6 PC myths related to its maintenance

The pc myths they are something very extended and that with the passage of time have been mutating due to technological evolution. To this we must add many technicians and “experts” who continue to operate with the same knowledge they acquired 10 years ago or more, which is why, on many occasions, they end up giving wrong advice.

Within home computing, the evolution of Windows and the expansion of SSDs have simplified maintenance, a point that has traditionally been one of the biggest Achilles tendons of the Microsoft system. Running an antivirus, defragmenting the hard disk and cleaning the registry have for many years been routines to carry out if you wanted to have the operating system in good condition, but for some time now this has not been the case (obviously, here we enter into a topic that revolves around nuance).

Seeing that many PC myths are still very much alive today, we are going to dismantle six of them to try to shed light on how to proceed correctly when it comes to maintaining the computer on some fronts. While we are going to focus on Windows, we will also cover Linux and macOS in one of the sections with the purpose of dismantling the image of “invincible” systems that they have against malware and malicious actors.

The status of antivirus in Windows

Within the Windows spectrum, the situation of antiviruses (which are technically antimalware) has changed a lot since version 10, since since then it has its own security solution pre-installed, called Windows Defender in the past and Microsoft Defender today. . Nowadays, using antimalware in Windows is still very important because, along with Android, it is the system most harassed by malware (and traditionally it has been the most by far).

Fortunately, Microsoft Defender is quite a quality antimalware according to tests carried out by AV-Test, although it has the drawback of not working very well offline. If a home user is careful about where he goes and what he downloads, with a regular and relatively frequent review he should have enough protection next to the real-time protection and the firewall of Windows itself. However, if the computer is BYOD or in a high-risk environment, it might be a good option to reinforce it with a good paid security solution (the free ones can be quite dangerous for users).

Apart from having to make proper use of Microsoft Defender and the firewall, another aspect that is often overlooked by Windows users is the type of account used by default. By default, Windows invites you to use an administrator-type account, which has been shown to be one of the main gateways for malware. Changing that administrator account for another common one is highly recommended to minimize the radius of action of threats.

Analyzing threats in Windows 10.

The myth that antiviruses are not necessary on Linux and macOS

After clarifying the panorama around Windows, we are going to dismantle one of the great myths of the PC: the image of invincibility that macOS and Linux have.

It is true that the amount of malware against macOS and Linux is much lower than that affecting Windows, and in the case of Linux, in most cases it is aimed more at server environments than at the desktop.

Among macOS and Linux users, the myth that their systems are invulnerable is widespread, but nothing is further from the truth, since the amount of malware against these systems has not stopped increasing over the past decade.

Linux and macOS don’t come with questionable design decisions like using an administrator account by default, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Secondly, Linux and macOS users tend to focus security too much on the essential parts of the system, often neglecting personal data that are usually the high priority of ransomware, to cite an example. Added to this is the great popularity enjoyed by μTorrent among Mac users, an application that can perfectly be considered a public threat.

Yes, using an antimalware solution might be worthwhile even on macOS and a Linux desktop, especially if the computer is BYOD or in an environment surrounded by poorly maintained or highly exposed computers, more if these are Windows. Apart from the Linux or macOS infection itself, it is also important to bear in mind that these systems can act as “seropositive”, that is, they can transmit malware without being affected because the target system is Windows or Android. Because of that, it’s not uncommon to find solutions for Linux and macOS that detect and remove malware targeting Windows.

Clamtk, graphical interface for ClamAV antimalware

Clamtk, graphical interface for ClamAV antimalware.

Should I defragment an SSD?

Another of the myths of the PC is in the defragmentation of the storage units present in computers, especially when it comes to dealing with an SSD unit.

Although in the early years they were shown as a not entirely reliable technology, SSDs have been polished to the point of displacing mechanical hard drives in many contexts. Moreover, mechanical hard drives are currently mainly used in contexts in which storage capacity prevails over performance, and it is that, whoever tries an SSD, then hardly returns to mechanical hard drives, more seeing that the latter are one of the main bottlenecks that can be found on the PC.

As we have already explained on previous occasions, carrying out the classic defragmentation process on an SSD is not recommended because a large number of read and write operations are performed on it, which shortens its life expectancy.

