Apr 18 2013

IT Myths that Grind Your Gears

Ever sigh in disbelief at some of the truthiness people buy into in technology? You are not alone.

When Stephen Colbert came up with the term truthiness as part of his hit Daily Show spinoff The Colbert Report, he tapped into humanity’s tendency to take a grain of truth and build a loaf of bread with it.

In 2006, Merriam-Webster honored Colbert’s word by naming it the Word of the Year. It pinpointed the word’s definition as “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”

In IT, there's plenty of truthiness that often goes unchecked.

For example, the idea that wired Internet connections are always faster than wireless connections is ingrained in many people’s minds as fact.

However, Leo Notenboom, an IT expert and a former Micorsofter, debunked this IT myth in a webinar:

It seems like a hardwire connecting to the Internet would be faster and better performance than wireless. Is that true and how much faster? Generally, it's not true and the reason is that the connection you have between your computers is not the choke point for speed.

The place where the speed is most slowed down ... the slowest part of your system (I'll put it that way), the slowest part of your internet connection is between your home and your ISP because that's what you're paying for.

Furthermore, the editors over at ReadWrite found that 4G connections were outperforming their wired connections. So at this point, it’s safe to say that using a wireless connection no longer relegates users to life in the slow lane.

In the spirit of busting these IT old wives’ tales, we asked a few experts for the IT myth that, in the words of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, “grinds their gears.”

IT Myth: Closing Apps Makes Your Computer Run Faster

Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft employee, developer and noted speaker, is sick and tired of people thinking that routinely closing applications is the silver bullet to optimizing device performance.

“I hate the myth that systematically closing applications like apps on your iPhone or full-screen apps on Windows 8 ‘makes it faster.’ It doesn't. A task list of recent apps isn't a list of what's running,” he says.

Similarly, many people mistakenly think the existence of apps on a hard drive means their computers will be slower.

“Things that are installed are different from things that are running currently,” Hanselman notes.

IT Myth: DNS Is Not Important for Virtualized Infrastructures

Rick Vanover, an IT pro with specialization in virtualization, believes that IT workers who neglect the DNS aspect of any virtualization strategy risk failure and frustration.

“The fact is, under the hood the management components of vSphere and Hyper-V use DNS extensively to talk to hosts and management components. This becomes increasingly important if any IP-based storage is in use, such as iSCSI or NFS, that use DNS names,” he says.

For those who might think that DNS’s role will be diminished over time, don’t bet the farm on it. DNS, Vanover says, is in it for the long haul.

“There is no better intercommunication technique that can accommodate changes such as a network change or name change,” he adds.

IT Myth: Big Data Is the Magic Potion of Tech

Like the cloud, Big Data has become an IT buzzword thrown around by futurists as they explain their ideas and dreams for enterprise IT’s future. But sometimes people can interpret these hypothetical scenarios a little too literally and walk away with the misunderstanding that Big Data alone is some kind of cure-all.

Eric D. Brown, an IT consultant and BizTech Must-Read IT Blogger, believes that Big Data requires meaningful action from organizations to be effective.

“Many people are pointing at Big Data as the answer to all things business today. Answers are held in data, but it’s the context around the data and the people using the data that hold the answers,” he says.

IT Myth: Virtualization Is the Same Thing as the Cloud

The cloud is a bit of a Rorschach test in IT. People look at the term and see different things. For users, the cloud means tools and services delivered from the Internet and not the local drive. For IT workers, the NIST definition of cloud computing is probably the most legitimate description of the cloud:

"Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."

Keith Townsend, an IT pro and BizTech Must-Read IT Blogger, points out that simply using a virtualization tool doesn’t mean you're using the cloud.

“Virtualization supports some of the characteristics of the three different [cloud] models," he says. But it doesn't mean they're synonymous.

IT Myth: Mobile Devices Are Less Secure than PCs or Notebooks

Rafal Los, principal for HP’s strategic security services division and a BizTech Must-Read IT Blogger, thinks mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have gotten a bad rap from the security community. HP provides managed mobility solutions as part of its portfolio, and the company has been deeply involved in helping organizations secure workers’ mobility tools.

“One of the more annoying myths that’s making the rounds now is that mobile platforms are somehow less secure than laptops, desktops and other devices. This is simply silly. In fact, in many cases quite the opposite is true,” Los says.

In fact, last year a DailyFinance article proclaimed it’s safer to bank from your smartphone than your PC.

"Because most users always have their phone with them, they can enable banking account alerts that identify fraudulent transactions in nearly real time," said Lamar Bailey, director of security research and development at nCircle.

IT Myth: Sustainability Means Spending More Money

Mark Thiele, founder and president of the Data Center Pulse community and a BizTech Must-Read IT Blogger, believes that too many people mistake sustainability initiatives with purchasing new gear. Oftentimes, the most important element of any IT sustainability effort lies in the planning and strategy.

“Sustainability, as with efforts to improve efficiency, often have a way of bringing new thinking to old problems. These old problems are often assumed to be intractable,” he says.

“The truth is, almost every day someone solves a major ‘intractable’ IT problem, and they often do it because they didn’t know they couldn’t. Building in sustainability and operational efficiency is not only cost-effective, but can often lead to improvements,” Thiele adds.

IT Myth: One Backup Is Enough

While medium- and large-sized enterprises don’t usually rely on one single backup solution without redundancies, many small businesses do. This is especially the case with solopreneurs, like photographers, who in many ways mimic the behavior of consumers.

Terrance Gaines, a digital lifestyle expert and author of the blog BrothaTech, which was named a BizTech Must-Read IT Blog, warns that anyone relying on an external hard drive as a backup strategy could be in for a rude awakening.

“Most consumers assume backing up to an external hard drive is enough. In reality, you should have multiple backups in multiple locations. Additional backup solutions include DVD copies at a trusted friend’s house or regular backups to a cloud storage provider,” he says.

Do you have any IT myths that you’d like to bust? Let us know in the Comments.