8 simple ways to help IT maintain your computer and devices at work
Your PC and mobile devices are critical to your job. Every day you rely on them to perform tasks, connect with people, and access resources. Maintaining your computer and keeping it running smoothly can even be closely tied to job performance.
At work, your computer and devices are part of a larger network. Keeping them running means you have to work closely with your IT department. Doing so can save you time, save your company money, and help enhance network security. This article offers tips and best practices for working with your IT department to help keep your computer and devices up to date and functioning properly.
Know who owns the computer
You might take your work computer home, but it's important to realize that your company owns the computer. As the owner, your employer has the right to install patches and updates on a regular basis. By installing updates and new Microsoft software, your employer can make sure your computer and the network run as smoothly as possible. A software update is usually a win-win event, even if it causes a minor inconvenience.
"It's common for IT departments to get complaints about patches being put on computers," says Jim DuBois, a general manager for IT at Microsoft. "But it is the best way for companies to make sure the network and computers remain secure."
To further protect their computers and network security, many companies prevent users from altering software or even changing settings.
Learn best practices for helping IT maintain your computer
Use these best practices to help protect and maintain the computer you use at work. You should contact your IT department to determine specific policies.
Install all updates required by your IT department. Lacking the software updates required by your IT department can expose your company to viruses and other security risks, and some companies will block network access if patches aren't installed by a set date. It’s a good idea to find out whether IT wants you to install software updates from Microsoft Update. If so, check for Microsoft updates regularly. Doing so can prevent the hassle of installing updates for IT when it's not convenient for you, and you might avoid potentially costly and time-consuming damage-control measures, such as spyware removal.
Install only licensed programs. Make sure that you or your company has a license for any software you install on your work computer. Software for which you've bought a license is probably fine, but unlicensed software can trigger litigation, so installing that program your friend bought could pose a problem. Sometimes software bought for home use cannot legally be installed at work. It’s best to double-check licensing details and to get the IT department’s approval before you install.
Don't install different versions of software. Even if you prefer the software version you use at home, don't install it on your work computer. It could be incompatible with the software your coworkers use or with your specific line of business applications. Also, your IT department may not be able to make required updates or to provide technical support for unapproved software.
Let IT know when hardware isn't working. Fixing a broken computer yourself could just cause more problems. Your fixes could, for example, result in network incompatibility. Most IT departments have a help desk or technical assistance program designed to diagnose and correct problems. In fact, your IT department may have already seen the problem and could have a known fix for it. By contacting IT, you can help them to track common problems and to make informed choices about which brand and model of device to order in the future.
Let IT know when you need something. Making reasonable requests and giving the IT department adequate time to plan can help them respond to your needs. Otherwise, you may end up with software or hardware you don't want, which can hinder your effectiveness at work.
Don't download programs from Internet sites you don't trust. When you download programs that may not be secure, you jeopardize the entire network.
Be aware of suspicious emails. A computer virus may be disguised as a downloadable file attached to an email. If you receive an email from someone you don't know, or if an email contains strange text or looks suspicious, contact your IT department. If you open it, you could cause problems for you and your coworkers. If it does contain a virus, IT can ask other employees to look for similar emails.
Use online support resources. Many IT departments have created internal help sites to provide solutions and advice to computer users, and yours probably has, too. Check there first, but if you don’t find answer for your question about a Microsoft product, or if your company doesn’t have an IT department, you can tap these resources:
Choose work-compatible pocket PCs and smartphones
If you work on the road, your company may provide you with a Windows Phone to stay in touch with the office. If you decide to buy your own, though, first check whether your IT department has a list of recommended devices. There are many options for phones and for data and voice plans. Your IT department may already support specific brands, models, and plans. Buying those can make it easier to connect to the network and to get support if you need it.
What if my company doesn’t have an IT department, or what if I work alone?
Whether you work in a small company that doesn’t have an IT department or you are self-employed, many of the best practices outlined above still make good sense. Wherever you work, up-to-date software contributes to the safety and efficiency of your computer, and no online computer should be without current antivirus software. If PC performance is an issue, most computer users are able to complete basic performance-enhancing tasks, such as defragmenting a hard drive, deleting unneeded programs, and emptying the Internet cache. Users who are more tech savvy can consider adding random access memory (RAM) to boost performance. You might also choose to automate your PC maintenance schedule. If you find yourself stumped, the Microsoft Knowledge Base, Troubleshooting 101, and Windows Help & How-to are excellent solutions resources.
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