.999% impervious to malware.

    Number 3 is the best tip IMO. Patched systems with antivirus is not good enough. REDUCE YOUR RIGHTS!

  64. sahil khanna

    1. install linux – ubuntu or linux mint and learn how to use it (takes less than a day).
    2. forget about viruses and other stupid things.
    3. freely use the computer with efficient speed and least or no bugs.

  65. Tiki

    @sahil khanna

    1. Linux isn’t what I’d suggest a newb use.
    2. No system is 100% safe. If you use Ubuntu enable apparmor profiles.
    3. Linux has bugs, lots of them and regression is still a huge issue.

    I’m a huge fan of Linux but it’s made by geeks for geeks, Ubuntu is as easy as it gets but it’s a labor of love.

  66. MikeS

    1. READ THE SCREEN
    2. SAVE your work
    3. Ask Questions.

    I’m an It Trainer and provide desktop support to boot (pun?). People forget the screen is where the computer communicates with the user, they ASSUME or FORGET the need to save thier work, they feel stupid asking questions.

  67. oktboer

    1. Back
    2. The f*ck
    3. Up

  68. Jon

    1. When in doubt, don’t do it.
    2. When in doubt, don’t open it.
    3. When in doubt, refer to #s 1 and 2.

  69. Harry

    1 Don’t touch that!
    2 Don’t touch that either.
    3 Look, just sit on your hands.

  70. jeff whistler

    1. look things up yourself.
    2. learn something new every day.
    3. join computer groups and ask for advice.

    I have taught myself how to use computers by no means an expert but I had a burning interest in them and how they worked, and I am new to them as well, sometimes I will spend days or years on one problem (not all the time, but the solution to a problem is always in my mind) I have made so many false assumptions that it seems funny to me now, hope this helps some one.

  71. Jeff

    1) Is it plugged in?
    2) What was the error message?
    3) What is your backup situation?

  72. Mark

    1. If it says free, it’s not. There is always a catch.

    2. If you don’t know who the person is who sent the email, delete it without opening.

    3. Trust nothing Google, Symantec (Norton), or Adobe.

  73. Jim

    1. Google
    2. Google
    3. or try Google

  74. thierry

    install free antivirus like avg
    backup important file on line
    only use webmal preferably gmail instead of using outlook

  75. InT0Xed

    1. If you’re the 100,000th visitor to ANYTHING you still don’t win

    2. Get Chrome & CCleaner

    3. always ask your question to google before me.

  76. peterf

    keep software upto date

    install noscript

    don’t open attachments or click on links in email even if you know the sender

    learn to use Google

  77. Master Mind

    1. Read every bytes of information. ( I know a lot of people who asks before reading, after you read it and show them “here it is!!! Did you actually read it? *angry* they go ” Oh I was so afraid

    2. Go to forums and ask help. ( Don’t be Google hype, it’s better when you different opinions and you can choose one of them.

    3. Never be afraid. If it’s not physical damage you can always fix your computer. ( mostly there HDD errors. Reinstall windows and back to fresh state

  78. Citrus Rain

    1) Let me install linux on your computer
    2) Use adblock plus – it’s amazing.
    3) This update manager will appear daily. Let it start the updates while you do whatever you want.

    Their computer is now perfectly secure. I would be shocked if they broke it.

  79. Jeremy

    1. Get antivirus that’s not a trial! Preferably Avast! Free.
    2. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s malware.
    3. Obey update notifications!

    I could go on all day on this subject, but those would have to be my top 3.

  80. Fraser

    1) dont just click without reading
    2) dont do something unless you are absolutely sure what it will do to your computer
    3) dont delete system 32

  81. MerriAnnie

    New computer users, not just new to the internet:
    1. Blow the dust out of your computer pretty often.
    2. Don’t click on links in email even if you DO know the sender well.
    3. Never post comments online in your real name.

  82. jasnels

    if you want to fix your own computer then fine

    but when you mess it up worse, you are going to come to me to fix it for free only after paying a “professional” to tell you that it’s going to cost you hundreds of dollars. a little appreciation is all I ask… i would have been happy with half the money you paid to have it “diagnosed” even though I still gladly fixed it for free.

    sorry just so frustrating

  83. nasdriver

    If you have a problem, follow this:

    1- Clear temp files and cache, if issue persists
    2- Reboot PC, if stills
    3- Call manufacturer support

    ;)

  84. Iagoman

    1.Use a mirror Backup
    2. Use AVG free
    3. Use the BCC for multiple emails ALWAYS!

  85. Rizzocow

    1.) Google is YOUR FRIEND!
    2.) Right Click where you would normally Left click
    3.) RTFM!

  86. Gee

    1. If it seems ‘broken’, reboot first before calling. Then google the problem if it persists.
    2. If you dont know what ‘reboot’ is, google it.
    3. Use the Start-Shutdown to turn off your computer, do not use the power strip or power button!!

  87. rab

    1. security software. anti virus and anti malware
    2. Learn how to search. All answers are on the web somewhere.
    3.Backup important files. Your hard drive will crash at some point in time.

  88. Chris

    1. Search Google first when you have a question
    2. When you get some email saying this is true or that is true, check it out on snopes.com (The Urban Legends Reference Pages) first before you decide to forward it on as the Gospel truth.
    3. Back up, your entire system to an external hard drive that you can disconnect from your system and only connect it when you need to backup again and for gods sake, please run your virus scanner before you back up.

  89. Mário

    1. Dont click everything.
    2. Google
    3. Backup

  90. alansia

    1. Know your computer. Before buying, ask what is RAM, video card, cpu, hard drive,etc. Know the limit of a 300$ laptop.

    2. Keep control of YOUR computer. Don’t let your friend, relative or someone you don’t event know install software, devices or fix them. Do it yourself, under their tutelage .

    3. Use a password manager. Even if it’s just a “carefully handled” sheet of paper. A unknown password is a useless one. Say, what is your WiFi wep again?

    Oh, and don’t use the same password for everything. Web game and financial institution aren’t on the same protection level.

  91. Hisa

    First of all, I must state that I don’t help people unless they agree to working in a virtual machine (I use VMware). I prefer Linux, but I know a lot of Window’s lovers. Essentially, for my window’s lovers, if they don’t have an old and a new copy, I set up a Linux distro (favorite is Ubuntu) and then set up their Windows in VMware. If they have an old and a new, I install the old, update, and then put their new Windows distro in VMware. Basically, no internet access until they access their virtual PC. Period. Most other programs that don’t require internet access I will install outside the virtual machine.

