Easy Ways to Speed Up A Slow Laptop

As your laptop ages, it can get clogged with unwanted programs and files, reducing its performance to a crawl. Rather than splash out for a brand new laptop, our easy tips will speed up your laptop and give it a new lease of life.

1. Check for viruses

Serious laptop slow-downs can be caused by virus infection or malware.

Make sure real-time protection is switched on in Windows’ built-in anti-virus program Windows Defender.

Run a full scan of your laptop to detect and remove any malware.

2. Delete unused programs

Over time, your laptop may get bogged down by programs you no longer use.

Removing unwanted software will help speed up your laptop. Click ‘Start’ > ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Uninstall a program’.

From the list of programs that appears, click the program you want to remove and then click ‘Uninstall’.

Windows 10 users can uninstall programs from the Start menu by right-clicking the program listed under ‘All apps’ and selecting ‘Uninstall’.

3. Remove temporary files

Temporary files created through everyday computing tasks can clog up your laptop’s hard drive.

Use Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup tool to delete these, freeing up hard disk space and speeding up your laptop.

Click in the Taskbar search box, type disk cleanup and select it from the results. Select the type of files you want to delete and then click ‘OK’ and then click ‘Delete files’.

To free up even more space, click ‘Clean up system files’ too.

4. Add more hard drive storage

Your laptop’s hard drive needs enough free space to work effectively. Once it’s more than 85% full, it will start to perform slowly.

A quick and easy solution is to move some of your files onto an external hard drive. Large files, such as photos, music and video clips, are good files to offload.

5. Stop programs starting automatically

If your laptop takes ages to start up, there may be too many programs trying to launch when you switch it on.

You can stop programs that you don’t need from loading automatically in Windows 10 by right-clicking the Taskbar and selecting ‘Task Manager’. Click ‘More details’ and then select the ‘Startup’ tab.

Here you’ll see a list of programs that load automatically when your laptop boots up, along with the impact this has. Right-click a program and select ‘Disable’ to stop it loading.

6. Add extra memory

Adding extra memory (RAM) will dramatically speed up laptop performance, especially when working with large files or running several programs at once.

Without enough RAM, laptops can slow down when opening or switching between applications.

RAM can be bought in strips that fit into slots inside your laptop, though first you’ll need to know which type is suitable and how much you can add.

There are lots of websites that can help you with this. Crucial.com, for example, can scan your laptop and then tells you the type and amount of RAM that you can add.

7. Install a solid-state drive

Get a major speed boost by swapping your laptop’s old hard drive for a solid-state drive (SSD) instead.

Unlike mechanical hard drives, SSD have no moving parts so deliver a faster performance when accessing or writing files.

As prices for SSDs have fallen in recent years, replacing your old hard drive is a more economical solution than buying a new computer.

Tips to Keep Safe On Public Wi-fi Networks

Free wi-fi is everywhere. From train stations, coffee shops and even supermarkets – the ability to connect your laptop, smartphone and tablet to a free wi-fi network can keep you online while on the go.

But, criminals are on the lookout for the unwary, and connecting to a free public wi-fi network can expose you to scams, hackers and viruses.

Follow our advice to stay safe when connecting to free public wi-fi networks.

1. Use recognized wi-fi networks

Anyone can set up a fake wi-fi network with a convincing name, so ensure you know the actual name of the genuine network you want to connect to. That way, you’ll avoid bogus networks designed to scam you.

2. Be careful what sites visit

Be careful which sites you visit and what data you transmit over public wi-fi.

Avoid using public wi-fi for banking, email, photos or any data sharing, or anything that requires you to enter a password.

3. Always use secure sites

If you do need to login to an online account, always type the URL directly into the web browser address bar and ensure the connection is encrypted.

Look for a padlock in the web browser address bar and a web address beginning with the prefix ‘https’ to be sure.

Use a free web browser extension, such as HTTPS Everywhere, which will direct you to the secure versions of websites (if there is a secure version).

When you’re finished visiting a site that requires your password, remember to log out of your account.

