Technology Explained

10 Common Computer Myths You Need To Stop Believing

Bryan Clark 18-08-2015

Computers – to most of us – are a relatively simple machines to purchase, operate, and (for the most part) understand. To the average non-tech-oriented consumer, however, they are a scary device that’s made even more frightening by jargon, misconceptions and outright falsehoods.


Today we’re going to set the record straight on 10 of the most prevalent computer myths still in existence.

You Need to Defragment Your Drive Frequently


Here’s everything you need to know about defragmenting a modern computer: You don’t need to.

Windows computers have a built-in defragmentation utility that automatically runs in the background, on a pre-defined schedule. On OS X, Macs have a file system (OS X HFS+) that automatically defragments files in a process known as HFC – or – Hot File Adaptive Clustering.

Additionally, many modern computers are now shipping with SSD or flash storage 5 Things You Should Consider When Buying An SSD The world of home computing is moving towards solid state drives for storage. Should you buy one? Read More that should never be defragmented — it will actually ruin your SSD 3 Top Tips To Maintain Performance & Extend The Life Of Your SSD For years, standard hard drives have been the speed limiting factor in overall system responsiveness. While hard drive size, RAM capacity, and CPU speed have grown almost exponentially, the spinning speed of a hard drive,... Read More .


Viruses and Spyware are Slowing Down Your Computer


Any time a PC user runs into any sort of slowdown, the most common (and incorrect) thing to blame it on is malware (learn about the differences between malware, viruses, spyware, etc. Viruses, Spyware, Malware, etc. Explained: Understanding Online Threats When you start to think about all the things that could go wrong when browsing the Internet, the web starts to look like a pretty scary place. Read More ). While it’s always a possibility that the computer is infected, modern malware is so profit-driven that it’s in the creator’s best interest to keep it running stealthily in the background. As such, you won’t typically notice any performance decreases due to an infection.

Instead, it’s more likely that your computer is slower due to running too may programs simultaneously, unnecessary plugins and add-ons hogging CPU usage, lack of free RAM 8 Terms You Need to Know When Buying Computer RAM While RAM tends to be fairly easy to find and install, tracking down RAM compatible with your system can prove to be a bit more challenging than a casual user may be expecting. Read More or disk space, or a hardware problem How Heat Affects Your Computer, And Should You Be Worried? From time to time, we all get concerned about our computer's temperature. But should we be worried? Read More . Or it could just be that your computer is ageing – these 7 signs will tell you if it’s time to replace it 7 Warning Signs It's Time to Replace your Old PC When should you buy a new computer? Read More .

Paid “Cleaner” Software Improves Performance



We’ve all seen the ads that look something like, “Download X-Junk Removing Crapware Program for 300x Faster Speeds.” These programs promise to clean registry errors Using Registry Cleaner: Does Is It Really Make a Difference? Advertisements for registry cleaners are all over the Web. There’s an entire industry out there bent on convincing inexperienced computer users that their registry needs fixing, and that, for ten easy payments of $29.95, their... Read More , download driver updates, uninstall programs that you can’t manually uninstall, or clean your PC of “issues” of dubious origin and purpose.

The truth? This is junk software and it’s never needed, no matter what operating system you’re on.

These programs are commonly used to deliver malware, such as spyware or adware, and rarely do anything beneficial at all – if ever. Registry entries are tiny, and removing them frees up a minuscule amount of space that will have no performance benefit whatsoever Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Much advice has been given on how to keep your computer running smoothly, as well as how to fix it when it has become slow. We have even published a Windows on Speed guide, written... Read More .

Driver updates? You can download those yourself if and when you’re prompted or run into errors with peripherals.


Paid uninstallers? Not needed. If you can’t uninstall an application completely, the files they leave are usually in the registry, and too tiny to really worry about.

Cleaners? The issues that they actually clear up typically aren’t issues at all, but problems that make it appear as if they’re worth the money – or download.