    Then, I set up their permissions, give myself the admin account, update, install the programs I prefer (Comodo, Malwarebytes, CCleaner for Windows users – all user-friendly for newbies and work pretty well), and polish off their education with a quick tour on how not to screw it up.

    I like to give the following advice to all people…

    Nothing is impossible to fix. Everything is impossible to recover (I like to put a little scare in my newbies to get them to do regular back-ups of important info). Back-up, back-up, back-up.

    Use your antivirus every time you get off the internet.

    Go buy your porn like a good deviant. Stay off the porn sites, free or paid!

    If you don’t know what it is, DON’T CLICK IT! If you do click it, immediately start your antivirus. (they always click it…)

    Social sites are evil. But since we all still go to social sites, I force them to use CCleaner and remove passwords as well as running the antivirus.

    Nothing is worse than IE. Pick anything else! (I automatically install both Chrome and Firefox for newbies, let them try both, and then make their favorite the default browser.)

    Use the add-ons for your browsers. I like to add in some security add-ons such as WOT, AdblockPlus, and VTzilla or Bitdefender Quickscan.

    I always try to scare people away from toolbars. Not very successful so far, but I try. I uninstall LOTS of toolbars…

    And finally, CALL ME. Oh gawd it is horrible to be called all the time, but it is worse to have to blow away a whole system. Thankfully I use VMware which makes it far more bearable and easy, but honestly, if you don’t know, ASK. Better to ask a foolish question than to look like a fool later when your PC is riddled with garbage and only savable by nuclear war.

  92. Keith

    1. Think before you act

    2. If you are not sure ask before you type

    3. Review your work as if you were the recipient

    3.1 Automatically back-up your documents

  93. Frank Kaplan

    There’s an old adage/joke from the earlier days of computing that the three rules of computer were back up your work, back up your work and back up your work. A bit over stated but still true.

  94. Mitchell

    learn to click (and double-click) the mouse properly .. it’s brutal how kyphotic the un-initiated can be.
    first order of business is gaining proficiency in some mouse-driven game You can’t drive a car if you don’t understand the concept of fluid cornering.

  95. Steve Newman

    1. Just because your child is better on a computer than you doesn’t make them an expert
    2. Microsoft or your Telco will never phone you to tell you that you have a virus
    3. Don’t use the same password everywhere
    4. Backup, backup, backup and backup again!

  96. Erik Garrison

    1. Do not touch the right button on your mouse.
    2. Understand and Respect the concept of a user name and password.
    3. Purchase a USB flash drive.

  97. Ramez

    Rule #1- Don’t be afraid to try things. You will never learn if you do not experiment (after backing up) or if you keep asking other peoples to help you
    Rule #2- Don’t argue with a computer: if it doesn’t make sense, shut down and re-start
    Rule#3- Don’t click on anything too interesting. Check carefully if clicking on something will not bring you something else (Like large DOWNLOAD HERE button in the ads windows, will not download the small shareware you wanted to get)

  98. BUZZ

    1. WHEN NEW—SYSTEM RESTORE CAN BE YOUR BEST FRIEND…

    2. INSTALL AND USE A QUALITY ANTI-VIRUS, AND A MALWARE PROGRAM…

    3. IF IT’S SOMETHING NOT 100% UNDERSTOOD DO NOTHING UNTIL YOU GOOGLE IT AND UNDERSTAND IT…

  99. cam2644

    1. Learn Google but don’t put all your eggs in one basket to protect your privacy.
    2. Don’t click on ANY ads.
    3. Backup or at least store personal files on another drive/partition.(2+3 agreeing with Dima’s post)

  100. Steve Newman

    I’m not sure who said it but it is very true of social media sites: “If you’re not paying for it; you’re the product”

    With free services on the internet you get the level of service you pay for.

  101. Midwest guy

    1. Buy an external hard drive with lots of memory (at least 1 TB, preferably more).

    2. Learn how to create a system image and backup (these are two separate operations) as soon as possible and perform a system image at least once per month and file backup at least once per week. Put the images and backups on your external drive. There is related information on How-To Geek and other reliable websites; just google “how to system image” and “how to perform file backups”.

    3. Now tinker with your system, knowing that you can restore it if you end up breaking it or if it gets infected.

  102. PTR

    1) RTFM
    2) Google and FAQ are your friends. Try them first.
    3) Practice safe browsing – install an AV, Anti-Malware and Firewall

  103. ProGeek

    1) Don’t use an account with local admin privileges for everyday computing. Adds an extra layer of protection from infections. Use a local admin account only for software installations and updating!

    2) Backup Backup Backup (old geek mantra)

    3) No experience is unique in computerland. If you have a problem or question, chances are someone else has had the same problem or question so with a little smart searching you will find something that will give you a clue. If you can’t find it, revise your search terms.

  104. Darryl

    1. ALWAYS Update your Windows patches and updates
    2. Purchase Carbonite ($60/yr unlimited data storage)…and backup everything in profile (My Documents, Desktop, Favorites)
    3. If you get a popup that says you’re infected with many viruses…it is a virus…don’t click it to clean…get a pro…or learn to use the cleaners.

  105. Paul

    1 – Install Linux —- I am here to help with that. :-)
    2 – Treat your online connection like your telephone — do not give information to unsolicited callers.
    3 – Have fun. (remember, it’s just another toy in a world of oh-so-many gadgets — don’t take it, or yourself, so seriously)

    Mistakes? Why not… you’re alive, aren’t you? Then go ahead, make mistakes. See #3 above.

  106. Peter Colledge

    Learn how to navigate Internet Explorer
    Check security settings (Anti-Virus, Firewall etc)
    Learn how to download files safely.

  107. Nerdview

    PWN

    1. Patience- Read the prompts.
    2. Winning- You didn’t win anything don’t click on that.
    3. Never- underestimate Google.

    @thenerdview

  108. Barnabas

    1. Do not attempt to open application files !
    2. Regular backup to a separate drive and then rummage thro’ your system to learn – break and be sure YOU reinstated it back – or learn it the hard way by spend time & money !!
    3. Stop the urge to download & install something you don’t really need -with a definitive “NO”

  109. Hollis

    #1 READ THE ENTIRE SCREEN before clicking on anything!
    #2 Make a SYSTEM RESTORE DISK
    #3 When absolutely necessary HIT the POWER BUTTON before the unwanted program installs

  110. Paul

    1. If it doesn’t work, its probably something YOU did or didn’t do …. try again and this time pay attention.
    2. Read the content of the window BEFORE you click OK.
    3. Learn to configure things so they behave the way YOU want them to behave.