4. Use two-step authentication

Use two-step authentication for logging into your account – as offered by Gmail, Twitter and Facebook.

This typically involves a code sent to your mobile phone that you need to enter to log into the account. That way, even if someone hacks your password, the extra security layer will prevent them from opening your accounts.

5. Don’t download software

As tempting as it is to download applications, avoid doing this on public wi-fi. It’s harder to be sure of the source of the app, which could hide a virus or spyware.

6. Keep up-to-date

Make sure your operating system, web browser and anti-virus programs are up-to-date with the latest versions but only download and install updates when on your home or work network.

7. Turn on your firewall

Make sure your computer’s firewall is turned on to stop hackers connecting to your computer.

To do this in Windows, go to Control Panel > Windows Firewall and in Mac OS X go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy and click the ‘Firewall’ tab.

By default, Windows Firewall hides your computer from others on the same network. Mac users can access this extra protection by clicking ‘Firewall Options’ on the ‘Firewall’ tab and selecting ‘Enable Stealth Mode’.

8. Turn off file sharing

File sharing can leave your computer vulnerable to hackers, so turn this option off before using public wi-fi.

In Windows, go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center, and then click ‘Change Advanced Sharing Settings’. In OS X, open System Preferences > Sharing.

9. Forget this network option

Make use of your laptop or device’s ‘forget this network’ option to stop it from automatically reconnecting to a wi-fi hotspot without your permission.

In Windows, untick the ‘Connect Automatically’ box next to the wi-fi network name. To prevent it happening in the future, click the wi-fi name in the ‘Network and Sharing Centre’, then click ‘Wireless Properties’ and untick ‘Connect automatically when this network is in range’.

On a Mac, go to ‘Network’ in System Preferences and click ‘Advanced’ in the wi-fi section, then untick ‘Remember networks this computer has joined’. For iPhone or iPad, tap ‘Settings’, select ‘Wi-Fi networks’ and click the ‘I’ icon next to the network name and choose ‘Forget this network’.

10. Set up a virtual private network (VPN)

It may sound technical, but it’s possible to create your own private virtual network. Called a VPN, this routes your data through an encrypted private network, keeping your activity and data safe even when using public wi-fi. You can buy VPN services for laptops and mobile devices.

Some Tips for Using Social Media Sites Safely

Keep your personal information safe with our 10 top tips for protecting your privacy on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Social networking sites are great for keeping in touch and making new friends but they’re also boon for criminals looking to harvest personal information and scam victims.

Sharing too much information on a social network may leave you at risk of identity theft – and even home burglary.

Follow our top social networking tips to help safeguard your privacy.

1. Use strong passwords

Use a separate password for each social account.

Make it at least eight digits long and a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

Choose a username that doesn’t help identify you, such as maryjsmith_1961.

2. Use a separate email

Create a separate email account to use with each social network. That way, your main email account is protected from any spam or phishing email you may receive.

3. Don’t get personal

Don’t post personal details, such as your phone number, home address, full name or date of birth. Avoid posting photos of your home that make it easy to identify where you live.

4. Don’t overshare

Never give details of upcoming holidays nor post holiday snaps while you’re away. Criminals scour social networks to find empty houses to burgle.

Some insurers may refuse a claim if you’ve broadcast your vacant home on Facebook or other social accounts.

5. It’s not a popularity contest

Don’t accept every friend or follower request you get – only connect with people you know in real life or whose identity you know is genuine.

Criminals create fake online accounts in order to befriend others and harvest personal information.

Where possible always follow social media accounts that have a white tick in a light blue circle next to their name. This means they are an officially verified account.

6. Make use of privacy settings

Read the site’s privacy policy and use its privacy and security settings to control who can see your personal information. Facebook, for example, offers controls over who can see your basic or full profile, your posts and photos and what appears in your timeline.

7. Control your profile

Don’t make your profile public. Use settings so that only friends can view your full profile.

8. Be wary of links

Avoid clicking on links in messages, tweets, posts, and online advertising. These may be links to viruses or other forms of malicious content.