You Don’t Need Antivirus Software

The two most common reasons for not needing antivirus software are usually: “I’m on a Mac and Macs don’t get viruses,” or “I don’t do anything online (torrent, view porn, visit spammy sites) that would get me infected.”

Both are completely incorrect. You always need an antivirus program.


Let’s address the Mac user first. Macs were once rather immune to viruses but it wasn’t due to anything other than the fact it was more time-efficient for virus writers to create infections for Windows-based PCs due to their complete domination of the market. As we start to reach some sort of parity, and OS X continues to gain marketshare on Windows, hackers have taken notice and suddenly Macs aren’t so immune anymore Mac User With Ransomware? How To Easily Remove This "Malware" Threat The FBI Ransomware didn't only affect Windows users; Mac owners were conned into paying up. Ironically, however, the OSX version wasn't really malware, but merely a browser popup that is easily removed. Read More .

On to the “safe” computer user. You’re never safe using a computer. Each time you turn your machine on, you’re taking a calculated risk that you won’t do anything that results in an infection to your machine. Not viewing porn, torrenting, or visiting fishy websites isn’t enough to keep you safe from all threats. In fact, neither can an antivirus program, but it certainly helps.

Turning Your Computer on and off Regularly Is Bad / Not Turning Your Computer off at Night Is Bad


There’s no absolute truth here. The fact is, leaving your computer on and allowing it to sleep while not in use is a safe and effective way to keep from having to turn it on and off regularly. System resources used as well as battery drain/power draw is minimal while in sleep mode.

On the other hand, you should turn your computer off from time to time Pros and Cons of Leaving Your Computer Turned On All the Time It has been one of the most long-running discussions in computing: is it better to leave your PC turned on when you're not using it, or should you always turn it off? Read More if there’s no need for it to be running. Every computer component has a limited lifespan, turning your computer off when it’s not needed will allow the components to last a bit longer.

Deleting Contents From Your Hard Drive Actually Erases Them / To Securely Erase Data, Use a Magnet


It would be comforting to all of us knowing that anything we deleted from our PC was gone forever. It’s not.

When you delete data, the visible traces of its existence might vanish, but the way data storage works the actual data remains What Is Data Recovery And How Does It Work? If you've ever experienced a major loss of data, you've probably wondered about data recovery -- how does it work? Read More until it is overwritten.

To keep things simple, think of your data as a footprint on a dusty floor. When you leave the room, your footprints remain, but as more and more people enter, they begin to cover your footprints with theirs. This is pretty similar to how data storage works. Deleted files are marked as available space on your drive, allowing the data to be overwritten. That will eventually happen, but until it does, the data remains recoverable.

To actually erase your data, some suggest using a magnet. This idea would work great if we were still using floppy disks, but with modern HDDs or flash storage devices, a magnet is a rather ineffective way of destroying data. Instead, experts suggest one of two methods:

  1. Use a program that makes multiple passes on your hard drive, and overwrites it with a series of 1’s and 0’s until it’s un-recoverable.
  2. Grab your drill and drill 10 to 12 holes through the drive and be sure to scatter them out rather than drilling in a straight line.

Macs are Better than PCs / Macs are Overpriced Junk

Macs are PCs, just PCs running OS X rather than Windows, or Linux.

The above being true, it’s impossible to say that they’re better than a Windows PC, so I’m not going to touch that one. As a Mac user myself, I think it’s probably best left to get the answer from our Windows Editor, Tina, as she tries out a Mac Apples vs. Oranges: A Long Time Windows User Meets OS X What could happen when a long-time Windows user drops their defense and uses a Mac for the first time in years? Read More after being a longtime PC user.

