Every year, computers get faster than we thought possible, but they’re also becoming more difficult to manage than when they were expensive and stupid. Just think about how many times you’ve had to help your grandparents with a “computer issue” in the past week.

“No, grandpa, you can’t delete the internet.”

Now that computers are a fixture in every home or office, it’s important you understand some of the basics. Keep in mind, we’re not saying you have to know the routines and subroutines that make up your operating system or the process of creating a new virtual machine -- we’d be out of a job if you knew those things.

But if you truly want to call yourself ‘computer literate,’ you at least need to be proficient in the following things.

Search engines

Believe it or not, typing questions into Google is not the best way to get the information you want -- although it does help you become a viral sensation. To save yourself some time, try typing in keywords for more accurate results. You can also exclude and prioritize certain keywords in your search. For instance, if you want to search for “funny memes” but you’re more of a dog person, you just have to add a (-) minus symbol to the word "cat" and those attention-seeking creatures will be excluded from the search results. You can also do this with business-related searches like, "best SMB email solution -microsoft" (If you're tired of hearing MSPs like us rave about how great Office 365 is).

If you’re looking for a keyword or phrase on a specific website, you can follow this formula: cats site:redkeysolutions.com. Also, don’t be afraid to play around with the search filters in the ‘Tools’ menu underneath the search bar. You can narrow down searches based on the time periods and locations.

Keyboard shortcuts

Seeing someone hunt around their screen for the right button when you know the keyboard shortcut is one of the most painful things to watch as an IT geek. It's not like using your mouse is a security threat, but it's a lot slower and more inefficient than using keyboard shortcuts.

“If only there were some way to use my mouse less…”

Hopefully, you already know the basics like Ctrl-C for copy, Ctrl-V for paste, and Ctrl-Z for undoing tragic mistakes, but there are a few more basic shortcuts everyone should learn.

There’s Alt+Tab for switching between windows, Ctrl-N for opening new windows, Ctrl-T for opening a new tab, Alt+F4 to close a program, and Ctrl+Alt+Delete to close frozen applications or reboot your computer. It may seem like more trouble to learn shortcuts at first, but once you master a handful of them, you'll wonder why you ever used your mouse in the first place.

Backing up

Everyone knows they should back up their files, but it’s always one of those tasks that takes a backseat to Candy Crush and cat videos. However, backing up is a lot easier than it was when you had to store files in tape drives and transport them to an offsite location. Now, we have the cloud.

Cloud backups automatically save your files to an offsite server that’s managed by professionals like us. What’s more, it’s cheaper, easier to use, and can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection, which is miles better than relying on technology used for VHS tapes.

Security practices

With news of ransomware attacks, government-backed hacking, and data breaches that affect hundreds of millions of people, you’re probably well aware that the internet isn’t safe. And if this is news to you, well then welcome to the real world!

“There are bad people in the internet? Hopefully not Steve. He sold me some really great Vibranium."

At the very least, your employees must be wary of clicking links in suspicious emails or transferring files between work and personal computers. And passwords are a whole different mess. If anyone in your company is using passwords based on their birthday or cat’s name, you should probably have a word with them about how to set a strong password.

Updating software and running antivirus scans should also be well within their skillset. But in any case, you should still perform regular security training so they understand that data breaches can be catastrophic for your business.

These basic computer skills should be enough to help your employees survive in the increasingly complex world of IT. If they are still struggling with their tech, however, call Red Key Solutions. We offer expert advice and practical solutions to help your staff stay productive and secure.