9. Be careful of third-party apps

Polls, quizzes and games are often a fun part of some social networking websites, but by signing up to these you may be giving the companies who create them permission to access your profile. Use the privacy settings of your social networking website to avoid this.

10. Don’t link accounts

Many websites and apps give you the option to ‘Log in with Facebook’, rather than creating a separate account. But by doing this, your social network may share all the information it holds about you, including the date and place of your birth, your email address and employment details, along with photos.

Furthermore, with just one log-in for multiple sites, if one site is hacked, then all your accounts are compromised too.

Tips to Stay Safe Online

You can do almost anything online nowadays; banking, shopping and communicating is as easy as clicking a button.

But it can be just as easy for cyber criminals to access your personal information – and with disastrous consequences if they do.

Internet security is something we should all take seriously. And a little knowledge is all it takes to stay safe online.

How hackers access your information

Internet hackers can gain access to your personal information in a few ways:

Spam is unsolicited email from an unknown source. Hackers may pose as a legitimate website and ask you for your personal details, commonly known as ‘phishing’.
You might encounter an online store that promises you a product or service but doesn’t deliver.
Hackers may sneak in to your computer in the form of a virus or malware.
Gone phishing

The easiest scams to detect are the phishing scams, where someone sends you an email asking for your personal details, claiming to be from a trusted service.

If this happens, mark it as spam and don’t respond. Legitimate services will never ask for your personal information over email.

Ultimately, the golden rule of internet security is never open an email attachment or click a link to a website from an unknown source.

Online scams

These aren’t as common today as they once were, but still exist.

Someone from an online shop ‘sells’ you something, takes your money and disappears.

Before you purchase anything online, check if:

The web address begins with ‘https’ or ‘shttp’. The S stands for secure and means it’s less likely to be hacked.
They have a verified PayPal account, preferably a business account. If you pay into a personal PayPal account, you might be stranded if the product isn’t delivered.
Credit card payments are made through a verified service. A locked padlock should appear next to the URL (web address) at the top of your browser to show it’s secure.
Virus protection

A virus is a small program designed to harm your computer. It’s spread via email and can do all kinds of damage, like deleting data.

Likewise, malware – or malicious software – can come in the form of a virus or a software application that steals your personal data. This type is called spyware.

The best way to protect your computer is to install antivirus software that includes an anti-malware application.

Free antivirus software is available to download online, but should be regularly updated.

To ensure you have the latest version, choose a program that automatically updates itself.

The perfect password

Our online passwords are often our weakest points. It’s tempting to choose ones that are easy to remember, but they’re also easy for others to uncover and exploit.

To protect yourself from password theft:

Use a different password for every account.
Mix random numbers, letters and special characters (*, ! or ?).
Never enter your password in public where someone can see what you’re typing.
Store your online passwords in a secure, offline location and look them up when you need them.

Your rights online

If the worst happens, remember you do have rights.

Every online service should have a clearly stated Terms and Conditions page that tells you everything you need to know about the company’s returns and refunds policy. Read it.

Credit card theft is rare if you take the proper precautions, but still happens. Fortunately, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 protects you for credit card purchases between £100 and £30,000.

If you feel you need further protection, some credit card providers offer purchase protection programs.

Being vigilant about internet security might seem like a full-time job, but once you know what to look for it becomes second nature.

Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Router

Slow broadband speeds, intermittent service and flaky connections can be immensely frustrating when you’re trying to get online.

Try these tips to fix common router problems and speed up your internet connection.

1. Upgrade your router

Replacing an old router with a newer model will vastly improve your broadband speed, coverage and reliability.

If your internet service provider (ISP) supplied the wireless router, call and ask them for a newer model if available.

Alternatively, buy your own router – look for one with the fastest wi-fi technology, often labelled ‘Wireless n and ac capable’ and with support for dual-band wireless of both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

This allows faster, more reliable connections for newer devices such as Apple iPads and laptops.

For a smaller fix, replace your router’s antenna. A more powerful antenna will have a better range, so it can receive and transmit the wireless signal further around your home.