What I can address, however, is whether they are overpriced junk, or even if they’re overpriced at all. While they certainly aren’t budget PCs, the so-called “Apple tax” has been effectively eliminated and the price for most Apple devices is actually quite comparable to their Windows counterparts. For example, if you compare the MacBook Air to higher-end, light-weight, ultra-slim Windows laptop like the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, you’ll see that the price is actually quite comparable. The Mac Mini is another great example, as prices between it and comparable units from Dell and others are pretty similar.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro 80HE000LUS 13.3-Inch 8GB Soldered Convertible Ultrabook Tablet Touchscreen, Intel HD 5300 Graphics, Windows 8.1 Professional, Light Silver Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro 80HE000LUS 13.3-Inch 8GB Soldered Convertible Ultrabook Tablet Touchscreen, Intel HD 5300 Graphics, Windows 8.1 Professional, Light Silver Buy Now On Amazon $1,499.75

We even tried to see if it was worth building a homemade Mac Pro, or just buying one online, the results might surprise you To Buy The New Mac Pro Or Build Your Own? The Answer Might Surprise You Is the new Mac Pro reasonably priced when compared to a PC you can build yourself, or is the “Apple tax” in full effect? Prepare for a shock. Read More .

To Protect Yourself From Vulnerabilities, Use Firefox/Safari/Chrome/IE

defend your online privacy and security

“X” Browser being safer than “Y” browser is a comparison that really doesn’t have much to do with the consumers who use it. Browsers are simply an execution environment for JavaScript, and as such they’re all equally at risk to exploits and attacks. It’s also important to note that most browser-based attacks are through browser add-ons and plug-ins, not the browser itself.


To protect yourself, get a good antivirus program that detects online malware as well as local infections.

More (Cores, RAM, etc.) Are Always Faster

More is better… well, usually.

Adding more RAM How To Really Speed Up Your Computer - Common Myths & What To Do Instead Suffering from a slow computer? You might not know why and maybe you're trying to fix it in all the wrong ways. Let us help you with tips for a real speed boost. Read More will allow your computer to work a little more efficiently by reducing its dependance on virtual memory Is Your Virtual Memory Too Low? Here's How to Fix It! Computer memory issues can slow down your computer over time. Here's how to set the virtual memory size and boost performance. Read More . By doing so, your computer will feel like it’s running quicker.

Cores, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Quality matters, and a high-end quad-core processor will outperform a lower-end octo-core processor almost all the time. Additionally, the word “better” means different things to different users, and while more cores is better in the sense that it runs most programs faster, there are trade-offs in other areas, such as battery life.

While more is typically better, it’s not true all of the time.

Building Your Own PC Saves Money


Years ago, this was mostly true. Today, a budget PC is most often cheaper to obtain by purchasing a pre-built model. You can still save money building a higher-end machine, but for most consumer-driven PC models, it’s typically better to just buy one when they’re on sale.

That’s not to say that building your own PC isn’t worth it. For those that like a more hands-on experience, or just want to customize the machine to their liking, building your own is probably the way to go. It’s a rather simple process, and one we’ve detailed extensively. Whether you want to build your own mini PC What Makes Mini PCs so Small? And, the Best Mini PCs You Can Buy Today A new generation of mini PCs is making its way into our homes and offices now. Read More , Hackintosh How To Build Your Own Hackintosh This "How to Hackintosh" guide outlines what you need to do in order to build a power PC Hackintosh. This guide shows you the way. Read More , a budget gaming PC Custom Budget Gaming PC Build and Giveaway How hard is it to get a decent gaming PC without breaking the bank? If you go out and buy yourself a pre-assembled name-brand computer, chances are, it won't be powerful enough to be a... Read More , or a media center that will play anything How To Build a Media Center That Will Play Anything I've been building a media centre recently. Actually, scratch that – I’ve been building two. One is a compact device (my Raspberry Pi) running the RaspBMC distribution of XBMC, while the other is a traditional... Read More , we’ve got tutorials to help get you started.

What did I forget? What’s that one myth about PCs that drives you crazy, and you can’t wait to set the record straight? Sound off in the comments below.

Image credit: Frag’d by Everett, Virus by Yuri Samoilov, Shutdown by Acid Px, Death of a Hard Drive by Chris Bannister, all via Flickr

Related topics: Computer Memory, Debunking Myths, Defragmentation, Solid State Drive, Spyware.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    I disagree with the Antivirus part.

