The world of Information Technology is a very factual place. Whilst your average I.T. professional tends to like facts that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a substantial number of half-truths knocking about that confuse people!
To try and sort the fact from fiction we’ve come up with 10 of the best known I.T. Myths and debunked a few!
Myth Number 1 – “Macs don’t get viruses”
This has NEVER been true.
In fact, the very first widespread virus was the Elk Cloner virus, which actually infected the Apple II before we had PC malware!
So why has this myth prevailed for so long? Well, there are a few reasons.
The Mac operating system is a particularly challenging one to attack as it is based on Unix, one of the oldest and most secure OS’s available.
Fewer people use Macs. Which both makes them a less attractive target and restricts the spread of viruses. It also means that any attacks that do occur are often less widely reported.
If you’ve bought a Mac so you don’t have to worry about security the bad news is that Since around 2012, Macs have seen a huge upswing in all manner of threats – malware (including spyware, keyloggers, backdoors, and more), adware, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).
Malwarebytes Labs reports that, as of early July 2017, there has been an increase of 230% in Mac malware over the last year. Worse, that only tells a small part of the story. Adware and PUPs are increasing at an even higher rate, with even the Mac App Store suffering a tidal wave of scam software.
Back in April McAfee reported a 744% increase in malware for computers running Mac OS.
Macworld also produced a fairly long list of Mac Malware in August of this year.
I think we can safely that this is a myth that’s well and truly busted!
Myth Number 2 – “Common sense is as good as antivirus software”
Common sense is certainly an essential element of your battle with viruses, malware and data privacy compromises.
In fact, many online dangers can be avoided by following a few simple rules. Don’t follow links in spam emails, don’t click on downloads from unknown sources, don’t enter your password unless you’re certain you’re on the right site and make sure you keep up to date with patches for your operating system and applications.
But common sense alone won’t keep you completely safe.
Cybercriminals regularly unearth “exploits” that allow them to sneak their malware onto your system silently. By hacking into respectable servers, they can even turn innocent-looking sites into malware distribution channels. If you’re not running antivirus software that can intercept the malicious code as it arrives on your system, you’re a sitting duck.
Definitely a myth, and a potentially dangerous one at that.
Myth Number 3 – “USB disks must be dismounted before removal”
Views differ slightly on this, however, it is probably best to eject or unmount a USB device before you remove it.
When you dismount the operating system ensures all pending data writing is completed before it gives you the green light to remove the drive. Mac’s OS uses write caching to speed up operations and this means it’s always a good idea to dismount before removing. On Windows write caching is disabled on removable devices, so as long as you’re not actually saving a file at the precise moment you remove the drive then you’re probably safe.
But occasionally Windows might recognise a removable device as not removable – then you might have an issue.
So we would recommend that you do dismount or eject.
Myth confirmed (ish!)
Myth Number 4 – “A £100 cable is better than a £10 cable”
There is no doubt that you want a decent quality, well made and properly shielded cable which will minimise interference and last. But there is absolutely no need to spend hundreds of pounds on either audiovisual or computer cables.
Any differences in sound quality between audio cables is so slight as to be barely perceptible And when it comes to digital cables such as HDMI, don’t be fooled by marketing buzzwords: independent tests prove that there’s no difference whatsoever in signal quality or function between a £10 cable and a “premium” equivalent costing ten times as much.
Myth Number 5 – “A 64-bit Operating System is faster than a 32-bit one”
A 64-bit OS isn’t inherently faster than a 32-bit OS.
If you upgrade an older PC you won’t see any performance boost from the OS alone – but it does enable certain advances that weren’t possible before.
The main advantage is that it allows the OS to recognise more than 4GB of RAM, which can be a huge benefit when running intensive editing applications. It depends on the software too: the real jump in power comes from software designed with this architecture in mind.
Myth busted. It’s about much more than just the OS.
