This is the time of year when we decide to make ourselves a few promises. In this technological age, our computers and the data we keep on them are becoming more and more important to us in our daily lives. So it makes sense to review how you use your computer and how you look after it and now is as good a time as any!
Update, Update, Update
The makers of the software you use work very hard to keep it up to date so that you are as
protected as you can be from the latest security threats, it is up to you to make sure that you keep your software updated.
- Windows Update - you can set your computer to automatically download and install updates when they become available. If you don’t like that idea then you can change your settings in the security centre to notify you when updates are available.
- AntiVirus – Your AntiVirus should be set to automatically update, check your settings. If you use a paid for application then check your subscription renewal date too. If you use AVG Free AntiVirus then make sure you have installed version 7.5 as version 7.1 will no longer be supported after 15th January.
- Other Stuff – I’m sure it is a pain going through all your software to check whether updates are needed, SecuniaSoftware Inspector will do that job for you, bookmark that site and run a scan about once a month.
Check Your Security Software
Now would be a good time to review your software, I’ve already mentioned Antivirus, do you have a firewall? Do you have some anti Malware software? Do you have a temp file cleaner? If you want some suggestions then I have some freely available software listed here.
More and more of us are going wireless, which is great!
But, a wireless router is unsecured by default, so please check out your router’s manual and secure that network. If you don’t then your computer is wide open for anyone to get in and have a good rummage about and your bandwidth is open for anyone to steal. There are lots of articles available on this subject here is one to get you started. Top 10 Tips for Wireless Home Network Security by Bradley Mitchell.
Use Strong Passwords
If you have to use a password for something then make it a Strong Password. What’s a Strong Password? Click here
Now would be a good time to get a backup routine started. However careful we are, disasters will happen. Some tips;
- Never store your backups on the same partition as your operating system, even better, invest in a separate hard drive and burn your backups to disk regularly.
- Invest in some good imaging software and take the time to learn how it works, restoring an image after disaster has struck is quick and painless.
- Keep your backups secure, remember, they contain all your information. I wouldn’t recommend that you store them on line.
- If possible, keep more than one backup and store them in different locations.
You wouldn’t run your car without checking it’s oil and water, keeping it clean and sending it for a service now and then would you? The same goes for your computer. Look after your baby, some tips;
- Run a full anti virus and anti malware scan at least once a week, on all your hard drives.
- Run a temp file cleaner once a week, CCleaner is good for this.
- Defragment your hard drives about once a month.
- Uninstall programs that you no longer use
- Clean your hardware about once every six months, if your fans are really clogged up with dust then replace them, I find a can of compressed air, a soft real bristle paintbrush and a vacuum hose (held at a safe distance) ideal for cleaning out the inside of my case, don’t forget your keyboard.
Be careful what you install
We all love a freebie, and there are plenty of useful and safe applications that are available for download out there… there are also quite a few that will give you a nasty surprise!! If you can, then try the software out in a safe environment first, you can get Microsoft’s Virtual PC for free now. At the very least, check out the EULA before you install, if you find that hard going then Javacool has a program that will help you with this called EULAlyzer™. If you do find some free software that you like, then consider donating to the author if you have a few pennies spare at the end of a month.
Be careful where you surf
The internet is a wonderful place, but it is full of dark corners so do watch your step. Ultimately, it is your choice where you go, but McAfee’s Site Advisor, Firetrust’s Sitehound and the MVPS Hosts File will all help to keep you away from the bad guys.
Finally…………. Have a Wonderful New Year!!!