Some of us consider ourselves technological novices. Others are the go-to IT consultants for friends and family when something breaks or isn’t working properly, even if that’s not their actual career. No matter how our technological know-how stacks up, we all have to be techies in 2020. After all, we use a myriad of devices every day, from mobile phones to smart speakers.
That also means that when it comes to technology, we need to know what’s what. There are plenty of myths floating around the zeitgeist, and it’s time to debunk them once and for all.
Bars on your phone indicate better service
A whopping five bars on your cell? That means great service, right? Well, not necessarily. The bars are a measure of signal strength, not service quality. If there are many other people using the signal from the nearest cell tower, you may still experience poor service, including slower connection speeds for calling, texting, and using apps.
Empty the trash on your laptop, and you’ll delete your files permanently
When you empty your trash or recycling bill, that doesn’t mean you’re deleting the files stored in it forever. You’re just freeing up space on the hard drive. For nonsensitive documents and information, that’s probably not a problem, but if you actually need to delete something permanently, on a Mac, choose “Secure Empty Trash” from the Finder menu in a Finder window. You can also hold down the command key while clicking the Trash to see this option appear. On a PC, you’ll need to use a third-party tool like Eraser.
You shouldn’t charge your phone until the battery is almost dead
The lithium-ion batteries current phones use won’t be harmed if they’re charged while you still have a fair amount of battery left. In fact, it’s probably ideal to prevent it from reaching 0% and start charging it around the 40% mark. That’s because batteries can only be charged a certain number of times before their ability to hold a charge lowers substantially, so you won’t have to wait a full cycle.
Macs don’t get viruses
Although Apple used to claim that its computers didn’t get the viruses PCs are susceptible to, that’s just not true. Apple computers can be infected with malware, including Trojan horses, just like PCs. There are many suggestions as to why Macs may have experienced fewer attacks, such as the fact that there are simply more PCs and attackers want to reach a higher number of systems, but it’s a myth to say they’re immune from attacks completely.
Shutting down your computer every night conserves power
Older computers used a significant amount of energy when they were left on, but today’s laptops use a fairly minimal amount in comparison. That means that you won’t be conserving much energy by shutting it down every night. Plus, it can be a huge inconvenience to have to start it up again every day. If you put it to sleep or hibernate it instead, you’ll be saving power while still preserving your open windows.
Incognito mode means anonymous
There are some reasons to use incognito mode — your activity won’t appear in your history, which is a plus if you don’t want other people using your device to see what you’ve been doing. It’s also helpful for getting better deals on flights and other services. However, your ISP will still be visible to the sites and pages you visit, which means your identity is trackable.
More megapixels mean better quality pictures
Newer cameras boast more megapixels, which do offer greater detail in big pictures. But it’s not actually necessary to have an 18-megapixel camera — an 8-megapixel one will probably offer photos of great quality, too. In fact, the more pixels the device has, the smaller those pixels will be, which could interfere with the overall quality. You should focus not just on the number of pixels but also on the size of the camera’s sensor, which influences the detail of your pictures, too.
A magnet can erase your computer
The computers of yesterday may have been susceptible to the strength of a common refrigerator magnet, but today’s hard drives are much more resilient. It would take in an incredibly strong magnet to wipe your computer, the kind most people don’t have lying around. Does that mean you should experiment? Probably not, but don’t be worried if that free magnet that came with your food delivery gets too close to your laptop.
These are just a few of the common tech myths society believes. Unfortunately, as technology gets more sophisticated, it becomes the subject of more and more misinformation, often starting with a grain of truth. It’s important to educate and inform yourself before making any life-altering technological purchases or decisions. After all, you don’t want to be running to your IT manager in a tailspin every time you delete a recoverable file or visit a page you shouldn’t have in incognito mode.