    I've been using my personal PC for over 4 years now and I've never installed a single antivirus program on it AT ALL!

    If you're careful about the sites you visit, the downloads you make and the ads you click on believe me there's no thing called a VIRUS ..

    • Anonymous
      September 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      You do have an antivirus program its called windows defender

    • Anonymous
      September 23, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      May be you have never been attacked or you did'nt notice.
      Somebody may have stolen your passwords and used them.

  2. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    As far as the turning off/leaving on argument. I think you are wrong in this instance, when you have a live connection to the Internet or other outside agent.

    If you leave you computer on with a live connection, any one at the other end can constantly "wiggle to door knob" to see if the door is locked. So a hacker can test your defenses continuously to find a way in. If you computer is turned off they can't do that.

    This true-ism is true for all computers regardless, Mac, Linux, Unix, BSD, Windows, BEOS etc. etc.

    • Anonymous
      August 24, 2015 at 7:22 am

      When the PC is in sleep mode, as suggested in the article, network connections are usually switched off. Plus, most people are likely to have some kind of firewall and/or NAT included in their router, that reduces the chances of being hacked from the outside.

      So I think hacking risks associated with leaving the PC always on (and sleeping) are very minimal.

  3. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    As to the defrag don't defrag question let me explain how fragmentation occurs. With MS, and MAC files and/or data are written to the first available space on the drive. This can cause bits and pieces of a specific file to be scattered over the disk, defraging brings all the data back together Linux on the other hand writes data in a linear manner so there is no need to defrag. Basically by defraging a drive it becomes more efficient as it does not have to scan the disk to retrieve snippits of the data you are requesting. Also the file system you use will have an impact upon the "speed" of your PC or MAC or Linux. FAT 32 (File Alloxcation Table) was the standard began in 1972 by Microsoft. NTSF (New Technology Files System) is the newer drive format, also introduced by MS in 1993. I personally have been using "Disc Keeper" for several years now, this utility basically prevents fragmentation in real time as data is being written to the drive and thereby eliminating the need to "defrag".

  4. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 9:27 am

    This site looks more and more like " make use of it noob". Macs are still overpriced, but most of the price comes due to shipping and taxes. Building your pc is cheaper because you know you have good top or high shelf products and not the low end of the market that look good. Defragimg a hard drive is good practice, especially if you've turned off sheduled tasks.

    • Jackson Chung
      August 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

      We try to maintain varying levels of complexities in our articles just because our readerbase is so varied. So you might come across "simpler" articles from time to time. We definitely publish more technical stuff as well. Always open to suggestions, so anytime you'd like to learn more about a topic, feel free to email us.

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Hi Eivydas!

      Thanks for the comments. If you have anything in particular you'd like me to write about, shoot me an email. I'm glad to cover more intermediate (or above) topics if there's interest. We're always on the look out for what you guys want to read.

      Okay, on to the comment itself. You mention Macs are overpriced but it's due to shipping and taxes. Can you explain that for me? How would Windows computers be any different here if you're not buying from an offline retailer (which, you can do with Macs too)?

      As far as building a PC, I can't disagree that you can shove a lot of value into a machine if you want to spend the money by building your own. That said, for value PCs, it's definitely cheaper to buy one that is pre-built and on sale somewhere.

      On the defrag topic, can you explain that a bit? Why do you say it's necessary? Everything I've read (recently) seems to side on the "no need to defrag" argument.

  5. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I have to disagree on paid uninstallers. I use RevoUninstaller (which has a free version), and it's got me out of all sorts of problems. Usually an install that went wrong and wouldn't re-install. Also, the amount of entries that some programs put in the registry can be enormous and if those are misplaced: well we all know what messed up registry are like.