  111. jiy

    1. Don’t google google
    2. Click on this to go to your email
    3. This is internet explorer, DON’T USE IT

  112. badger_fruit

    1. Backup your important data
    2. Backup your important data
    3. Backup your important data

    Not that they ever do, sigh.

  113. Ted

    the “on” button is NOT the “off” button. Consider the “shut down” tab as a way to return all of your tools you took out of your tool box and putting them back to the tool drawer they came out of.

  114. MADbookworm

    1. Know what you want your computer to do and the software you need to run, then buy the one that fits your needs without all the stuff your salesman thinks you should buy.

    2. BACK UP EVERYTHING! Nothing is sadder than losing all the pictures of your father who died 2 years ago. And if you back up the system when it’s new, you can always restore it if needed.

    3. Always remember, nothing is free. If the software on the internet says it’s free, be very suspicious. They have to be making money somehow.

  115. Nick Giardina

    1. When in doubt, reboot.
    2. Google first, call me after you have done so.
    3. NEVER click anything that says “Your computer is infected, click here to repair” without calling me first.

  116. Nick Giardina

    Oh, yeah, wait…

    Rule #0 – (even though YOU NEVER look at it!) PAY FOR YOUR PORN, OR BE WILLING TO PAY FOR REPAIRS!

  117. Phylis Sophical

    Rule # 1: Save
    Rule # 2: Save
    Rule # 3: Save

  118. Deniz Sevki Kayabay

    1. Never fill your computer with crap you won’t use ever again.
    2. Always backup your important files ( preferably at least 2 different backup’s )
    3. Stay calm, don’t hurry if something goes wrong ! First best solution is a shutdown-restart.

  119. Gian-Luigi Valle

    1. Use adblocking software when online
    2. Use good antivirus software
    3. Get somebody to set up your computer for you

  120. WOODWALKER

    Get good Virus Protection
    backup files
    learn Google

  121. Jeff Burns

    I work with newbies all the time. Some of them have been newbies for years! I have the following conversation with them and I make a big fuss about it. Eventually they will remember what I said. It goes like this:
    “You remember the Golden Rule for RIGHT-click, don’t you?” They answer, “No.” Now that I have their attention, I tell them, “The Golden Rule for RIGHT-click is (drum roll) ‘You can’t screw up with a RIGHT-click.’”
    As far as advising a newbie to pick a good antivirus program or to make sure you do your backups, that’s mostly way beyond their ability to absorb. I would swear that half the problems they call for help on would have been resolved if the EVER used a right-click.

    A boss I had in the beginning of my career asked me what I did? I told him “I fix computers.” He corrected me. “No, you don’t. You fix customers. If you happen to fix the computer while you’re at it, that’s a plus.” Best advice I ever had.

  122. Inderpreet Singh

    Google
    Google
    Google

  123. Viggenboy

    1. Install a reputable AV programme and keep it up to date.
    2. THINK before you click: Use your common sense.
    3. Don’t be too paranoid to explore/have a go/try things out.

  124. k4rizma

    1. Backing up important files
    2. Google has all the answers
    3. Don’t give out personal information on the internet

    #3 can change once a person has gained experience

  125. RHG

    1. Immediatly install anti-virus/malware and set up their automated services.
    2. If you get any error message or have an issue, check all possible cable connections and reboot before doing anything else.
    3. Back up everything that means anything to you!

  126. PEFlynn

    1. Trust no one. Don’t click on any file you didn’t request, even if it appears to come from a friend.
    2. Don’t get suckered into any games. They just consume your time and brain cells.
    3. Explore a lot of things on the web. But remember there is no such thing as a free lunch. There will be a hook that shows up.

  127. Adrian

    Don’t be afraid, have fun and learn, but be sensible.
    If you change settings, ensure you know how to change them back.
    Don’t switch the damn thing on in the first place, just to be completely sure.

  128. Sue

    1 – Trust yourself – there’s almost no way what you’re doing will “break” your computer.
    2 – When a friend helps you resolve a problem, listen to the explanation of what happened instead of just asking that it be fixed. If you understand how this problem came about, you’ll know how to solve it or avoid it next time.
    3 – Learn to type.

  129. StevenTorrey

    A) Install a PAID for antivirus program, anti-malware program, anti-spyware program; that $40 a year is money well spent. It will protect you from viruses.
    B) Turn off your computer as soon as something pops up on your screen that says you’re computer may be infected… (Not the ‘shut down’ button, but the power disconnect button.)
    C) Learn how to get rid of a virus from your computer. (Open in save mode–press F8. Go to my computer. Look for files that originated at about the time the virus showed up. Delete those files. Do a search for the name of the virus on your computer. Delete those files. Delete recycle bin. Optional–go to an earlier ‘restore point’ …)

    In theory, a ‘newbie’ no longer exists. Kids as young as 5 now know about the computer, and what to do or what not to do–use a paid for anitvirus program / stay away from porn / get rid of viruses in less than 10 minutes/don’t open emails from strangers etc… I didn’t own a computer till I was 60, and not till 2009 was I connected to the internet. But a 5 year old growing up with family computer, will have more knowledge at an earlier age.

  130. Trout 2012 Congress

    1. If you don’t know how to type, learn. There are several free typing tutor courses online, and you have no future in a hunt and peck strategy.
    2. Learn to HIGHLIGHT, COPY, and PASTE. Those are the three steps for quoting or copying text or images from one field to another (from an email to a webpage or vice versa, for example).
    3. Learn to take screenshots on your computer. When you need help from a remote friend, a picture of what exactly you think you are looking at on your screen will be worth 1000 words.

    4. If you are a newbie, uninstall WINDOWS and install Linux NOW. People will say Linux is complicated (it used to be), but if you learn Linux first (choose your flavor: http://distrowatch.com ) you will never know the difference.
    5. Now that you have Linux, Install a good IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client, and use the community help channels to learn more about your system. Many are on the Freenode network, which you can also access through your browser at http://webchat.freenode.net — to log in to the ubuntu community channel, pick an anonymous username, and write #ubuntu into the box that asks for channel(s)(you can be signed into more than one channel at a time). DON”T give out personal information on the channel, and DO get to know the channel moderators (mods) and administrators (admins). Check in and watch the conversations to learn basic ettiquette and procedure in the channel.
    6. I could easily make a top ten list, but they only asked for three, and i’m already over that.