2. Keep your router on

Don’t turn off your router or unplug it when not in use. Routers need to be on continuously to ensure optimum broadband speeds.

If you switch your router off at night, you may miss out on automatically downloaded firmware updates that boost your router’s speed.

Your ISP may also mistake a switched-off router as a faulty connection and so lower your broadband speed to compensate.

3. Check cables and reboot

Loose cables can cause problems, so ensure your router cables are properly connected.

For a quick fix to a troublesome broadband issue, restart your router. Turn it off, wait at least 30 seconds and then switch it on again.

This resets your broadband connection to the fastest possible speed.

4. Boost your WiFi signal

Make sure that your router is connected to the main telephone socket or cable connection – usually the one closest to where the telephone line or cable enters your home.

This gives the clearest signal, bypassing any old internal phone wires that can slow speeds.

Try fitting a Broadband Accelerator over your main telephone socket. This reduces interference from your home phone wiring, thus boosting broadband speeds.

5. Move your router

Being too far away from your router can cause slow broadband speeds, so try moving your computer closer.

Wireless broadband signals struggle when blocked by thick walls, doors, furniture, mirrors and metal objects, so relocating your router can be an easy fix for slow web surfing.

For the best coverage, place the wireless router somewhere central and ideally high up – on top of a cupboard or bookshelf for example. Keeping it dust-free and well-ventilated helps, too.

6. Change WiFi channels

Interference and digital noise from your neighbour’s WiFi network can cause problems.

During set up, your router automatically chooses a channel frequency to broadcast on. If other routers nearby use the same frequency, things can slow down as interference can degrade the WiFi signal.

Changing the channel that your router uses can help improve its speeds.

Read the router manual or contact your broadband supplier for advice on how to do this. But it’s usually a process of logging onto your wireless router via your web browser, choosing a new channel, and restarting the router.

7. Secure your network

If your wireless network isn’t secured with a password, neighbours and passers-by can tap into your broadband connection to access the internet, without your knowledge.

Not only is this a security risk, it can slow down your broadband speed as other people use up your bandwidth.

Set a strong network password made up of letters, numbers and symbols, and stop your router from broadcasting your wireless network’s name, effectively ‘hiding’ your wireless signal. This deters anyone searching for a network to piggy-back from trying to connect to yours.

Should You Know About Cookies

What are cookies?

Online cookies are unfortunately not of the edible variety. ‘Cookie’ is geek speak for a small snippet of text that a website places in your browser (the application you use to browse the web, like Safari or Internet Explorer) to track what you do when you visit it.

The original term used by computer programmers was ‘fortune cookie’, because a cookie is designed to ‘read your fortune’ by remembering who you are and some basic information about your browsing history.

You probably have dozens, if not hundreds of cookies lurking behind the scenes on your browser.

For example, if you’ve ever had to type a username and password to gain access to a site, you may have noticed that the site somehow remembered your username. That’s a cookie’s work.

If you’ve indulged in a spot of online shopping, when you return to the site at a later date you’ll notice that it has remembered everything about you, including the personal information you’ve shared and the items you’ve purchased or put into a shopping cart. Cookies are responsible for this, too.

Are cookies safe?

If a website’s cookies can remember your personal details, you might wonder what stops an unauthorised site from finding them out as well.

Rest assured, cookies are safe for a variety of reasons:

They’re only available to the website that creates them
Cookies do not give websites access to any information you have not voluntarily given them
Cookies cannot pass viruses (harmful programs) to your computer.
Although cookies are stored discreetly on your browser, you can view them and remove them if you wish to.

On the most popular browsers, you can usually do this in your privacy settings. Otherwise you can check out the ‘Help’ section on your menu or do a Google search for something like: “How to remove cookies on Safari”.

Your browser may even give you the option to not accept cookies. This isn’t generally advised, because cookies are designed to personalise your online experience and some sites don’t function properly if cookies are disabled.

While not quite as tasty as regular cookies, online cookies are nothing to worry about. In fact, they tend to make using the internet easier.