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Andy! Thanks for taking the time to comment. As far as the need for an uninstaller, I can understand your problem when it comes to (cleanly) uninstalling problem software. However, did you try the uninstall tool that came with the program, or downloading a special uninstaller from their website? Some companies (like Adobe) make it hard to completely uninstall without use of their uninstall programs.

      I can definitely understand the need for an uninstaller for some programs, but they're often dangerous, and usually unnecessary. I'd always check with the developer or creator of the software first.

      • Anonymous
        August 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm

        Hi Bryan, I wasn't talking about a one off problem, I'm talking about untold problems over the years. Yes, of course I've tried the official uninstallers and when there's a purpose built one available for download, I'll try that. But there have been so many times that the official ones have hung leaving without a key program. Then I resort to Revo. It's usually licensing problems that are the culprit, stuff getting left behind braking the re-installation process. (It also removes the clutter that gets left behind in Program Files and various places.)

  6. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 5:19 am

    When you "you always need an antivirus program" do you include systems running an mobile OS like iOS or Android? For many people their tablets are their computers. I have heard of viruses attacking these systems, but I think that's only systems that have been "jail broken".

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

      It's hard to say when it comes to phones because there is a lot of conflicting information.

      For example: Some studies suggest they are unnecessary, but if you want to find the best Android antivirus app, we've detailed a few in the past.

      It's important to remember that a lot of the problems aren't caused by mobile browsing, but - for instance - app downloads (typically on Android devices), or shady jailbreaking techniques that could inject your device with malware.

  7. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 3:18 am

    "“X” Browser being safer than “Y” browser is a comparison that really doesn’t have much to do with the consumers who use it. Browsers are simply an execution environment for JavaScript, and as such they’re all equally at risk to exploits and attacks."

    Bullshit. You know some browsers have Sandbox environments right? That's a huge difference.

    And the fuck do you mean by "Browsers are simply an execution environment for JavaScript"?
    Do you know that there are browsers that don't use/support JavaScript? And are you saying JS Engines are web browsers?

    Do thorough research before misleading people. Or just don't talk it at all.

  8. Anonymous
    August 21, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Another myth: The post-PC era

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 11:41 am

      Depending on where you are going with this I may agree or disagree with you.

      For your typical consumer, we are indeed in the post-PC era. Tablets are taking over, and laptops will soon be as sparse as desktop computers in the average household.

      That said, we'll never replace desktops, or laptops entirely. There will always be a need for both for the likes of gamers, designers, writers, etc. But, the typical web-browsing consumers is going to grab their phone or their tablet before their laptop.

  9. Anonymous
    August 20, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    On the Mac vs PC question, you did pick two machines that are roughly the same price. But the Windows computer has double the hard drive size, and double the amount of RAM. That sure makes the Mac look overpriced by most people's logic.

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 11:52 am

      That's a fair point, but there are trade-offs on both models. For example, the Macbook has a superior GPU while giving up both RAM and HD space. As a Macbook owner myself, the RAM is rather non-consequential, as quite frankly, the Macbook functions as good or better than Windows computers with less RAM. The HD size is definitely a valid complain though, and it's one that doesn't seem to be based so much on price, but on Apple's shrinking laptop HD sizes across the board in an attempt to compel more people to - for better or worse - use iCloud.

      But I think the key differentiator is in how both units are reviewed. Both on Amazon (see links above) and sites like CNET, the Macbook is a real winner, while the Yoga Pro has rather dud-like rankings. So, if we're being honest, do you want better specs, or the better working machine?

      • Anonymous
        August 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm

        Yes, but the "myth" that was listed in the article was "Macs are better than PCs". And in your comment reply, your point was that the Mac is "the better working machine".

        I don't disagree that Macs are quality computers. I just think they are way overpriced as a result of the Apple marketing that has resulted in their almost cult-like following.

        • Bryan Clark
          August 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

          The Myth was that one is better than the other - "Macs are better than PCs/Macs are overpriced junk"

          I prefer Macs, but I wouldn't go so far as to say they're better than Windows machines as it really depends on the application, your budget and personal preference. Many people are so devoted to one or the other that they can't see the value or innovation that each offers and how that builds to create two great operating systems due to the competition between Apple and Microsoft.