  131. Atlcr

    1. Back up everything that is important ( ie pics, vids, tax docs, etc.)
    2. Learn about viruses and protect your neck!
    3. Form an endearing relationship with a computer geek so you can get problems resolved quickly :)

  132. Elaine James

    these are the three must important Does on a PC/ Computer / Tab it’s all the same…
    1 / from the outset use one strong password that consists of AT LEAST 10 DIGITS that have a mixture of numbers ….. letters of both small case and large case …… – … _ …… , …… . …..but numbers and upper case lower case letters make a STRONG ENOUGH PASSWORD remember not your name birthday your town ……. If you “”"”"” MAKE UP A PASSWORD of at least 10 TEN DIGEST you only need one ………. yes just one ………. BUT DO NOT TELL IT TO ANY ONE ….
    if you do IT IS NO LONGER YOUR PASSWORD remember your password …… once you forget IT you are on the slippery slop of lots and lots of passwords ……. you have been advised
    2 / use FIREFOX not internet explorer
    3 / for your email use googlemail it is shortened these days to gmail its unrestricted or at lest very good in size ….. do not use @live.com or hotmail you wont have “”"”" MSN “”"”"”" I know you can live well without …… enjoy

  133. Adam

    1. google everything(including Gmail)
    2. read blogs(like HTG)
    3. MSE and windows backup are our friends

  134. Atlcr

    @StevenTorrey
    You don’t need to pay for an antivirus program. Avast Free is more than sufficient for protecting you from viruses and other threats. Disconnecting the power source is not a good suggestion in cases where you have an infection. I do a lot of anti-virus work as a computer tech and I will always watch what the infection is doing. Watching what a virus does can sometimes be very beneficial for removing it. Cutting the power supply can actually make things worse (mainly corrupted system files).

  135. john3347

    The most important single rule is to caution someone to keep away from Google. Your personal information is personal and you need to keep it personal. If Google has contact with your computer, ALL your personal information becomes available to whoever wishes to purchase it. Google is NOT your friend!

  136. Ezrab

    Rule 1) When a window pops up, ALWAYS read it before clicking OK or ENTER. If in doubt, decline.

    Rule 2) Back-up important data files onto a Disk-on-key once a month – or more frequently.

    Rule 3) Have a friend who knows more than you!

  137. Nick

    1.Backup Data.
    2.Google first, but double check everything.
    3. If you are not sure what is or what it does, LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!

  138. RichardS

    1. Keep it simple. Don’t load lots of unnecessary software and don’t assume the world is only
    according to Microsoft and Apple. There’s some great free stuff out there.
    2. Be wary. Don’t even assume that an email from your best mate is safe; back up anything
    important. Use the cloud.
    3. Have fun. Computers are useful tools and can be a means to all sorts of outcomes. Enjoy it
    remember you are the boss not the computer.

  139. Ed

    1). Is it plugged in?
    2). Is it turned on?
    3). Have you Rebooted?

  140. Drumfox7

    1. Google anything you don’t it has about 90% of your answers

    2.Back up your important files to a external hard drive (anyway but your local C: drive)

    3.Install an Anti-Virus so you can have some kind of protection if anything goes wrong.

    Enjoy your computer!!

  141. Lagoonboy

    1) Auto-save everything on your machine to the Cloud – £1.86/month if buy 24 months in advance at mypcbackup.com. Get that subscription before you save anything on your machine.
    2) Investigate if your bank will supply Kaspersky Anti-Virus (or similar) for free – Barclays in the UK does, as they’re big in Internet Banking.
    3) Install Spybot Search and Destroy (free – but they’re well worth a donation) on the day you get the machine, and setup weekly auto-repeating reminders in your online calendar to e-mail you regularly to remind you to grab the latest updates and run it weekly. No chance then for robots to take over your machine, without you knowing.

  142. Dave

    1. Do NOT click on anything you don’t know what it is or is too good to be true. Like the saying goes it ALWAYS is.
    2. If you don’t know what it is, DONT CLICK IT!!!
    3. Backup anything important, so when you do click something you shouldn’t have, you don’t loose your data.

  143. Michael Stout

    1. There is a recognised 200 hour learning curve with a computer. Don’t give up. Everybody went through it…

    2. Ensure that your valuable data is stored in at least two places. Your PC only counts as ONE of those places…

    3. Computers will ALWAYS slow down. If you can’t do it yourself; get your PC serviced at least once every six months

  144. Nikk

    1. Always buy a computer the nearest place to way you live!
    2. Always Backup your important data,
    3. Invest in more Memory(GB) than larger hard disk. Very important to remember:
    All 32 bit systems can’t use more then 4 GB of ram memory, only 64 bit systems managed to use more of 4 GB (off cores it depends on your hardware and memory slots),

  145. Jim Conace

    Rule #1:
    Always have an updated Antivirus running at all times!

    Rule #2:
    Restart the PC at least once a week

    Rule #3:
    Dont be afraid to experiment

    Thats it!!

  146. jkg

    1. Read, read, read – Your pc user guide, your OS information, all peripheral information, techy web sites, computing magazines, etc.
    2. Ask/research before you leap–but, remember, nothing is going to blow up if you try out new things.
    3. Back up everything before making a change.

  147. Rmanwide

    1. Don’t back anything up, you’ll be fine.
    2. Google is too hard to use, ask that guy over there trying to eat his lunch.
    3. Antivirus is for losers.

  148. Thomas

    1. Install Firefox and make it your default browser.
    2. Install the World of Trust (WoT) add-on for Firefox.
    3. Install a well-known, reliable anti-virus and anti-malware package from a reputable company. Lots of magazines such as Consumer Reports and PC Magazine do comparisons and ratings of anti-virus software at least once each year.

    And a word or caution for each of my friends out there. The phrase “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” is just as important in cyberspace as it is in meat-space.

  149. lewis

    1) learn to you linux
    2) use linux
    3) continue to learn linux / learn to hate windows

  150. Shay

    1. Google everything you want to know by searching for keywords only and nothing is relevant further then page 3

    2. Sound great and free!? it’s FAKE! don’t click it.

    3. be careful with downloading.

