With Thanksgiving and the holidays looming, you might well find yourself called upon to provide some free tech support to your family. Maybe it’s a tradition, or maybe it’ll be the first time. After all, these are usually the occasions where 12 months’ worth of tech problems and concerns get aired. At this point, you probably shouldn’t travel if you can avoid it, so here are some tips you can offer from afar.
These tips represent simple and straightforward security advice that you can pass on to your loved ones, even if it has to be over Zoom. What’s more, following these guidelines should keep your family members safe for the year ahead as well, with minimal involvement from you.
Keep Everything Up-to-Date
You might be surprised at just how many security threats get stopped simply by having up-to-date software on your laptop or phone. While they’re not invulnerable to attacks, most modern-day operating systems, web browsers, and apps are very good at keeping malicious activity at bay.
These days it’s actually pretty hard not to keep operating systems, programs, and other devices up to date. Most of them have auto-updates turned on by default, but it’s worth double-checking with family members to make sure they’re not putting off an update for whatever reason. (A lack of free storage space might be a problem on older devices, or one stalled or failed update may mean no updates since the failed one.)
Make sure that they’re running the latest versions of their software on their devices, and that auto-updates are turned on, and the process should take care of itself in the future. If a relative is using something that’s so old it’s no longer getting updates, you could even treat them to a brand new model to keep them safe.
Show Them Your Work
Even the most tech-savvy of us will often resort to a web search to find the solution to a particular problem—but being able to pick out the right and relevant articles from a long list of search results, adverts, forum posts, and clickbait is a skill in itself.
People in your family can probably search for solutions to problems themselves—what they might be less confident in is interpreting what comes up. You can help by pointing out resources that are actually useful, from Microsoft Support to the official Apple forums.
You could email a list over to anyone who needs it, or even set up bookmarks in someone’s browser if you’re able to—they’ll be able to turn to that email or those bookmarks rather than you the next time something goes wrong. Consider it empowering your family to help themselves when you can’t be there to help them in person.
Manage Passwords Properly
We often discuss the benefits of getting a password manager, and if you can persuade your relatives to sign up for one—and maybe even help them through the initial setup process—then the software will look after them from that point on.