          I don't disagree that they're expensive, but good Windows computers are too.

  10. Anonymous
    August 20, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Linux myths!

    "Linux is only for geeks."
    "Your PC only runs Windows; you have no choice."
    "Linux is free only if your time is worthless."
    "You have to do everything with terminal commands."
    "You have to compile all your programs."
    "It's safer only because it's obscure."
    "There's no applications."
    "There's no drivers."
    "It's too hard to install."
    "80 million users? Impossible."
    "Ubuntu is the only Linux."
    "That won't work on my machine."
    "It's too hard to learn to use."
    "You get what you pay for."

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 11:53 am

      That's a great list. I'm assuming you have been to our Linux section, right? If not, check it out; there's some great stuff over there.

      • Anonymous
        August 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm

        I visit regularly, but it needs to be more prominent so that the curious Windows complainers can get interested.

  11. Anonymous
    August 20, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    drilling holes into a drive won't erase whatever data is on them. it is still recoverable though it is a great deterrent. If you are not NSA or whatever it should be more than enough.. if you do have highly sensitive data on your drive one way to actually make the data unrecoverable is to take out the platters and melt them.

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Good to know, thanks!

  12. Anonymous
    August 20, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Great Article Bryan!
    Although I knew some of this stuff I really enjoyed reading this piece :)
    The metaphore you made comparing "deleted" data to dusty footprints was really good as well.

    • Bryan Clark
      August 21, 2015 at 11:53 am

      Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed.

  13. Anonymous
    August 19, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    There is no doubt OS X is a better operating system than Windows.
    That doesn't mean Windows doesn't have the edge over OS X here and there, but in most aspects OS X is better than Windows.

    It is clear that Apple computers are not overpriced compared with Windows computers.
    If you compare one Apple computer and, let's say a Dell computer having similar quality components, the price difference is about 3%, and it can go each way.

    I did that comparison twice, first in May 2009 when I purchased my first Apple Mac Pro computer for about $3000. A similarly equipped DELL desktop computer was $100 less, which is about 3%.

    I September 2009 after purchasing my first 17" Apple MacBook Pro laptop for about $3000 I compared it to a similarly equipped 17" DELL laptop computer.
    This time the DELL laptop computer was more expensive, by $100, which is 3%, too.

    I chose to compare the Apple hardware to DELL, since I had used DELL computers between 1996 and 2009. I found DELL computers were cheaper than HP, Lenovo etc, but delivered the same level performance with the other brands.

    The truth is that not everyone needs the quality computers Apple delivers.
    Most people who just use computers for emails, social media and other easy staff don't really have to spend the extra money for an Apple computer, unless they want to enjoy the extra user friendliness, stability and the net superior customer service Apple offers.

  14. Anonymous
    August 19, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for the good article. It actually cleared some things up for me :).

    • Anonymous
      August 19, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated!

  15. Anonymous
    August 18, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    * can disable

  16. Anonymous
    August 18, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    "Browsers are simply an execution environment for JavaScript..."

    Really? I disable HTML parsing and CSS? LOL...

    • Anonymous
      August 19, 2015 at 5:22 am

      Web browsers consist of a user interface, layout engine, rendering engine, JavaScript interpreter, UI backend, networking component and data persistence component.

      JavaScript is arguably the most important of these, especially with the demand for cross-browser compatibility amongst users. Plus, with the popularity of Node.js, it's not just used for client-facing elements such as UI anymore, but back-end application as well.

      I was simplifying (hence the word "simply"), but I stand behind the comment.

      • Anonymous
        August 19, 2015 at 5:27 am

        Also, it should be noted that I was speaking on vulnerabilities in browsers and JavaScript is the primary culprit in browser vulnerabilities, so "simply an execution environment" might have been better worded as "they all run JavaScript, so you're equally vulnerable."