  151. jthelw

    Take a class.
    Learn workarounds.
    Realize that you’re probably not going to break it, so experiment!

  152. Dennis

    1) Whichever browser you use, USE it; the Internet is the repository of all human knowledge and you are not the first person this has happened to.
    2) Antivirus…antivirus…antivirus…updated antivirus…antivirus…
    3) There’s no crying in computers!

  153. Rob Mc

    1 – dont give yourself admin rights!
    2 – Make TWO backups of everything. one onsite; one offsite.
    3 – use Google

  154. eubillie

    1. Use linux–Ubuntu is probably the best for newbies
    2. Use google when you’re stuck or need to know more
    3. Gain a basic knowledge of the command line and keep a command reference guide (aka a cheatsheet) nearby

  155. CinIsMe

    1. Use verifiable software to keep all updates current. That way you don’t need virus protection!
    2. Keep all of your personal information private on the web.
    3. Keep this site in your favorites…you will need the help!

  156. Aileen

    1. Is it is a MUST to learn how to back-up your data and DO-IT !!!!!!

    2 & 3. These go hand in hand to me….If they can, create a partition (if not, make a folder with their name) and use this for ALL data that is generated. The second half is to start out organized and stay that way. This will involve going in to programs (Word, Excel, Browser, etc.) and make it so each time something is saved it goes to that dedicated Partition / Folder.

    Then when it is time to execute that back-up in step one, it will be that much easier, not to mention much easier to retrieve you personal files when the hard drive fails (not if but when).

    -Aileen

  157. Brendan

    1). Back up anything important that you would panic about if your computer died.
    2). Don’t be afraid to explore and try things out.
    3). Don’t trust every website and every file you download.

  158. shepard

    1. BACK UP FILES!
    2. Set anti-virus for auto update of definition files
    3. Don’t call me!

  159. DJGray

    1. Save Often.
    2. Have a backup of all important data/documents.
    3. Use a reputable antivirus program.
    4. Do NOT fall for all of the “free” offers online.

  160. Aileen

    @Iagoman –I am not sure if you are aware, but a mirror back-up will only work if you have a HD failure (which the odds are, it will happen in time). But if you have something go wrong with the SW, like a virus, what is on one HD will be on the other (hence Mirror)….you may want to go with a different RAID option other than a mirror, but it is a step in the right direction.

  161. jadedSysAdmin

    1. go outside an play. Your new beast is a destined-to-be-outdated timesuck.
    2. If you wanna chat, go to the supermarket or knock on a neighbor’s door.
    3. Above all, stay off of the internet. Especially if you don’t want strangers to know your business.

  162. IMSA12

    Out of the box:

    1- Create backup discs (if not provided) as per manufacturer’s instructions. This may take a while.

    2- Uninstall all crapware and pre-loaded applications you won’t be using. (They’re easy to replace.) Then, defragment your computer. Ask a knowledgeable friend for help.

    3- Once you’ve established an internet connection, download and install operating system updates, hardware updates, security updates, and these free maintenance/security apps:
    CCleaner
    Advanced SystemCare
    Malwarebytes.

    And as others have said, if you don’t know where it’s from, or what it does, or what it is, you probably don’t want it. Click on the red X to kill it, and Google it later if you’re still curious.

  163. aplusguy

    1. Always have a 13 year old on speed dial. They will be able to help with any of the basics.
    2. Go through the family tree to find any computer geeks. When you find one or two, call to have them fix something simple. The general rule is NOW THEY WILL HAVE TO HELP YOU FOR FREE FOR THE REST OF THEIR ENTIRE LIFE! This is an unwritten rule that techs never speak of but they know what I’m talking about……
    3. Forget M$ and use Linux.

  164. Slomem

    1) Get a reliable anti-virus application
    20 Join a good help forum.i.e….How to Geek
    3) Download all system, Anti-virus, and application updates and patches.

    Honorable Mention : Any key means “ANY KEY”

  165. Jmortj5

    Most of these are alright, but I agree most with floydfan. If the person is a true newbie… these are my exact steps. They work, tried and tested, for my mother lmao.
    1.Read what happens on your screen, evaluate what it is saying/asking. If it sounds as a positive, click ok, if it sounds negative, when in doubt, close it out! :D

    2. Don’t be afraid to try different things even if you don’t know what you are doing, if any question about what you are doing is ok/safe for the computer, see rule number 1!

    3. Don’t give up if you can’t figure something out. If you are trying a new program or installing something, read! If it says anything about toolbars, making homepages, and has the option to NOT install that part, don’t, if it doesn’t give you any option, close out and don’t install. But don’t be afraid to try new things. If you need help with something, ask.

    Also if they are THAT new and no experience, I spell out each step…. step by every tedious step, down to which mouse button. I’ve written some walkthroughs for several people, just so they are made to do what they are trying to do, so it sticks. Instead of taking over the mouse and showing. If they are true newbies and they are nervous I am usually right there to answer questions. I like teaching, which is scary lol

  166. Mike

    save early save often to avoid retyping something because the power went off or the computer crashed or…?

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Don’t download or install something because it is supposed to make your computer run better.

    Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

  167. minnetonka

    Use Firefox or Chrome with Better Privacy
    Install Web of Trust and look at Google-displayed link before blindly clicking
    Use a free version of one of top-rated antivirus programs (Avast, etc.)

    Use HTG for excellent articles on setting up browers, backup, protection. Love HTG!!

  168. lostnsavd

    You have to take a driving test to drive a car. Therefore, everyone should have to take a computer test in order to own a computer.

  169. steve0

    1. google is your friend

    2. learn how to boot into safe mode and use windows recover tools.

    3. install an antivirus, scan often, and stop clicking on the flashing pink and green banner that says “you’re a winner”

  170. Confuzzler

    1. If you really really don’t know what you’re doing, don’t get a computer – nicely ask to borrow a friend’s while they supervise
    2. If you get stuck, Google it!!!
    3. You will never get an iPad, a cruise in the Caribbean or a million bucks by clicking on an ad.

    And if there were four, when you are downloading something, don’t just click install, make sure they aren’t giving you crapware too.

  171. Mauricio

    1. Learn how to Google there is always an easier way to do something (to newbies)
    2. I do not use antivirus (a newbie should use one) anyway be aware of emails even from known people and never instal a program without read a lot of comments
    3. Backup critical information

  172. Edward

    1.) RTM
    2.) Stop bugging me

  173. Deserthiker77

    Everyone need to remember the question was for a new user. A new user doesn’t know how to back up files, etc.