Modern Windows incorporate an optimization utility (previously defragmentation) that, in the case of SSDs, is responsible for sending TRIM orders to indicate which blocks of data are no longer being used in order to delete them, thus maintaining drive performance. However, if you still use a mechanical hard drive, it would be preferable to take a look from time to time to see if it is necessary to apply a manual procedure to optimize and improve the response.

Windows Disk Optimizer (formerly Defragmenter)

Windows Disk Optimizer (formerly Defragmenter).

Beware of cleaning applications

The use of cleaning applications is increasingly questioned among Windows users and it is not for less, more seeing that In general, they usually contribute between little or nothing of value and on many occasions they pose a risk to the system itself..

There are cleaning applications out there that promise to improve performance by cleaning the Windows registry and removing unnecessary software, as well as adding other possible features such as updating drivers and uninstalling programs, which depending on the case may require going through box to dispose of them. All this looks very nice on paper until one finds the misfortune that one of those applications has touched where it shouldn’t, causing the operating system to break.

Among the cleaning applications, the best known is CCleaner, which has gone from being a “hand of the saint” to falling into disgrace, to the extent that its use has been discouraged by Microsoft itself (although it may currently be found in the Redmond corporation store). Of course, there have always been voices out there that have not recommended it because of what has already been mentioned: the possibility that the system ends up broken.

Apart from the questionable situation of cleaning applications, we must add the evolution of Windows itself, which with the passing of versions has become increasingly resilient. Who doesn’t have that friend who reinstalled Windows XP every six months? Fortunately, updates permitting, it’s not uncommon to see the same Windows installation go on for years without problems that end up requiring a reinstall to resolve.

Of course, we must not confuse the questionable use of cleaning software with maintenance in terms of security, because that front must always be taken care of and not only in Windows, but also in iOS, macOS, Linux and especially Android. Windows has its own tools to solve problems such as uselessly occupied disk space.

CCleaner, an application that it would be better not to use

CCleaner, an app you’d be better off not using.

Turning off the computer is not bad

This point has its nuances, but if you do not use the computer for long periods of time, it would be preferable to keep it off during those hours.

The reality is that computer components have a limited useful life. and here you can highlight those already mentioned SSD. Keeping a computer on means that the storage drive is still receiving power and even workingbecause for a long time desktop operating systems have loaded a large number of processes that can end up performing read and/or write operations.

Another aspect in which it wins is in saving electricity, whose price in Spain has not stopped rising for a long time. Here using a top of the range equipment will probably make a difference in the electricity bill, so if it is not used, it would be better to turn it off.

Deleting a file from your computer doesn’t actually delete it.

Believing that operating system tools actually delete deleted files and directories is another PC myth that continues to be widespread. The truth is that, when a file or directory is deleted from the storage unit, what really happens is that the space it occupies is marked as “crushable”, that is, it is allowed to be overwritten. Consequently, it is very likely that the deleted data can be recovered with some recovery software if they have not been overwritten by others, although there are file systems such as XFS that make it more difficult than others when carrying out said process. .

There is a myth out there of using a magnet to erase data permanently, but the truth is that this method would only be effective on floppy disks that are not used today. On a modern mechanical hard drive it is very unlikely to have an effect and applied on an SSD it is directly useless.

To actually delete data from the storage unit, you would have to use some tool that does multiple overwrites until the deleted file, folder or data is truly unrecoverable. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all of them are effective in performing the task.

If what you want is to delete all the data on the storage unit, a crude way to do it is to apply dozens of processes of formatting and reinstallation of the system on the storage unit. Physically destroying the internal storage unit would be an option to consider depending on the circumstances.

Deleting data from a hard drive with physical methods

Conclusion: beware of PC myths

PC myths, unfortunately, are something that will always accompany us due to the existence of hoaxes that circulate on the Internet and the presence of technicians and people with other profiles who have not been updated for years, so they handle concepts obsolete that, on an SSD drive, can end up costing very expensive.

On the other hand we have the overconfidence of users. Among those of Windows there are many who overestimate the improvements received by the operating system through its latest versions, while among those of Linux and macOS there are still many who believe that they use something invincible against malware and that is why they do not have to to take precautions.

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