The development that our technology has gone through for the past decades has been extraordinary. Think about a world with bulky computers and no Internet, and you’ll see how easy life is today thanks to these technological advancements. And progress doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, with newer versions and inventions made by the minute.
Because of such a rapidly changing world technology-wise, the average user finds it hard to keep track and know everything about a device, how it works, or how to properly take care of it. And when many people don’t understand something, myths will arise.
There are a lot of technology myths and misconceptions about our everyday gadgets, and we are here to debunk 22 of the most common ones that many people still believe in. Does higher computer RAM really mean faster speed? Does Apple really make their old devices slower to force you to buy new ones? We’ll find out.
Myth #1: You should shut down your computer every night.
For purposes like saving battery power or rebooting, shutting down your computer when not in use definitely has its advantages. But doing so every night is not necessary for protecting the system. Shutting down may even become an annoyance especially if you need to use your computer right away.
Instead of shutting it down, options like sleep or hibernate are great if you want to have your computer resume right away while saving up on power. All that said, how often you shut down your computer depends on your own decisions. Still, a complete rebooting at least once a week is wise to fix any glitches and errors as well as speed up the system a bit.
Myth #2: You cannot get viruses on your Mac.
Virus-free was one of the key points used by Apple during their marketing of the Mac computers in the early 2000s. But this soon changed when a widespread malware infection affected more than half a million Macs in 2012. After that incident, Apple grudgingly admitted that you can get viruses on your Mac computers, but they are still “built to be safe”.
However, it is true that there is less malware in macOS compared to Windows, but not because MacOS has stronger security. It’s because more malware is targeted towards Windows which 91% of desktop users use, compared to just 6% that use macOS.
But to all Mac users out there, the recent interest in Apple products may inspire malware developers to create viruses targeted towards macOS. So, exercise enough precaution just like a PC user does.
Myth #3: The refresh button speeds up your Windows PC.
We’re all a little bit guilty of aggressively hitting the ‘refresh’ and ‘F5’ buttons multiple times in a row when our computer starts lagging or slowing down. We’re here to tell you that the refresh button does nothing to speed up your PC, and it actually has a particularly different purpose.
What the refresh button does is simply update your desktop and desktop icons to any recent changes you might have done. These are things like renaming a folder, or an icon shortcut that you removed. Some of these changes may not appear automatically because of some glitches in the system. This simple task does not speed up your PC whatsoever.
For those of you that have noticed a slight boost in speed after refreshing, it’s more about the time it took to refresh the PC that speeds it up rather than the refresh button itself. The 1 to 2 seconds that it took to press the button is usually enough for the system to fix some of the glitches that contributed to its slowing down.
Myth #4: You always need to “safely remove” external storage.
Ever got scared of corrupting your flash drive after ejecting it from your PC without “safely removing” it? So have a lot of users out there.
What the “Safely remove hardware” button simply does is check that there is no active data being transferred and that all changes have been applied. So, as long as you weren’t actively writing files on your drive when you removed it from the port, you’re in the clear.
Microsoft even confirms that it is perfectly safe and they have installed protections for your USB flash drives and external hard drives as early as Windows 7. In Windows 10, the “quick removal” feature (which is the default setting) lets you yank your drive out of the PC without worrying about data corruption.
Myth #5: Emptying your Recycle Bin permanently deletes data.
When you empty your Recycle Bin, what your computer does is mark those deleted files as deleted, so it can free up space. Those marked files are still in your system and are just waiting to be overwritten with new data.
This is great news for anyone who has accidentally deleted something important that needs to be recovered. There are many free recovery tools you can download that can retrieve your deleted files, so long as they haven’t been overwritten with new data.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of tools out there that permanently deletes your files by both deleting and overwriting the segments.
Myth #6: More RAM means faster computer speed.
Your computer’s Random Access Memory, or RAM, is like temporary storage where your system stores information coming from the software and applications you are using. This makes sure that you can quickly access this information the next time you use that software.
But rather than affecting computer speed, what more RAM means is better multitasking ability for your computer, so it can use more apps simultaneously without affecting speed or performance.
The amount of RAM you need depends on what kind of user you are and the types of software you run. If you frequently use memory-hungry applications like Adobe Photoshop, at least 8GB of RAM is ideal. Otherwise, the 4GB RAM that most computers come with is already enough for the system to run smoothly.
Upgrading your RAM to an amount that you don’t need (like upwards of 8GB if you’re not a gamer) will not result in a noticeable boost in performance.
Mobile phone myths
Myth #7: It is dangerous to leave your phones charging overnight.
Most of the myths about your phone battery are fragments of the nickel-based batteries that were used during the early 90s. This one may have been true before, but it no longer applies to the lithium-ion batteries now used in new smartphones.
Most standard devices are engineered to be smart and know to stop charging when the battery is at 100%. Doing so will make your phone lose around 2 to 3% of battery and the phone will resume charging back to 100. The phone does not charge beyond its capacity or overheat due to overcharging. As long as you are using your trusty charger (related to Myth #10), everything will be just fine.
Myth #8: Only charge your phone when it’s almost dead.