You can delete them if you want to, and nothing will go wrong, but many of the sites you visit regularly won’t remember who you are until you remind them.

Tips to Keep Your Online Passwords Safe

Once upon a time, creating an online password was easy. All you had to do was think of a word that meant something to you – perhaps your pet’s name or your favourite sporting team.

Then word got out that hackers were taking advantage of simple passwords to gain access to private and personal information.

We were told we needed longer passwords with a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols, and that we should never use the same password twice.

How to choose passwords you’ll remember

If you have a good memory, you might be able to remember one or two more complex passwords for accounts you use regularly, but most of us now have multiple accounts that require this security measure.

How can you possibly remember online passwords if they look like S!3x@7yp? Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be quite so complicated.

Experts agree that you should follow three rules when choosing passwords:

Each password should be different.

Passwords should not be related.

Passwords should be difficult for others to guess.
The key is making connections others won’t be likely to guess.

Let’s say you’re trying to think of a password for your Facebook account.

What image comes to mind when you think of the letter F? It could be a favourite thing or an old friend. Who was your best friend when you were a child? “Jeff!” And what year was he born?

If it was 1961, “Jeff!1961!” would be a reasonably secure password you can probably remember and associate with your Facebook account.

If you’re still not satisfied, you can throw in an extra number, symbol or letter. J is the 10th letter of the alphabet, so you might want to use “10eff!1961!” instead.

Storing passwords safely

You’ll probably remember a couple of your most frequently used online passwords, but if your list grows to an unmanageable level, don’t be tempted to jot them down on your phone or computer.

If your computer or mobile device gets hacked, the hacker will have access to all of your online passwords – it’s a recipe for disaster.

The best way to store passwords online is through a secure password manager. Three of the best known password management sites are:

KeePass

Password Safe

RoboForm

RoboForm costs around £7.95 to buy after a 30-day trial, while KeePass and Password Safe are free and open source programs.

On all password managers, you only have to remember one ‘master’ password to gain access to all your online passwords.

Just remember to update it regularly to ensure you’re using the latest security features. (It will probably remind you!)

Online security is an important issue, but don’t let fear stop you from making the most of everything the internet has to offer.

There are no guarantees, of course, but by being clever about your online passwords and using a secure password manager, it’s an issue you shouldn’t have to worry about.

Avoid This Seven Password Mistakes

It seems everything you do online these days requires a password. But watch out – most people give little thought to their passwords, creating short, easy-to-remember passwords that can be defeated by hackers in mere seconds.

It pays to get your password right and create a password that greatly reduces the chance of your online accounts being hacked.

Here are the common mistakes to avoid

1. Personal data

Many people create passwords based on personal information that’s all too easy to find out. Never use a password that includes personal details, such as your birthday, your address or the names of your spouse, pet or children.

2. Common passwords

They may be easy to remember but passwords such as ‘123456’ , ‘abcdefg’, ‘qwerty’, ‘letmein’ and ‘password’ top the list of the most common passwords people use – and are the first passwords even a novice hacker will try.

Don’t grab a dictionary to choose a password either. Hackers can quickly check hundreds of thousands of entries in seconds using software. Choose a complex, random password.

3. Easy to find

Jotting down your password on a post-it note or piece of paper and keeping it next to your computer is a bad idea – it’s like leaving your front door key in the lock.

Choose passwords that are memorable enough that you don’t need to write them down, but if you must, then keep them in a secure location or use a password manager.

4. Too short

The shorter your password, the less secure it is.

Hackers use software to crack passwords and the longer it takes, the more likely they are to give up and move on to easier prey. Each additional character in your password dramatically increases the time it takes to crack. So use a password with at least eight characters, although 12 or 14 characters are better.

Don’t simply add a couple of digits to the end of a password to lengthen it as hackers expect this.

5. Not complex enough

Avoid using passwords containing all letters or all numbers, especially if sequential, such as ‘1234abcd’.

Make sure your password includes both upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols. However, avoid common patterns easily spotted by hackers, such as putting two or four numbers before or after the letters or adding just one symbol, such as ‘!’, at the end of the password.

