Easy Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Computer

What do you do when your computer is on the blink?  Panic? Press every button in sight? Shut down (and not just your computer)? Scream? Unless you are an expert, maintaining your computer in good health is a joint effort. It involves work on your part as well as support from people with more technical skills than your own, including friends and family members or a professional tech service such as the “Geek Squad.”

Whether you do it yourself or go with a professional tech service, be proactive. Take immediate action if you believe that your computer has been infected. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

How can you keep your computer healthy or at best healthier?

Use hard to guess passwords.
Hard to guess passwords have eight or more characters, and include a mix of numbers, lower case letters, capital letters, and special characters.  Make your password something that you will remember, but one that won’t be associated with you such as your name or birthday. Consider using a sentence that you won’t forget. Example: Ihave2cats!  Avoid using the same password for different accounts.

Use a firewall.
A firewall is the first step in keeping your computer hidden from intruders. Your computer’s firewall is automatically enabled by default.

Use anti-malware software.
To block and remove viruses and spyware from your computer, install and use a reliable anti-malware software. Check with the experts to install the best. Keep your anti-spyware programs updated and scan your computer daily.  In addition, do your best to avoid spyware by not clicking onto suspicious links or popup windows.

Always be suspicious of unexpected e-mail and attachments.
Do not open email attachments you are not expecting, even if they are from someone you know.  Viruses from your friend’s computer can send themselves to you!

Regularly download security updates.
Security updates and patches for your operating system and other software will keep your information hidden from hackers.

Be sure to keep it up-to-date and to scan for viruses daily.

Understand the risks associated with file sharing.
Programs to share music/movies make your computer vulnerable and open to attack!  Be sure to never give access to your computer through file sharing programs.

Backup your important computer files.
Get into the habit of backing up your computer. While there are multiple options, consider using an external hard drive or a flash drive and/or a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Backing up your computer ensures that your files will be available in the event of a hard drive crash or other unexpected event.

Turn off your computer when not in use.
Turning off your computer is the safest thing to do when it is not in use.  It prevents hackers from gaining entry to your computer, it keeps your computer from overheating, and it saves energy to boot!

No matter how careful you are, if you’re online at all, your computer can still be at risk for malware infection and hackers who can access your private data and damage your system hardware and software. The best prevention is to stay vigilant and be prepared to take the appropriately action should your computer become infected.

Key Definitions:

Adware: Spyware used by advertisers and marketers.

Anti-virus software: a software program or set of software programs that are designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses, and other malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, and more.

Computer attack: Any operation executed over the Internet with the intent to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy information on a computer or computer network.

Computer virus: A software program designed to do damage to your computer system.

File attachment: A file that piggybacks on an email message.

Firewall: A piece of software or hardware that acts as a barrier between an individual computer or network and the Internet to prevent unwanted outside access.

Internet: The global system of interconnected computer systems, a network of networks that links billions of computers and connected devices worldwide.

Malware: Short for malicious software, any computer program designed to infiltrate or damage an infected computer. Computer viruses and spyware are the two most common types of malware.

Password: An unspaced sequence of characters used to determine that a computer user requesting access to a computer system is really that particular user.

Spyware: A type of malicious software that installs itself on your computer and surreptitiously sends information about the way you use your PC to a third party.

Source: My Internet for Seniors and Smart Strategies for Successful Living