    1. The FIRST GOLDEN RULE for a new User is ( STAY OUT OF THE BIOS-NO MATTER WHAT )

    2. Remember clicking ( OK ) a lot of times also means ( APPLY ), so click ( CANCEL ) when done exploring unknown territory on your new computer.

    3. Yes definitely learn how to use a search engine to answer your questions and learn or call friend or family for help.

    Antivirus, backing up files, ads, and using Firefox and not IE is a givin since the friend or family member set the new computer up that way, etc., are second nature for us but the question was for a new user. A new computer user know nothing whatsoever.

  174. Don Ambrose

    1. When in doubt, reboot – and reboot at least once a day.
    2. Security software and updates are important but not as important as common sense.
    3. Learn how to make backups of any stuff you don’t want to lose.

  175. Kevalin

    1. Spend the money on an external back up drive–then USE IT.
    2. Spend the money on a good back up program–then USE IT.
    3. Don’t save any emails that contain passwords that matter in your email account OR on your computer.

  176. Robyn

    1. Google it. Don’t just read the first entry: read several, then make up your mind.
    2. Approach anything Windows-based warily. Even with anti-virus/anti-spyware/yada-yada, Windows is NOT safe. No version.
    3. Back up everything, save everything, do versions of your work.

  177. Dariansweb

    1. Take class Computer Literacy 101
    2. Take class Using the Internet 101
    3. Then, go to the store and buy a computer with in-store protection and service warranty.

    The rest is a wonderful journey of experiencing cool technology you should enjoy because you’ve taken basic classes and have a support team just a phone call away which you paid for with in-store warranty and protection.

  178. Danny

    1) you WILL destroy your computer eventually, so don’t be afraid of tinkering!
    Computers are for fun! (and they aren’t so expensive nowadays)

    2) backup!

    3) Google

  179. Deano

    1) Learn to backup data and use antivirus
    2) Learn to use Google
    3) Install an adblocker on your browser

    A super-close 4th would be 4) If your PC breaks down, pick it up, throw it out the window and go buy a mac.

  180. Rick

    1) Get Firefox
    2) Use Google Search Engine for everything you need to know
    3) Use Google Products (GMail, Docs, Groups, and VOICE). They are a life saver.

  181. ichido

    1. Use LINUX, like Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint. The Operating System(s) is/are Free, no cost and so is the Software! NO VIRUS = NO Anti-Virus Software needed!
    2. Join the Distro’s Forum!! Free Help!
    3. Use Goggle or DuckDuckGo to search for answers.

    Discover what Real Freedom is like!
    You can have several different Operating Systems on a single PC to try each and compare.
    Distrowatch.com is a good place to start looking!

  182. robdanet

    1) Learn how to register with forum websites and ask about anything you like.

    2) Buy a good book about your OS and read it, it will give you a good level of self-confidence and a useful source of knowledge.

    3) As soon as you feel ready for it, learn the basic of web programming( HTML, CSS, JavaScript ), it will be incredibly useful for becoming an experienced user.

  183. josh

    1. GOLDEN RULE: learn the dos and donts of the web.. can tell you how many uneducated freinds of mine have actually did huge mistakes like giving away personnel info to “correct” mistakes that the internet says they have…………..

    2. the internet is in ink

    3.do you really need THAT MANY FREAKING TOOLBARS! (I.T. has taken its toll on me)

  184. Matthew Jones

    1. When in doubt, Google. If you are are still unsure, ask someone.
    2. PATIENTS! If the computer is going slow,don’t add more for it to do.
    3. Learn why to do something, not just how.

  185. tommy2rs

    1. Don’t use Windows

    2. If you insist on using Windows, don’t connect it to the Internet

    3. If you use Windows and connect to the internet write my number on your hand because you will be calling me sooner than later.

  186. Max Bancroft

    (1) Set yourself up with a generic email address such as yahoo , gmail , hotmail etc . This will enable to change your ISP if you see a better deal and you won’t have to notify contacts you have changed your email address as it always remains the same.
    (2) Never give credit card or banking details on line Set up a Paypal account instead.
    (3) Never open attachments or click links found in emails from people you don’t know, it is the quickest way to get your computer infected with Trojans, Viruses etc.
    (4) Buy an external hard drive and back files up to it regularly.
    (5) Download Incredimail, it is the best email provider ever.
    (6) Cold Callers in Boiler rooms will telephone you and say they are calling from Microsoft. Hang up immediately as it is a scam.
    (7) The shop that sold you the computer will generally be willing to give you assistance if you have a problem.

  187. nahorsingh

    1.If you come across any error..start understanding them and find a way to solve them ….( Gets really interesting when you get down to the core of computing …)
    2.Make use of google and its products effectively.
    3.Learn to make playlists …(you can enjoy to music while you work )

  188. Qrazydutch

    1. Know what will happen BEFORE you touch anything
    2. Only experiment on computers in the library
    3. Ensure the FIRST thing you do is to create an image and emergency rescue disk (2) separate actions.

    4. Read all of the above ( I mean all the other posts), some of them are great!!!!!

  189. Carl

    1. Install Avast! free version and switch to “silent/gaming” mode.
    2. Don’t click on any links in e-mails.
    3. Don’t ask me – Google is your best friend!

  190. Matt T

    1) Use Google
    2) Read all message boxes before dismissing
    3) Don’t put spaces in web addresses!!! (drives me crazy)

    ~4) Don’t search for Google in bing
    ~5) Don’t call your flash drive a USB

  191. JOeJo

    1. Back up
    2. Keep everything, your browser, flash, java etc up to date
    3. If you use Google to try to resolve an issue with your computer, be sure you know exactly what the problem is. You may wind up breaking another thing while trying to fix something else.

  192. ThrHub

    1) get to know a Techy Geek

    2) don’t do anything that might be a risk without asking your Techy Geek

    3) don’t put your kids pics on Facebook/Twitter etc etc

  193. Rudy

    1. Have always somebody in the neighborhood ready to help, ready to give you some piece of advice.. But try to learn to solve your problems yourself first !
    2. Make a backup of your data regularly. If something happen, there are no consequences.
    3. Use the best computer/operating system/tools for the tasks you need to succeed. Do not decide by example to use Windows because it is the operating system that your computer was shipped with. Question the choices people try to impose on you.