6. Too old

Using the same password for years can be a mistake as someone may acquire your password and use it to snoop or steal over an extended period of time.

Regularly changing your password prevents this from happening, however creating a strong but memorable password each time can be challenge, so consider using a password manager.

7. One password

Using the same password for multiple accounts poses a security risk. If a hacker cracks your password, he can then access all your other accounts that use that same password.

Always use a unique password for each of your online accounts.

Some Reasons to Get A Twitter Account

In March 2016, Twitter celebrated its tenth birthday, and announced that it had 310 million monthly active users.

If you’re already one of those millions of regular Twitter users, you’re probably not surprised. You’re likely to already be well aware of the lure that keeps you coming back to scroll through the stream of tweets that make up your own personal Twitter timeline.

However, if Twitter has thus far bypassed you, perhaps you’re wondering why it boasts such a long-term appeal to people.

So if you’d like to know exactly what you’re missing, here are five reasons why you should get on Twitter:

Make your opinions heard

I once heard it said that Twitter is like talking to yourself in a crowded room (in fact, I probably read that on a tweet), but sometimes, when you have something to get off your chest, that’s all you need.

I’ve grumbled about the person who nipped into the car parking space I had my eye on, grumbled about my dog pooping in my shoe, grumbled about my long-suffering husband who momentarily ticked me off – and once I’ve got it out my system, I move on.

Of course, you have to be careful what you tweet about – tweet in haste, repent at leisure, as the saying probably doesn’t go.

And sometimes, one of the people who follow me will commiserate, or bestow a ‘Like’ upon my grumpy tweet – and I feel vindicated and validated, and generally much chirpier.

Get speedy customer service

I recently had an issue with some balsamic vinegar going mouldy well before its use-by-date, even though I had stored it at the recommended temperature. In days of yore I would have tutted in annoyance and binned it, writing off the money I’d spent. But I simply took a picture of the mould and the use-by-date and sent it to the supermarket’s Twitter account. Within moments they had responded apologetically and credited my loyalty card account with enough points to buy me a whole new bottle.

I’m sure that had I taken the bottle in to the customer service, they would have done the same thing, but I would have ended up leaving the bottle on the side for a week or two before remembering to actually take it with me on my shopping trip, and it probably would have leaked in the car, and then I would have felt a bit silly asking for £3.50 back.

Conducting the whole thing over Twitter was simple, hassle-free and painless.

And if you are struggling to get a resolution from other avenues of customer service, you’ll find no company wants to publicly let their customers down, so it’s in their interests to sort your issue out as soon as possible when you bring it to a forum as public as Twitter.

Twitter is a funny place to be

The best part about Twitter, I find, is that whenever I check my timeline, I’m bound to see something that at least makes me smile, and often makes me laugh out loud.

That’s because by following the people who I find funny (comedians, actors, friends), I have been exposed to the people who make them laugh too.

When they’ve laughed at a tweet in their own timeline, they retweet it, and it automatically goes into my timeline. I’ve found so many unsung comedians by accident in this manner that my timeline is now packed with hilarious jokes I can dip in and out of whenever I need a lift.

And whilst I don’t for a moment condone ‘joke theft’ – taking a joke made in a tweet and passing it off as your own is looked upon very dimly by the Twitter community – repeating jokes on Twitter has made me seem a bit funnier too. More than once, I’ve found myself saying ‘I saw a very funny tweet today’ and quoting it to friends and family – whilst it’s not my original thought, they haven’t heard it before, and it makes me seem hilarious. Well, I laugh anyway, and isn’t that the most important thing?

And whilst we’re on the subject of making no one but yourself laugh, do you ever find yourself thinking up a very funny joke that no one else gets, simply because they don’t have the same interests as you? If you find yourself saying things like ‘We should call this bus Godot’ and receiving blank looks, turn to Twitter. You might find exactly the audience you’ve been missing all this time.

