The Internet is littered with tips and tricks on how to keep your rig safe from certain calamities, so with all the information that's out there, why then are PC repair shops busier than ever fixing busted systems? Maybe the answer lies in how the information is presented. We don't claim to be experts in psychology, but just from our own personal observations, it would seem that people are contrary by nature. Telling a child not to touch an object is a surefire way of making sure it will soon have their fingerprints all over it, and in that same vein, perhaps instructing PC users how to avoid falling prey to common computing pitfalls has the exact opposite effect we're shooting for.
To put our theory to the test, we're posting this guide that doesn't tell you how to surf safely or otherwise keep your PC in pristine shape, but outlines exactly what you should do if you want to push your system to the brink of failure, and beyond. Let the fun begin.
Backing up your files will ensure that your data remains intact, even if your primary storage medium doesn't, but you'll never hear a self-made millionaire tell you the road to success is traveled by playing it safe. What exactly does that have to do with data backups? Probably nothing, but consider this. Who's really benefiting from your backup schemes? Software vendors, for one. Acronis, Symantec, and every other company which sells backup software stands to gain from your paranoia, and so do hard drive makers.
The bottom line is this - don't waste your time backing up your data. In fact, we recommend going with a 4-disk RAID 0 array for awesome performance, made even more thrilling by the fact that you're a single hard drive failure away from bringing down your entire array and sending your precious photos, home videos, work documents, and other data to the digital graveyard. Talk about a ticking time bomb!
Probably the most overlooked component in most builds -- especially by those new to the DIY scene -- is the power supply. Underestimating the importance of a quality PSU is deadly if you want to play it safe, but if you're looking to play Russian Roulette with your PC, go ahead and invest in a generic unit. Sure, it's only a matter of time before your bargain-basement, no-name PSU goes belly up, and if you're lucky, it won't take any other components down with it. But in the short term, you'll save a few bucks, which is the direct result of shoddy workmanship, sub-par materials, and shortcuts in the construction of your PSU. The only time you need to invest in a quality, name-brand unit is when you want the thing to actually work.
Momma didn't raise no fool, and if you're following the other tips in this guide, you'd be foolish to spend even more money protecting your PC from things like power spikes, brownouts, and other electrical shenanigans. After all, if you're not even bothering to backup your 4-way RAID 0 array and can't be convinced to spend more than $25 on a PSU, then what's the point in shelling out three times as much on a battery backup with a built-in surge suppressor? Save you're money, you're going to need it when a lightening strike knocks your PC out of commission.
A good antivirus program will keep your system safe from both known and unknown viruses, and will even stave off spyware, drive by downloads, and other forms of malware. And with a little bit of research, you can put up a wall of protection without spending a dime. But here's the rub. If you never subject your PC to poisonous files, then how will you ever know what to do in an emergency, like when Aunt Mabel wants you to take a look at her computer and fix whatever it is that's causing browser redirects and other performance hampering behavior? The only way to stay on top of your malware removal game is to make sure you're constantly under attack, and the best way to do that is to ditch your AV software and surf recklessly across the web. You'll thank (or curse) us later.
Probably the single quickest way to destroy your PC is to let other, less tech savvy users run amok on your system. You could create multiple accounts for different users and impose restrictions on each one, but that's only helpful if you want to keep your system up and running. If you want to euthanize your rig, let your roommate or a child go click-crazy across all corners of the web, who will be sure to install every toolbar, screensaver, and casual game they encounter. Keep your Windows disc handy.