Five top tips: Good working practices in the office

There are so many easy things that you can do to ensure you keep good working practices either at home or in the office.

Here are five top tips:

1) When to Reboot your computer:

It is a well-known joke around the IT world, that support calls always begin with “have you tried rebooting?”  It may seem like a frivolous joke, but there is truth to the joke for good reason.   Your computer performs important updates and resets during a reboot, so rebooting regularly keeps your computer functioning at its best.

Your computer should be rebooted at least once per week.  A good habit is to shut down your computer at the end of your working day.  This ensures your computer is updated regularly and that your machine also gets the opportunity to completely cool down.

During normal operations the internal components of your computer heat up, and most workstations are not designed to handle these high temperatures for long.  They are normally designed to stay warm for 8-10 hours per day.  Machines that are run for longer than that regularly often have a much shorter life, as internal components wear out quicker.

To reboot your machine, press the windows icon on screen (or the windows button on your keyboard), select the power icon, then restart.

We recommend shutting down your computer at the end of each shift, following the same procedure, but selecting Shut down.

2) Installing Apps, Yourself:

During your working day, you may find the occasional time where you feel the need for a new application you don’t already have, to perform an additional function, or to improve on the application you currently use.  New, and free, applications can be easily found on the internet, but these applications can be malicious, and it can be hard to tell which is and which isn’t.  In addition, a malicious application can contain a virus or open a “back door” giving others access to your device with your knowledge.

We strongly recommend that you do not install applications on your machine without first vetting the application for safety.  All the software you need to perform your job would normally be provided to you from your manager, so make sure you talk to your manager if you require additional software, so you can make a safe plan.

Alternatively, you can contact your IT Alliance Member and we can help you decide if this is safe software to install.

3) What to do when you get an Antivirus Alert

Sometimes your computer will show you a scary looking virus alert. We often get calls from users who worry about these alerts and wonder what they should do about them.  Good news!  There is nothing to do.  These alerts simply mean that your antivirus software is doing its job.

In the event you get an antivirus alert like this that means that the antivirus software has recognized malware or a virus on your computer, and that the software has done its job and protected you from the attack.  You don’t need to do anything, except relax knowing you are being taken care of.

Of course, if you are still unsure, call us and we can check it out for you.

4) My computer has an Error Message

Error messages can, but should not be, a regular occurrence on a computer.  Error messages appear for a variety of reasons, but the top reasons are:

  • The application you are using has a problem
  • Your operating system has internal issues with itself
  • Hardware in your computer has issues

If you get the occasional error message, then you can usually safely ignore the message, or close and reopen the offending application.  Most of the time the error is temporary and will not appear again.

However, if the error message keeps coming back, or you are getting a variety of different error messages, then this is an issue you should raise a ticket for.

If possible, take a screenshot of the error when it occurs, so you can send this to your technician.  Alternatively, call your technician when the error occurs, so they can look at it immediately.  Seeing the error message can hold some vital clues as to what is going wrong on your machine.

5) Going away from Your Workstation

Computer security is a big topic of conversation right now, but one discussion that is often not discussed is physical security.  One critical piece of physical security that you are responsible for is how you leave your computer.  Whenever you are away from your computer, it should be secured so that others cannot use your unlocked computer while you are not there.  This can potentially give up sensitive information to malicious “guests” in your office or to other internal staff.  To prevent this type of intrusion, whenever you are away from your computer you should lock your machine.  You can do this by

PRESS (on your keyboard): <windows><L>

or PRESS (on your keyboard): <ctrl><alt><delete>

Then, SELECT the “Lock” option on screen

You can also set your “Power and Sleep” settings so that your computer is automatically locked after a certain period of inactivity.  WE recommend this be set to a maximum of 5 minutes.  This means that if you leave your machine, and forget to lock your machine, then your machine is at worst unlocked for 5 minutes.

If you require any more information on any of these practices, or how to increase your security in the office or at home, please reach out to your ITA member.

Victoria McNoe – Decision1