Your phone’s battery does not and should not go to 0 to 100 every time. The lithium-ion batteries found in your phone have a finite number of charge cycles (around 300 to 500 cycles) before you can notice some wear and tear. Draining them often actually hastens these charge cycles, and doing so every day will shorten the lifespan of your batteries.
It is perfectly safe to charge your phone whenever you have the chance. Instead of charging from 0%, charging when you need to is much better for your phone in the long run. A great guideline to follow is to always keep your device with at least 20% battery.
Myth #9: Do not use your phone when it’s plugged in and charging.
This myth is one of the most popular myths about phone charging, and despite being debunked multiple times, it keeps resurfacing. As the myth goes, you should not use your phone when it’s plugged in because it might overheat and explode. One particular case that catapulted this myth back into popularity was the issue of an ‘exploding’ Samsung Galaxy Note 7 back in 2016.
The explosive and burning Note 7 turned out to be a manufacturing problem, not related to charging the phone at all. In reality, mobile devices only have a very small tendency to short out and explode, and this only occurs if you are using a faulty charger or a manufacturing problem.
It is perfectly safe to use the phone while it’s charging. The worst that could happen is the phone heating up a bit more than normal, but this is usually nothing that the phone couldn’t handle.
Myth #10: You should only use the charger provided by your phone manufacturer.
In relation to Myth #9, some people think that using a third-party charger to charge your device might damage the battery or cause the device to explode. While using the charger that came with your phone is the best way to ensure its safe charging, there is nothing wrong with using third-party cables as long as they come from a well-known and trusted manufacturer.
Most of the time that people encounter problems like shorting their phones or, in rare cases, explosions, the culprit was a knockoff charger made from low-quality materials. But you don’t have to worry about any mishappenings as long as you use a charger from a reputable brand.
Myth #11: Closing background apps saves up battery life.
It does seem like a very convenient and convincing way of preserving your battery, but swiping your apps to close them does not do anything good for battery life. In fact, it might even be doing the opposite and helping to drain your phone even faster.
People often misunderstand background apps to still be running and using up your resources. Apps that are set in the background are kept in a state in your RAM that can be easily relaunched, kept dormant until needed for future use. Background apps will only use up resources if there is an active process occurring, like playing music or uploading a file.
Closing your apps actually uses up slightly more battery than keeping them in the background. Force quitting an app uses up power for clearing it and removing it from RAM, and more power still for relaunching it. You’re better off just keeping the apps on the down-low when not in use.
Myth #12: More signal bars mean better service.
Ever wondered why your phone might be experiencing bad cell service even if it displays all those little signal bars at the top? That’s because it indicates signal strength — how strongly you are connected to the network — instead of the quality of available service.
As expected, there are different factors that affect cell service quality, most importantly how many people are connected to the same network. Even if you are at the mall or at a concert stadium where there is a strong signal, service may still be slow because there are a lot of people similarly wanting to connect.
Myth #13: More megapixels means a better camera.
Megapixel count seems to be the gold standard now used in marketing smartphone cameras. Newest versions of mobile phones boast 48MP to 64MP cameras, with Samsung bringing this further by developing a 600-megapixel camera. Big megapixel numbers sure do make a headline, but this doesn’t automatically mean a better camera.
Of course, adding megapixels has great value because it increases the resolution of the photos taken with the camera, allowing better zoom and other neat features. But the number of megapixels should not be the only factor you look at when buying a phone. More importantly, look at sensor quality, lens quality, low-light image quality, and other specs.
Remember, an 8-megapixel camera with a high-quality sensor will take better photos than a 48-megapixel camera with a bad sensor.
Myth #14: Apple intentionally makes their old devices slower to force you to buy newer models.
This one is partially true, and we even have a confession from Apple that proves it. What started out as a Reddit thread of iPhone 6 complainants and an experiment by a tech developer ended with Apple admitting that, yes, they did slow down older iPhone models in the past. But not for the reason that we think.
Apple explains that the slowdown was actually a ‘feature’ and it is done to reduce random shutdown issues found in older iPhone models due to their decreased battery capacity.
Recent iOS updates dynamically manage iPhone’s speed and performance depending on your battery’s life span. The update limits the processor from overworking the battery, thus slowing down the phone. A slow phone is better than a glitchy phone that shuts down, after all.
Myth #15: It is illegal to jailbreak your iPhone and iPad.
Every iPhone user must have heard about jailbreaking at least once from some of their techy friends. Jailbreaking your iPhone (or rooting in the Android sense) is the act of getting root access to your phone’s operating system, breaking free from any software restrictions that Apple has imposed on their products. Jailbreaking is usually done for customizing your device, extending iPhone features, or piracy.
Now, jailbreaking is perfectly legal, but only since 2010 when it was made into an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which addresses copyright issues. However, it is only legal to jailbreak your phone if you’re going to get legally acquired apps like open-source packages.
Still, if you are not an expert, it is generally unwise to jailbreak your iPhone and iPad. Firstly, it means losing the warranty on your iPhone if anything happens after jailbreaking. Secondly, it opens up your phone to a lot of risks like stability issues and looser security measures. This might make your phone a much easier target for cybercriminals.