  194. John Scanlon

    BEWARE OF ALL INTERNET SITES THAT PROMISE YOU THE EARTH, YOU WILL FINISH ON A DUNG HEAP AND DRIVEN MAD BY AN ARMY OF SCAMMERS THAT ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED. SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST AVAILABLE VIRUS PROTECTION SYSTEM THAT SUITS YOUR PURPOSES AND STICK TO IT. BE SELFISH, DONT ALLOW ANYONE ELSE TO USE YOUR MACHINE WITHOUT YOUR SUPERVISION. ( YOU WOULD NOT HANG THE KEYS OF YOUR HOUSE ON THE FRONT DOOR WOULD YOU? )

  195. Ringo

    1. Back up.
    2. Get a good anti virus.
    3. Clean up and scan regularly.

  196. jeroen

    1. Beware of acolytes (be it Windows, Apple, Linux …); they will try to bias you into their “religion”.
    2. Protect yourself (get antivirus program, but more importantly, adopt safe behaviour [ask me!]
    3. Backup your stuff regularly.

  197. Brett

    1. Back up regularly. Data files are the most critical. Make backups easy to do so you DO do them.
    2. Don’t do things you don’t understand. Don’t blithely press “OK” after being asked ‘Are you sure?’ unless you really DO know.
    3. Google things you don’t know. Think about good keywords to use.

    And of course … nothing is private on the net, and you are hackable if someone is determined enough.

  198. Brett

    @QrazyDutch: Great post. Agreed, read all the above – there are some excellent posts.

  199. AndyR

    I am amazed at how many peoples computer worlds are firmly focosed on ‘Google’. Don’t realise that there are load of other things a computer can do? Anyway, my suggestions would be:

    1. Back up everythying.
    2. Do it again, to be sure.
    3. Check that all your back ups are done.

  200. theshader2

    1. Check whether you have got or have to make a recovery disc(s)
    2. Get advice on backups, both Image and Data. Sooner or later you will need them
    3. Learn and practice how to restore the backups. It may be too late when something goes wrong

  201. Saeed Iranzad

    Hi
    1- When you install or generally use your computer, read every comment carefully and don’t ignor windows and other software messages.
    2- Be careful about your system security.
    3- Don’t crowd your system with unnecessary software and avoid being a pack rat.

  202. Indy

    (based on the picture for this article)
    - wear your bra on the inside of your shirt, not the outside
    - you are obviously frustrated, get up and go to Starbucks for a vinte white chocolate mocha
    - It might help if you turn on your computer first (screen is blank)

  203. Adam

    1. The machine must not kill people, 2. It must take all input, 3. It must not self destruct.
    for real though:

    1. Ubuntu. (you can always watch netflix on your wii or ps3)
    2. Back up your important files.
    3. Chrome is your friend.

  204. zepe

    1. Slow down, don’t be in such a rush to click.
    2. Learn to read
    3. Learn and practice good security

  205. Wes

    1. Learn how to manage a *nix system from command line.
    2. Learn to create the software you need.
    3. Read and ask questions.

  206. Zeke

    1. Try Something
    2. Learn from it
    3. Feedback #2 into #1 and repeat

  207. coolkid3245

    @Indy LOL so funny!

  208. Zeke

    Really, the premise of this is flawed:

    “This week we’d like to you imagine, if you will, that you must distill down your computer knowledge into three rules to pass on to a new computer user. What do you tell them? How do you save them from making the mistakes you made?”

    I’ve reduced what I know about computers. (My post, a distillation of the system engineering process). Saving them from making my mistakes, or their own, hinders the process.

    Without mistakes, you can’t learn… if you don’t want to learn how to use a computer, buy an iPad.

  209. LadyValory

    1) BE PATIENT & READ – a computer is a machine it needs time to compute and respond. It is not as advanced as the human brain – give it time to do it’s work. Failure to do so will cause problems
    2) PREPARE for disaster – install backup internet browsers, establish a system for backing up files you can not recreate and install a malaware/virus/repair/remote assist program (MS Fix It is handy for the novice http://support.microsoft.com/fixit/). Set up a backup and system clean up/update schedule and stick to it.
    3) CHANGE IS INEVITABLE – nothing in technology stays the same – be prepared to learn, explore and discover this vast new world with the understanding that what you think you know may not always be the only way.

  210. Little John

    1. De-crap the hard drive — The maker likes to load your hard drive with junk you will never use.
    2. Install free anti-virus — I like to use MS Security Essential (Forget Norton just doesn’t work)
    3. Backup — Backup — Backup. Did I say to Backup after your hard drive crash??

    The best anit-malware program is your brain, use it and if you don’t how to or error message then use Google or Bing to find the answer. Now if search engine return some you don’t understand then call a computer tech. Never open a email from unknown person or attachment from anybody.

  211. Woody

    1. Backup, backup, backup
    2. See one.
    3. The caps lock and shift key do not do the same thing.

  212. Robyn Voss

    1. Make sure you have one and only one anti-virus program that updates automatically on your computer.
    2. Save, save, save!!!
    3. Do not use Internet Explorer as your web browser.

  213. Xavier

    1. If someone show you how to fix something, unless you have a photographic memory–take notes!! Odds are you will come across the problem again.

    2. Clicking something that is not responding several hundred times is NOT the same as kicking it and making it work–you are just making things worse.

    3. Antivirus software is successful for a reason–use it! And if you frequent porn sites, gambling sites and torrent sites you are asking for what you get–trouble.

  214. Ryan

    -Reboot
    -Google it before asking a “how to” question
    -Learn how to use System Restore

  215. Jon

    1.) As the I.T Crowd would say “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?”
    2.) When you are not sure about a pop up or message. Read it first before you ask someone. Most of the time they are pretty self explanatory.
    3.) Don’t be afraid to play around with the computer, fear is your #1 computer problem.

  216. johnp80

    1)Use Chrome or Firefox, do not use IE. Use Adblock Plus with either of those two products.
    2)Use MSE. If you have some lingering doubts about Microsoft products, use Avira or avast, but expect me to cuss about those because they are too similar to malware in behavior(slow your computer to a crawl, display ads, and are otherwise no bueno).
    3) Backup.

  217. Bill Cairns

    1. Read what is on the screen.
    2. Read what is on the screen.
    3. Read what is on the screen.

    (And – if I can please be allowed a fourth):

    4. Read what is on the screen.

  218. Dave

    Read what is front of you, if you don’t understand it, type the same message into Google, you should then get an idea what the message was and it’s meaning.

