Top 10 Pervasive Tech Myths That Are Only Wasting Your Time

Ever been told that you should fully discharge your battery to prolong its life? Or that jailbreaking your phone is illegal? Or that you should wait for the newest Intel processor because it's going to be "so much faster"? These are tech myths we hear all the time, and likely spread to our friends -- but most are just a waste of your time (and in some cases, they can actually harm your gadgets). Here are some of the worst offenders.

10. Better Hardware Specs = Better Gadgets

If you're waiting to upgrade your gear until the next big processor comes out, or until the latest Android phone with even more RAM appears, you're probably wasting your time. These days, most hardware specs don't even matter that much. Processors have more power than most users will ever need, and phones come out so often that by the time your dream phone comes out, another one will have already been announced. There are exceptions to these rules, of course -- both for computers and smartphones -- but in general, stop crying over your current device and just upgrade. You'll be a lot happier once you do.

9. Lossless Music Sounds Better Than MP3

While bitrate can make a difference in your music, there's a pretty big misconception that as long as you have a good ear, you can hear the difference between lossless files and MP3. It takes a lot more than just careful listening -- you'd need a very fine-tuned ear, some really high-end speakers, and a specific type of music, like classical or jazz. Don't believe me? Take an ABX test with your own music files and find out for yourself. You may be surprised at the results. Of course, that doesn't mean you should junk all those FLAC files -- they're still ideal if you want to convert that music to a new format later on. Image: Tess Watson.

8. Android Task Killers Are Necessary For Good Performance

Not only have we Android users perpetuated this myth, but lots of hardware manufacturers and mobile phone carriers will recommend you use a task killer to lengthen your battery life and speed up your phone. Not only will they do nothing for your battery life, but most are designed to solve problems that don't actually exist (like running out of RAM). If you experience performance boosts with a task killer, it's because you're killing a task that's either gone awry (in which case you're better off just rebooting your phone) or because you've downloaded a poorly written app (in which case you should uninstall it).

Task killers can cause other problems with your phones, and you shouldn't use them unless you're using a very, very old phone with very, very outdated software. Check out our explainer on task killers to learn more, and if you want to speed up your phone, check out these other tried and true methods instead.

7. Jailbreaking Your Phone Is Illegal

The US Copyright office has officially said that jailbreaking is completely legal to do with a device you own, as long as you aren't using it to pirate apps, of course. That said, there are a lot of ways you're probably breaking the law without knowing it, so read up on those if you're curious. But if you were holding back on jailbreaking your phone, now would be a great time to check out all its awesome, legal benefits.

6. Mac Users Don't Need To Worry About Malware

Mac users have often touted their computers as "more secure" than Windows PCs, which is a very hotly-contested issue -- some say OS X's Unix underpinnings make it inherently more secure, while others claim it's only because the Mac isn't a big target for viruses. Either way, it's important to note that while viruses aren't as widespread as they are on Windows, Macs are far from immune -- in fact, we've already seen a few instances of real Mac malware. Don't let your choice of OS obscure the fact that safe browsing and common sense are the best protection against viruses and other malware. After all, just because that email virus didn't infect you doesn't mean you didn't pass it on to your other Windows-using friends.

5. You Should Buy An Extended Warranty For New Gadgets

No matter how careful you are, we've all broken at least one gadget in our lives -- and it may have tempted you to buy an extended warranty the next time. However, extended warranties aren't all they're cracked up to be. Sometimes they only cover half the things that could go wrong, or sometimes the chances of your device failing are just plain slim. Instead, you're better off setting up an extended warranty fund for yourself -- as long as you aren't really clumsy, you'll probably come out ahead in the end.

4. You Should Fully Discharge Your Laptop Battery Every Time

Battery life is always at a premium these days, and you've probably heard a whole host of tricks for keeping your battery in tip top shape. This particular myth -- that you should fully discharge your battery every time you use it -- is left over from old nickel cadmium batteries that suffer from a memory effect no longer present in modern lithium batteries. Today's batteries take less maintenance, but there are still some good ways you can prolong its lifespan, so check out our guide to battery care for more info.

3. Password-Protected Wi-Fi Networks Are Safe From Hackers

So you've heard about how important security is on public Wi-Fi networks, but a lot of people are still misinformed about what really constitutes a public network. Just because your network's protected with a password doesn't mean it's secure. In the case of home networks, it means it's secure from outside hackers, but if you head to a coffee shop or hotel, that network is still public. Anyone with a password can still connect to the network (like other coffee shop patrons) and potentially sniff your traffic.

So, unless you're at home, always protect yourself when connected to Wi-Fi -- you never know who else is connected. Image: °Florian.

2. Peerblock Will Keep You Safe And Anonymous On Bittorrent

A lot of BitTorrent users are looking to cover their tracks these days, and most are doing so by enabling encryption and using something like PeerBlock to keep unwanted eyes from watching their downloads. However, this does not make you anonymous in any way -- encryption only keeps your ISP from throttling you, and PeerBlock is not even close to being foolproof. If you really want to stay anonymous, you have to use a VPN or a proxy service like BTGuard. You can also use a private tracker, which offers other benefits as well, but still isn't quite as secure as other methods.

1. [Insert Tweak Here] Will Speed Up Your Computer

These are some of the worst myths out there. Everyone's always looking for a quick, free way to drastically increase their computer's speed, and a lot of them are loads of baloney. At best, they'll do nothing, and at worst, they can actually degrade performance. If you really want some speed boosts, upgrade your hardware, or at least make sure you're performing regular maintenance. With proper care, you should never need to do a clean install of Windows again.