Myth #16: Facebook uses your phone’s microphone to spy on your conversations.
There have been countless accounts of Facebook users claiming that the app is listening in to their conversations to help target advertisements better. Maybe you’ve even experienced this yourself. Have you ever talked to somebody out loud about your new favorite drink, and with no searching for any keywords, an ad for that very same drink appears on your Facebook feed? That is creepy.
But as a company spokesperson explained, this is simply not true. Facebook uses your profile information and interests to inform the ads that they show on their feed. The only time they can access your microphone is if you give permission for use in making a call or recording a video.
It must be mentioned, however, that Facebook (and the advertisers themselves) does have a lot of data on you for targeting ads, even if they don’t use your microphone. Aside from all the things already found on your profile, they know what websites you visit on the internet, what things you look at and click, what items you almost but did not buy, and so much more.
Myth #17: Using your phone at a gas station can cause a fire.
Ever wondered what those “No cellphones” signs at your gas station actually mean? As the popular myth goes, your phone can be a source of static electricity that might ignite the gas vapors that escape when you’re fuelling the tank.
But as the Petroleum Equipment Institute records, that is not the case. There is no documented incident that a cellphone gave off a static electricity charge and started a fire. While phones are a source of static electricity, the charges released are neither strong nor frequent enough to cause a fire.
Still, the “No cellphones” signs remain but for a completely different purpose. Phones can pose a risk at a gas station by being a major distraction while fuelling.
In countries with self-service gasoline stations, it is very risky because you are dealing with gasoline, a highly combustible substance, your utmost focus is needed to prevent any accidents from happening.
Spilling loads of gasoline just because you were too occupied with calling someone can be potentially dangerous. It is wise to stay focused and aware, so leave any distractions in your car when fuelling, even just for a few minutes.
Myth #18: Excessive cellphone use can cause cancer.
The science behind cancer research is ever-changing and evolving but most of it remains inaccessible to the public. As a result, almost every new thing being developed has at least once been linked to cancer, and that includes mobile phones. And the short answer is, no.
The long answer is, there is no sufficient evidence that shows that cellphones or the electromagnetic waves they emit can increase the risk of cancer. Most of the concern stems from the radiofrequency (RF) waves that phones emit and that we are in constant contact with. However, these RF waves are very weak and do not have enough energy to damage DNA and cause cancer, unlike UV rays or gamma waves.
Myth #19: The Internet is the same as the World Wide Web.
In casual cyberspeak, the Internet and the World Wide Web (or just the Web/WWW) are often used interchangeably, but they are two completely different things. The Internet is the grand network of networks, the big infrastructure that connects all networks to each other, both hardware and software.
If you scroll through the feed on Facebook, send a text via Whatsapp, or type an email, you are using the internet, but not necessarily the WWW.
The World Wide Web is a system of accessing the information found on the Internet. For example, if you are reading this article through your browser, then you are using the internet via the World Wide Web.
Myth #20: A 10Mbps connection means you are browsing at the speed of 10Mbps.
The number you see in the Mbps offered by your internet service provider is not a speed, but a maximum capacity rate. If you subscribe to a 50Mbps plan, this does not mean that it is 10 times faster than a 5Mbps connection. Rather, you can do more things at the same time with a 50Mbps plan without seeing a difference in performance or speed.
While the capacity rate does affect how smooth your program runs, there are several other factors that affect connection speed. This includes the latency of the connection (from your router) or contention delays.
Myth #21: Browsing in incognito mode keeps your Internet activity anonymous.
At least everyone has used the private browsing mode of their browser at least once in their life. Whatever this mode is called, from Incognito to Private Tab, it is a useful tool to have for those times when you want to hide your browsing history off of the computer. However, it must be very clear what the incognito mode actually can and cannot do.
In incognito mode, the browser won’t remember the sites you visited, your search history, or any information that you enter in forms. However, it does not hide your browsing activity from the websites you visit, your school or company network, or your internet service provider.
Incognito mode is not a reason to do anything suspicious or dangerous to your own safety.
Myth #22: You are not a likely target of cybercrime.
On the back of everyone’s minds is the mentality that there are a billion other internet users out there that the possibility that someone hacks into their system is close to zero. Because most cybercrimes are monetary in nature, it makes sense that popular companies and high net-worth individuals are more at risk of an attack compared to an average user.
This may be true, but this doesn’t mean that you are no longer a target. This way of thinking might even make you do unwise and gullible things on the internet, making you a much easier target.
Some cybercrime schemes target multiple users, without regard for net worth and social status. Crimes like phishing attacks, cyberstalking, or online scams target even the most average user and will use whatever information they can get for their benefit.
The internet is a public place, and it is important that we exercise enough precautions when using it just as we would in the real world.
It is difficult to know all of the things about technology that keeps on changing and evolving every day. But we should always be aware and informed so that we can stay safe while enjoying the wonders of technology to the best that we can.
Which of these myths did you believe in at one point or another? What other popular technology myths do you still hear that have already been debunked? Share them with us by commenting down below.