Tips for new Internet users

Tips & Hints

So you’re new to the Internet. Here are ten steps to improve your Internet experience and make life more bearable for friends and family.

Posted 12 July 2002

  1. Divert your phone. If you’re on dialup and you only have one phone line, disable call waiting and divert your calls to a mobile. Otherwise, no-one can call you while you’re on the net.

  2. Record your details. Note your account details, e-mail address, username and password. Normally, your computer will save the password for you, but one day you will need it. Keep them safe and guard your password carefully.

  3. Understand your Contract. Some accounts are billed on time, some are billed on downloads. If you exceed the free time or download allowance, you may find yourself with a big bill. Most Internet providers have a usage meter that will give you an idea of how much you’ve used. Be aware the meters aren’t always accurate.

  4. Never respond to spam. You will get junk mail, known as spam, in your e-mail. You should never reply to it or click on any links contained in it. You will only get more. Never, ever try to ask these people to take you off their lists.

  5. Don’t signup for everything. A lot of web pages will offer free memberships and newsletters. By all means sign up for those that interest you, but don’t subscribe to everything that looks vaguely interesting unless you want to be swamped. Read the site carefully and avoid agreeing to have your information shared with the website’s "partners".

  6. Understand attachments. If you send 1500dpi, true colour bitmaps to all your friends you will very quickly lose them. Equally, check before sending an attachment that the recipient can read them. Keep your attachments small and in a format people can read.

  7. Be careful with jokes. What is funny to you and your friends may not be funny to your workmates or family. Think before you press the send button.

  8. Don’t spread rumours and urban myths! You’ll be getting enough junk in your e-mail without perpetrating hoary old legends. If you hear of a computer-eating virus check sites like Urban Myths or Virus Myths before sending out a warning.

  9. Viruses are not a joke or a media beat-up. There are viruses and other nasties waiting for you. Be cautious about files you receive in your e-mail, even from people you know. You must have an up-to-date virus checker and keep your system up with the latest security updates.

  10. Be careful of what you download. Do you really need ten picture viewing programs? If you’re surfing the net and something pops up unexpectedly asking you to install a program be very suspicious. Read everything carefully before agreeing to install something off the net.

Make the net your friend. If you find problems, have an error message, or you’re not sure what you should do, search the net for an answer. Typing some of the words into a search engine will often bring up the answer for you. This is the easiest way to avoid downloading something nasty or falling for an urban myth.

For example, if a web site wants to install Flash support, Japanese text controls and a picture viewer, you could search the web to find out exactly what these are before agreeing to install them. Equally, if someone warns you about a virus, do search for the key words before passing the warning on to everybody you know.

The net is a great resource for finding and exchanging information. Like all walks of life there are traps, rip-offs and crooks looking to exploit the unwary. Be aware of them and it will make your time on the web a lot cheaper and easier.

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