    Do not be afraid, it’s only a tin box and will not bite you. Try it and see, if you are unsure leave it or again Google it.

    Never ever ever accept anything free until you have Googled it and found out what it is and if it is safe to use.

  219. James of Chesapeake

    1. When you run into problems, problem solve from basic to complex: Check the simple stuff first.

    2. Don’t run around a battlefield naked. Get a good anti-virus and anti-intrusion package for your system (there’s a bunch of good ones that are cheap or free).

    3. Have a personal disaster plan ranging from ‘my hard drive crashed’ to ‘my house burned down’. That backup drive can’t help you if it burns down with the house and PC.

  220. ROYBOY0012

    1. Don’t click on anything that flashes.
    2. Google if you have a question.
    3. Use a “!” in all passwords and write them down WHEN you create them.

    An alternate 3rd rule could be “ctrl,alt,delete”.

  221. crab

    1) What does your book say about it?
    2) Well what does google say about it?
    3) Maybe I can come over some time next week.

  222. CMoon

    If you see the boot message:
    Keyboard not detected, press F1 to start
    Just do it!

  223. Bill

    Rule Number One.
    Dont try to memorize every new program and application or windows feature..
    Try to only remember the capabilities..
    Then use your intuition to find that menu item or function.

    Windows is intuitive………….to a point:)
    Some programs more intuitive that others.

    e.g.
    “how do I print in Excel?? I have never done it before??”

    Think about it………..how did you print in Word!

    You will only learn by doing……….ask as a last resort.

    But then what do I know…………..LOL

  224. Hadi

    1.back up
    2.clicking “cancel” or “no” is the best option when you know know what you are doing. it does worth starting your job over sometimes.
    3.manipulate the choices as much as you can and when you do not have anybody to ask/ internet access just try to read all the massages you see during your work-i know it take centuries to finish your work.

  225. Erwin

    1. Protect your privacy
    2. use a spamfilter
    3. use adblock
    4. use your common sense

  226. Migwans

    1) Practice good housekeeping- Disc Cleanup, Defrag, updates

    2) READ the link BEFORE you click on it, titles lie. If in doubt, DON”T CLICK!

    3) Learn by doing, just don’t save changes! Don’t be afraid of your computer

  227. vicsar

    1.) RTFM
    2.) Stay away from me
    3.) There are no stupid questions, only stupid people asking stuff.

    Seriously now:
    1.) Backup
    2.) Backup your backup
    3.) Read, inform yourself, before you ask

  228. Gaby

    Why three?… one it’s enough: LEARN !!!

    PS: or better… don’t use it! :))

  229. Heather Morris

    1.) Backup often and make multiple backups.
    2.) Make sure security software is installed and is updating regularly.
    3.) Use complex passwords.

  230. Bill Slater

    1) Keep your computer and antivirus up-to-date regularly.
    2) What seems too be to good to be true IS probably too good to be true. (Don’t fall for lottery, prizes,free screensavers, emails asking for your password & credit card info.)
    3) Get background information on websites and software that you don’t know about before accessing them or installing them.(eg. A program called Internet Security 2010 is actually a virus program and not a antivirus software)
    Search for them on Google before you install it.

  231. Ashok Poolla

    1. First Google , if results not found , then ask HTG ;-)

    2. tinger , deploy , dont scream for something u dont know

    3. newbies actually should watch the “get started” published with the apps and stuff blah blah !

    thats all ! geek !

  232. Spanih_Guitor

    1. A PC is like your car, maintain it regularly to optimize its performance.
    2. Update your Anti-Virus regularly.
    3. Always backup your vital data.

  233. Hek

    1. Back up all data
    2. Erase all addresses on received mail before forwarding it.
    3. Don’t forward any mail without checking for truth/accuracy . . . most is false.

  234. Dave in Vermont

    1. Don’t send your friends all that “cute” stuff that gets forwarded to you.
    2. Delete without reading anything with more than one “FWD” in the Subject of an email.
    3. Don’t post any of that junk on Facebook either.

  235. Lisa

    The first step is anti-virus protection. Number two would be become educated ad do not give anyone passwords or your personal information. The third rule is too update all applications on a regular basis. Backup is also a great time saver.

  236. Wat

    What I don’t have rich Nigerian relatives? God dammit!

  237. jthelw

    People seem to love Google…………….

  238. tottin

    1. The ESC key will NOT wipe the hard drive. 2. Pleeeease make use of help files. 3. It is not good to put refrigerator magnets on the sides of your case.

  239. Al

    1. Any email that you receive that promises you anything is a scam.
    2. Don’t open, download or install anything if you don’t know for sure what it is and who published it.
    3. Install reputable virus software and keep all software up to date.

  240. CJ

    1. Backup
    2. Antivirus and keep it updated
    3. Backup again

  241. Faith

    1. Always use Google (even when it seems like such a tiny thing)
    2. First command to learn: (Ctrl + S)
    3. Don’t mess with drive C (especially Programs and Windows folders)

  242. Doug

    1) Always save what you are working on!
    2) Never store anything on your PC…use an external hard drive and back it up!
    3) If you don’t know…ask!

  243. Phil

    -Learn basic file structure
    -Understand basic file structure
    -Use basic file structure
    (it’s the foundation)

  244. Paula

    If you don’t know who it is then don’t add them, if you don’t what it is then don’t click on it, and if you don’t know what it is for… don’t take it out!

  245. Dave

    1) Install Microsoft Security Essentials
    2) Install all updates promptly no matter what operating system you use. The Mac trojan is exploiting a vulnerability in people’s computers which was fixed THREE YEARS AGO!
    3) Be smart. If a pop up says your computer is infected it isn’t. If an email asks you for private info, don’t give it out!

  246. Barbara

    1) Don’t be afraid of ruining your computer. It can be fixed.
    2) Take all risks you want to learn more.
    3) Act like a kid with a new toy.

  247. wildfire

    1: Backup, Backup,Backup
    2:: Google, Google, Google
    3:Don’t click on shiney crap because nobody is giving away anything!!!

  248. MDQ

    1. A computer is good for more than just playing solitaire.

    2. Never use white-out on your screen to make corrections.

    3. Create a login password and never share your computer with teenagers – the price of getting them their own PC will be way less than the price and inconvenience of constantly fixing your own. You never know then you might have a solitaire emergency!!

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