Myth Number 6 – “Adding RAM makes your PC faster”
An upgrade in RAM IS a great way of giving an older PC a performance boost. If you’ve got less than 4GB then you should see an improvement.
Once you go above 4GB though the improvements are much less noticeable and 8GB is likely to be enough for pretty much anyone unless you’re a heavy gamer or working with some heavy graphics.
The type of RAM also makes a difference, as does the motherboard you are plugging it in to. This article gives a good overview of the different types of RAM and whether the introduction of faster RAM rather than just more RAM might be the best investment.
We are not going to say this is a busted myth because older machines WILL see the benefits of the addition of more of the right kind of RAM.
However be careful! You could just be throwing money away.
Myth Number 7 – “More cores means more speed”
Multi-core processors have been around for over a decade. The reason they were developed is that processors were hitting physical limitations in terms of their clock speeds and how effectively they could be cooled and still maintain accuracy. By moving to extra cores on the single processor chip, manufacturers avoided the issues with the clock speeds by effectively multiplying the amount of data that could be handled by the CPU.
Similar to RAM there is a bit more to it that More Cores = More Speed. 8 core processors are not 8 times faster.
Modern PC’s are plenty fast enough to deal with most things. Additional cores might be useful if you are dealing with software that uses a lot of processor power, for example, Photoshop, Solidworks or AutoCAD or if you use a large number of programs all at the same time.
But for most a quad core will do nicely.
It’s another partial myth bust!
Myth Number 8 – “Plugging your phone in every night will kill the battery”
This may have been good advice back in the days of nickel-cadmium batteries, but modern lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries don’t suffer any harm from being left charging for long periods. In fact, Li-ion batteries last longest when you keep them between 40% and 80% charged. Also, if you let Li-ion batteries discharge completely for too long, they can be permanently damaged or become dangerous, so you are better keeping them plugged in than letting them drain completely.
But Li-ions do have one polarising challenge: The batteries have a built-in sensor that tells your gadget how much electricity is left in the battery and, over time, that stops matching up with the battery’s actual charge. To reset it, you have to charge the Li-ion battery to full, let it run down to the point where your gadget gives you a serious battery warning and then charge it back up to full again. However, this only needs to be done every three months or so and for some gadgets, you might not need to do it at all.
Apple used to recommend this process but now says it’s no longer needed. Check your gadget’s manual to see if it has any specific directions.
Myth Number 9 – “Incognito mode makes you anonymous”
Whether it is Incognito on Chrome, Private Browsing on Firefox or InPrivate on Internet Explorer every browser has a mode that helps you erase your tracks online. Your history and cookies will be erased after each session but you shouldn’t be tricked into believing that you’ve become anonymous online.
Whilst these modes might mask your activity on your own PC you can still be logged by your Internet Service Provider, your work network, the actual sites you visit, and the authorities.
If anyone actually still believed this myth, after all when you enter the modes there is a disclaimer stating that the limits of the modes, it is well and truly busted!
Myth Number 10 – “Always shut down your computer at night”
Back when computers were new parts used to wear out much more quickly than they do nowadays. Hard drives especially where not as robust.
So in order to make these components, and ultimately your computer, last longer the advice was to shut the computer down every night.
But things have moved on, components are better built and designed to last, and you can quite safely leave them running with very few problems.
Whether you want to shut down every night comes down to personal preference and overnight can be a great time to schedule updates, backups, and other system tasks so these tasks don’t disrupt your working day.
So, myth busted?
If you leave your machine running then it’s using energy so either turn it off whilst you’re not using it or use a power saving mode or standby.
It’s also worth noting that those all important patches and software updates often don’t install until the computer shuts down and restarts. Finally, if the machine is grinding to a halt then a reboot will often bring it back to normal (there’s a reason we ask you to turn it off and back on again!)
So, myth busted – it’s not going to harm your machine if you leave it on overnight, or even for a few days, but we’d suggest it’s a better idea to power down regularly.