    Funny enough I read this on LH during the weekend and they still have it listed on their page link below as a header and picture ??????

    9. Lossless Music Sounds Better Than MP3

    With this one I always figured it was a case of "technically there might be a loss in quality but I seriously doubt anyone would notice." Even on a serious system a 320 MP3 sounds fantastic, even if lossless would sound marginally better it's hardly a loss.

      This may be true but with storage cost low, internet speeds and download limits larger why not encode and download in FLAC or lossless and cut out the guesswork? MP3 as a format will become redundant if it has not already.

      Better hardware specs = better gadgets is correct, looking at the iPhone4S as an example of this I guess. It has slower processor than some but can beat some higher spec phones in some benchmarks when looking at OS optimisation is it better.

      Some tweeks do speed up your computer like getting rid of Windows paging file if you have enough RAM. There are more.

    I can definitely head the difference between some mp3's compared to the original CD's. RATM is a good example, when the crash cymbals are hit in most of their songs there is some strange artifacts I can hear after iTunes has MP3-ifies the CD, its faint but you can definitely tell the difference.

      iTunes is well known to do a poor job of encoding. What bit-rate do you use when ripping? A good quality rip at 256kb/s or above should fool the vast majority of listeners in a blind test, even on good equipment. Even when you can hear a difference, you may still not know which is the mp3 and which is the lossless file. Overall, I reckon the quality of the A-D/D-A converters (digital-analogue) will have a much greater effect.

    I Di hear the difference between MP3 and flac but I do have a high end stereo, and once you notice the difference the MP3 always sounds a bit off.

      I have the same problem with Bose loudspeakers. A mate of mine who is an audiophile nut-job pointed out how badly they colour the sound and ever since I can pick Bose speakers instantly and hate listening to them.

        I am a DJ and I play on massive rigs, quite often out in the bush. To say that there is no difference is just idiotic, there is a massive difference.

          A friend of mine once told me that it is possible to hear a cotton ball touching a piece of felt, and since then I can't not hear it. It's so annoying.

          I press buttons to play my bleepbloop over PA systems - totally a controlled listening environment.

    Re: MP3 vs Lossless, there's a point at which the compression no longer drops audible sound information. Whether that's 320kbps or higher for some types of music. What #9 is saying, is that MP3 isn't *inherently* worse. MP3s dont sound bad, just because they're MP3s, they sound bad because a bitrate gets chosen that isn't high enough to capture the content accurately. If the bitrate isn't high enough, artefacting occurs, same as with MPEG video compression. Your audio system, or your alleged hearing ability are irrelevant. With that in mind, there is a break-even point, where an MP3 file's bitrate is so high, that a lossless compression algorithm like FLAC, OGG, or ALAC would give you a better filesize.

      Which is all logical, conforms to known facts and is pretty much self evidently true. But your magical thinkers will still come along and tell you that they can't hear the unicorns any longer even in the high bitrate MP3s. :(

    (Brainfart, I don't know why I put OGG in that list... :-| ...)

    Continually deep cycling your LiIon battery will reduce it's lifespan. Try to charge before 50%

    well admittedly there are plenty of "tweaks" you can do to make your PC faster, issue is people don't know the difference between the right and wrong ones

    also stop downloading stuff by uniblue

      Iobit is about the only company I know of that actually makes useful tweaking software, mainly in the form of gamebooster, but their system maintenance tools are also excellent, even the free versions.

    Myth 10. Better Hardware Specs = Better Gadgets
    But you don't disprove it. If fact you almost "prove" it as you point that people wait for a specific gadget and then moan when its superseded.

      I think the idea is that you shouldn't moan

    Dear Gizmodo-AU author/editor,
    Could you please look into myth #7 (Jailbreaking your iPhone is illegal). The myth-breaking done in this article speaks only to american audiences. I (and I'm sure many others) would like to know if it's technically illegal to jailbreak your iPhone in Australia.

    Encoding at home surely isn't the same as encoding commercially.

    No 3. Really? I was under the impression that with WPA each client had it's own encrypted session, with each packet receiving it's own key regardless of the fact it's sharing one password. This would protect your traffic, so someone tell me how I'm wrong.

    Open networks use no encryption. You can sniff packets at your local McDonalds. Anything not client side encrypted can easily be read.

    Sorry but you're flat-out wrong on 9. It's not surprising. I've actually met people who think the human eye can't differentiate between 15fps, 30fps and 60fps video (it's scary to think just how non-perceptive they must be) so I guess it's to be expected.

    An mp3 encoded at the absolute best quality you can get might trick you, but the average mp3s that people spent years listening to .. I mean honestly, you've only got to listen to what mp3 does to your average hi-hat to know that you're missing out on a lot of information.

    The point you might well be making in this article is that for everyday listening purposes, it might not matter that much, and you'd be right. An mp3 gets the song across decently. But it's absolute bullshit to suggest that you need a finely tuned ear and good speakers to hear the difference.

    I have done a side by side playback for myself and friends. When they listen, they say one side is muffled while the other side is crystal clear. Guess it isn't as hard to tell as they claim. MP3 encoding compresses and cuts frequencies to get smaller files, you loose dynamic response and clarity, things you can hear when played side by side.
    I still listen to MP3s when I am in my car or where I am just using it for background, but I like to sit down and listen to lossless recordings when I have the time.

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