Tips for healthy computing

By Shanitra X | Last updated: Jan 27, 2008 - 12:02:00 PM

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( - You just unpacked your shiny new computer system, set up your high speed Internet service, and installed the latest and greatest software, but what now? Most experience a reduction in computer performance over time primarily due to a lack of maintenance, neglect and poor computer protection. Here are a few tips to keep your system just as clean and healthy as when you first bought it.

Protect your computer from viruses

Computer viruses, computer worms and Trojan horses are malicious computer programs that are designed to copy and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. These programs also known as malware can cause disruption to the operation and function of your computer and can range from simple annoyances such as pop-ups to major problems such as causing your computer to reboot, data hijacking or hard drive failure. The number, types and effects of malware increase daily, so protection from these programs is essential. And, as is the case with human health, prevention is the best cure.

How can you avoid problems? If you are running a Windows operating system, install (at minimum) windows critical updates. Most viruses attack a weakness or “holes” in the Windows operating system. After weaknesses are discovered, Microsoft issues a patch to close it. To install these patches, start Internet Explorer and click on Tools/ Windows Updates. Additionally, you may want to set your computer to install these updates automatically (see your computer manual, Microsoft help menu or visit Microsoft’s’ website).

Although peer-to-peer network sharing is extremely popular these days, avoid downloading from an unknown source. I suggest downloading shared files to an old machine. Scan them and then transfer to your computer system.

Purchase and install reliable Internet Security software. There are good free programs available, but most often than not they remain nearly incomprehensive. You may end up running three different programs which taxes your processing power. This program should comprehensively protect you from viruses, adware, spyware, malware, intrusion, phishing, and include a built in firewall. This helps you to avoid software conflicts. Be sure that it includes automatic definition updates for the life of the software license. Be careful of the websites you visit. Certain types of websites are known sources for infection.

Your passwords are the keys to your computers heart and soul so guard them with care.

Perform a comprehensive backup of your computer system daily. It is a good practice to schedule an automatic backup image of your system. There are advanced programs to do this for you, but you can use the backup feature built into your windows operating system. Look in the “All Programs /Accessories” menu and start the backup wizard. You can set this function to run while you sleep and save to an external hard drive-In doing this, if your computer ever becomes infected, all you have to do is restore the uninfected backup.

For the advanced users, try to use a router with a built-in firewall or request that your Internet Service Provider give you a router with firewall protection.

Protect Your Computer from External Forces

I have replaced many power supplies and other internal components due to sudden power surges, dust, moisture, etc. These problems can be minimized by observing the following:

Plug your peripherals into a surge protector, preferably one with voltage regulation, and not directly into an outlet.

Keep your computer out of moist and dusty environments and as far away from the floor or carpet as possible. Consider purchasing a computer filter and remember a computer is not a coaster. In general, it is best to keep the area surrounding a computer clean and reasonably humid, but not moist. A humid environment avoids static, which can also be very detrimental to any electronic component.