Computers for Beginners/Keeping your PC running Smoothly

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Do Some Research

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Is that demo looking tempting enough to download? Or how about that brand new piece of hardware? Well before you do, perhaps you should do some research on it first. By doing your research you can avoid future potential problems by at least being aware of bugs, compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities, and undesirable inclusions like spyware & adware.

You can research:

  • Reviews & Ratings
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Release Notes
  • Press Releases
  • Version History
  • System Requirements

Update Everything

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Applications, operating systems, drivers... Nearly everything on your PC can be updated. Updates are often released to remove bugs, fix exploits, improve compatibility, optimize performance, add features, refresh databases, and enhance experiemce.

However you should be aware that some updates are purely optional and may be require certain conditions to be applicable, especially firmware updates.

While you should avoid interrupting software updates, you should never interrupt a firmware update.

You should update your:

  • Anti-Virus
  • Anti-Spyware / Anti-Adware
  • Personal Firewall
  • Operating System
  • Internet Browsers
  • Communications Software (E-Mail, IM, and Chat Clients)
  • Productivity Suites
  • Favorite Applications
  • Device Drivers
  • Firmware

You should run:

  • Anti-Virus scans
  • Disk - defragmentation tool
  • Disk Cleanup wizard

A useful tutorial on a sequence for managing your computer's health is available at [1] under the WORKSHOP NOTES heading Clean your PC

Keep your passwords safe

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Your passwords protect your files, your user accounts, and your online accounts, so don't you think you should protect your password?

General Guidelines:

  • Avoid using personal data as passwords—you shouldn't use your birthday, your national insurance/social security number, or proper names as passwords.
  • Include capital letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • If you can, avoid using any word in the dictionary in your password, or any proper names. Crackers (criminal hackers) have lists of nearly all words in English, as well as other languages, and by using a special program, can test thousands of words per second against your password. Ideally, a password should be at least 8 characters (letters/numbers) long, and contain letters and numbers interspersed throughout its length; for example "9hyl8rn25g"; do not use this example as your password!
  • Use multiple passwords.
  • In general, don't EVER give your password to others, even other family members. There are normally ways they can obtain their own user accounts and passwords. Any person who knows a secret doubles the likelihood that secret will be revealed, at the very least.
  • If someone you don't personally know asks you for your password, including individuals from the "phone company", the "cable company", the "ISP", the "bank", the "police", the "government", from "corporate", from "IT" or "MIS", or any individual purporting to hold a position of authority, generally assume that the request is malicious in nature, unless:

1. They ask you in person—not by phone, by email, or instant messenger; 2. You ask for and they show a tamper-proof photo identification card—merely wearing a uniform is insufficient; 3. You call where they came from, verify that they are actually who they say they are, and verify that in their job, they normally ask people for their passwords.

  • Verify where you enter your password, especially on the Web. There are fake sites that look like real ones which are designed to trick you into giving out your password.
  • When in doubt, change your password.

Keep the system free from all junk files:

  • Remove all the files in the Temp Folder, Temporary Internet files Folder, History Folder and the recent document Folder. you can do this by doing the Disk Cleanup.