Have a brush with fame

A few weeks ago I posted a tweet that mentioned a certain well-knownish Hollywood actor by his Twitter name. It was just a silly comment, but a few days later I checked my notifications and saw he had ‘liked’ it, all the way from across the pond.

It’s probably quite sad to admit, but it made my week, and gave me a conversation starter that I would like to say I used for about a week, but in all honesty, I’m still using it to this day.

Another friend, a huge Star Wars fan, mentioned Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, if you’re wondering) in a tweet and got a ‘like’ from the man himself. You haven’t lived until you see a grown man shed a tear over his smartphone; it’s an image that’s difficult to shake.

Watch your favourite TV shows with a commentary

By using an established hashtag like #BritainsGotTalent , #XFactor or #Strictly, you can settle down to watch your favourite show and read the amusing musings of the people you follow as they tweet along in real time, a little like reading a TV review as it happens.

Sometimes actors from the show will live tweet little nuggets of behind-the-scenes information, giving you a whole new level of enjoyment as you watch the scene unfold on screen.

I like this most when I think something to myself, check Twitter and find I’m not alone in my opinion. I still have a little chuckle to myself from time to time when I remember someone I followed on Twitter commenting that X Factor 2012 winner James Arthur’s (overly emotional, I had thought to myself) performances reminded him of ‘that time on Corrie when Deidre went bonkers on the cobbles’ (I’m paraphrasing, as years of repeating that little gem in conversations has left me with a somewhat garbled version, but you get the gist).

Tips to Tackle Internet Trolls

From name-calling and ridicule to abuse and torment, internet trolls can make life miserable for online users. Here’s our guide to tackling trolls.

What is an internet troll?

Similar to their fairytale counterparts, internet trolls are nasty pieces of work.

An internet troll is someone who deliberately provokes others online by posting offensive or inflammatory comments, or taunting others. In essence, they’re online bullies who operate under a cloak of anonymity to cajole, threaten and abuse others.

Trolls can be found everywhere online – from community forums, blogs, websites and social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Cybercriminals even mimic trolling by posting controversial content with links that contain malware.

However, it’s worth remembering that not everyone who shares a negative opinion or replies to something you post is a troll, so consider their motivation before taking action.

How to deal with internet trolls

1. Don’t respond

Trolls are looking for a reaction Their aim is to upset and provoke you into making an angry or emotional response.

You can’t prevent a troll from targeting you but you can decide how to react. So, don’t respond – you’ll never win an argument with a troll because they’re not interested in reason or fairness.

By not taking the bait to respond, trolls usually give up and go away.

2. Tell someone

If you’re being bullied online or receiving abusive comments, don’t keep it a secret.

Speak to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend, who can help and support you.

3. Record and save

If someone makes an offensive post, take a screenshot of it or print it so that you can share it later with others if necessary.

4. Report trolls

Ask for the website moderator, administrator or owner to intervene if the troll doesn’t stop.

Most websites and social networks have strong anti-abuse policies and, in most cases, trolls are guilty of violating a website’s terms and conditions so will have their accounts terminated.

In extreme cases, such as posting racial abuse or inciting violence, trolls are committing a criminal offence and the police may decide to take action.

Reporting social media trolls

In social media sites such as Facebook, you can report abusive posts by using the ‘Report’ link that appears near the content itself.

For example, to report an abusive post on Facebook, click the down arrow at the top-right of the post and select I don’t want to see this. Click ‘Why don’t you want to see this?’ Choose the option that best describes the issue and follow the on-screen instructions.

Block social media trolls

You don’t have to put up with the antics of trolls. It’s OK to block people whose behaviour offends or makes you feel uncomfortable.

Blocking someone on most social media sites is easy. In Twitter, go to the troll’s profile, click the gear icon that says ‘More user actions’ when you hover over it, then select ‘Block’ and click ‘Block’ again to confirm.

In Facebook, you can block a person by clicking the down arrow at the top right of any Facebook page. From the drop down menu click ‘How do I stop someone from bothering me?’ Enter the name of the person you want to block, select them from the list that appears and click ‘Block’.