Not My PC
Something that seems to come up over and over again are people misusing their work computers. I have worked at several different places doing computer support and this is a very common theme. People use their work computers for personal use, and install whatever questionable programs. While there is a place for this, it creates a lot of extra work for the technical staff supporting the equipment. So if you find yourself looking at a new program, or just about to download something because someone sent you a link, stop and ask yourself, “Is this work related?”
Installing unsupported software can cause problems to your system and may not integrate well with your existing install. One case in particular of this happened when I used to work at “big blue”. Some staff member had taken their new laptop home and installed the game Doom on it for their child. After a long weekend they called the help desk as their system was freezing up and not working due to the game install. So a lesson learned here is, if you want a computer for your child to play games on, perhaps buy one and not use your work computer.
There are other programs out there, such as Google Sidebar, that seem useful and helpful to a work environment can actually slow your work computer down. Realize that programs such as toolbars and sidebars tend to eat memory. So before installing them on your work computer, ask yourself if it is work related, or even management approved software. If your local help desk has to get involved the first thing they will diagnose will be programs such as this. Even while these may not be the actual problem, it will significantly slow down their ability to diagnose and solve your actual problem.
Some companies in fact have gone to great lengths to install security software on their systems to prevent users from installing software. This takes a lot of extra staff time, and creates a lot of extra work to generally use the computer. So keep this in mind if you are at a company where they are more generous with user privileges. You don’t want to be the one who forces your IT staff to implement this kind of solution.
So the basic rule of thumb here is to make sure not to install personal or questionable software on your computer unless it is work related or approved. If you do want a system to install and use these programs on, consider getting your home computer. Remember your work computer is just that, it is for work. If you do find some software that you like and would want to install on your system, check with your local IT staff first. They will appreciate you working with them, as opposed to cleaning up a mess down the road.