Which tech skills do IT pros recommend that everyone learn? Some may surprise you.
Today is Geek Pride Day, a day to let your nerd flag fly and revel in the techie joys of life. IT pros have the upper hand when it comes to most tech skills, but these days even the least geeky person needs some tech savvy to get along. What knowledge would IT pros recommend to even the most technology challenged?
Our friends at Experts Exchange turned to their community of more than 500,000 IT professionals for their advice. They were asked the question "What's the one technology everyone should learn?" Interestingly enough, trendy concepts like programming, cloud and DevOps are nowhere to be found. Instead, basic computer user survival skills topped the list. Read the most popular responses below, and take some time today to share your geek goodness with the technologically less fortunate.
- How to back up your data: Very few of us aren't digitally creating and storing everything from photos and phone numbers to sensitive records and files, and the simple act of having another copy can prevent data loss spanning from inconvenient to tragic. From an IT perspective, "Knowing how to back up your data can save you time when it comes to disaster recovery," said one respondent. "It also gives the user a peace of mind knowing that their data can be easily restored."
- Microsoft Excel: By the same token, Excel is the default tool for storing all types of data, from household records to your corporate profit-and-loss statements. Being able to navigate a spreadsheet is indispensable.
- How the Internet works, in general: If you're in IT, you probably have a pretty good handle on how the magical connections behind a computer screen are made. Wouldn't it be nice if your friends and relatives had some basic knowledge and could reset their IP address or DHCP server without calling you first?
- Ensuring your operating system and anti-virus software are up to date: "Security is a problem for every technology user," said a survey respondent. "The world as we know it has become more digital and everyone has important information on their computers. Anti-virus software and OS updates are important to making sure your data is secure."
- How to navigate and effectively use multiple platforms: Are you wasting time when you think you're multitasking? "Every day we use our computers to check email, install and run software, and the like," note a respondent. "While seemingly simple, such tasks are so frequent that small inefficiencies add up. A basic understanding of how to accomplish daily tasks across multiple platforms makes you more versatile and less dependent on IT assistance."
- How to use Google: Google has become the first stop of the majority of Internet users. Knowing a few simple search operators and the filters available through Google can help tailor any search and save significant time.
- Basic HTML: "Since so much of our daily lives incorporates browsing the internet, knowing HTML helps you understand what's possible on the web," said one survey respondent. It can also help you have a little more patience when a webpage isn't working quite right.
- How to restart your computer: Your help desk manager is right! "Restarting has the potential of quickly solving a myriad of technical issues, from basic software errors to hardware driver conflicts," explained a respondent.
- Typing: Those old business school skills are even more important today, because so much daily communication is through messaging and screens. But you'll need to adapt the qwerty method to account for multiple devices and keyboard types.
- Computer security: Security breaches are not only a worry for big corporations or top-secret government agencies. Phishing scams, ransomware, and data theft affect unsuspecting individuals every day. "People and organizations often store sensitive information electronically," said one survey respondent. "It is important to know and follow best practices to help keep this information safe."