|How to's - Carefree Computing
The big bad one. So many programs, web sites and pop-ups cause massive damage. But which one is right? Did you know that some of them actually cause more damage? And so many "neat toys" are just a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Always run an anti-virus program if you access the internet and use email! even more importantly, keep it up-to-date. If it's not up-to-date, it's almost useless. Be really careful before you open email attachments, even from friends. Many viruses send emails using the infected computer's address book. You can get free anti-virus software
Buy a Router
If you have a high speed (broadband) connection to the internet, you should install a firewall. This can help prevent bad programs from getting into your system (such as the attack by the Sasser Worm which didn't even require you to open an email!). A firewall can also put up a barrier against hackers. The firewall can be hardware-based (Such as Linksys routers that we sell and recommend) or software-based (such as Zone Alarm). Zone Alarm is well regarded, and even offers a free version for download Zone Labs.
XP's Built-in Firewall
You can turn on a very basic firewall in Windows XP that will give you minimal protection, although it doesn't come close to the protection of a Router or Zone Alarm (see above). Go to Control Panel/Network Connections and then 'right click' on your Local Connection. Then left click on 'properties'. Three tabs appear at the top of a Network Connections dialog box. Left click 'advanced' and check the box below Internet Connection Firewall that says 'Protect my computer and network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the internet'.
General Tips to Keep You Running
Microsoft Windows Update
Visit the Microsoft Windows Update site regularly to make sure you have installed the latest security update. Go to windows update
Scan Disk and Disk Defragmenter
These should be run at least once a month. You can find these Microsoft utilities under Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools.
Just be aware that if you use a password consisting of a word that exists in the English language (or any other common language for that matter) it can be broken in about 8 seconds using software that runs a 'dictionary attack'. It's much more secure to use a combination of letters and numbers, symbols such as ? or ! and mix upper and lower case letters. A very basic example could be T42&24t (tea for two and two for tea). It just has to be meaningful and easy for you to remember.
Your PC's Recovery CD's
Always keep the CD's that came with your new PC in a safe place. These contain your operating system (often called a 'Recovery CD') and the software 'drivers' for your PC's hardware. If you don’t have them, check if your PC's manufacturer has put these files on a separate partition on your hard drive, where they can be accessed in the event your operating system needs to be reinstalled.
Back-up your data regularly. These are the files you cannot live without, or would have great difficulty replacing. They could include your digital photos, the novel you are in the midst of writing, your MP3 music collection, your web favorites, or your email address book. There are a number of ways to do back-ups. The simplest is to burn the files to CD. Or, alternatively, buy an external hard drive and copy the data over to it regularly. 'Regularly' is the key word here. A back-up that was done 6 months ago is almost certainly too old. If you want to be extra careful protecting your data, make 2 backups and keep one off-site. This may be going a bit far, but only you can decide just how irreplaceable your data is. If you don't know how to back-up, get someone who does know to show you how to do it.
Microsoft Outlook Backup add-in
This utility enables you to backup your Outlook files quickly and to a specific location. This is a brilliant tool and a really important thing to do, if you rely on Outlook. Backup Tool
E-mail and Hoaxes
Don't 'unsubscribe' to junk mail. This just confirms that your address is 'live'. Even just opening junk email can send a message back to confirm that you exist, as it's common for code to be hidden in the email's graphics.
Email hoaxes (e.g. AOL/Intel)
Any time you receive an email purporting to be a way of making easy-money by simply forwarding it on to your friends, don't waste your time and clog up the web - this is a form of spam, designed to work like a chain-mail letter. Check out this web link first to see the most popular hoaxes doing the rounds at the moment: Free Hoax Help