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Make your computer safer, for free

27 Aug

You probably don’t know anything about computer safety, and probably do a lot of stupid things. I’ll help. Unless you have a Mac (Just because most of these safety programs aren’t compatible)

 

So, you’ve got a PC. You want your PC to live as long as possible, right? I’m assuming you don’t want your computer to die in the middle of something important, or get bogged down so slow you just want a new computer, etc. I’ll help you save time and money. You need to protect your computer from software threats like Viruses, Malware, etc. You need to protect your computer from physical threats like massive dust buildup. You need to protect your computer from other people trying to “Break in” to it. You need to protect your computer from yourself, because almost all computer error is done by the person using it. This sounds like a lot to do, and it might sound really complex. So let me make it simple and automate as much as I can for you.

Protecting from Software

This is the easiest, cheapest part, since it’s completely free. First off, unsubscribe from whatever bogus anti-virus program you’re using. There’s better stuff and it’s free. There are all kinds of software that can damage or slow down your computer, so to limit your exposure to this you’ll want to download anti-virus/malware/spyware software. So I’m going to suggest AVG Free (Link Here) and Spybot: Search and Destroy (Link Here) which will cover most of your software vulnerabilities. AVG Free will have an ad, but it’s minimal and not annoying, and is one of the best antivirus programs out there. It will also scan incoming email, and even links (and prevent you from accessing known-bad websites). Spybot S&D is mostly anti-spyware but it will detect all kinds of malware as well. It’s on the advanced side of computer life and acts a lot like Windows’ User Account Control, in that it will pop up and ask for Allow/Deny permission for programs that might try to do something potentially damaging. Just use your brain smarts, if you’re installing a program and it pops up it’s probably for that program and I’d hit allow. But if I just went to a website and it popped up I’d hit deny. Spybot will also apply security fixes to your internet browsers. To automate Spybot, go through the options and make sure “Start with Windows” is selected. Once you download and install those, make sure you have Windows Firewall up and running. Go through your control panel to find it, you need a firewall.

 

Protecting Physical Threats

This is nearly free and time consuming, but you need to do it. Computers build up dust. The more that accumulates, the hotter your system gets (Nevermind clogging up fans and preventing things from working or potentially causing fires). When your system gets hot, it starts to wear down on EVERYTHING. First your computer will begin to slow down, and you’ll probably think it’s something you installed. Then, in severe cases, hardware will start to melt (Slowly) until things just begin to fail. This is extremely relevant with Laptops which breath very poorly (And extremely common in aluminum cased Macs). So here’s what you do. First, get a compressed air duster (Sold at CVS, Rite Aid, Home Depot etc). Then go home and get your computer to an area you don’t care if it gets dirty (Like a garage) or that you don’t mind cleaning (like an empty room or something). Now open up your computer (Usually just by un-screwing thumb screws on one of the sides of the case, and then pulling the side out). Unless you can assemble a computer blindfolded (like I can), I highly suggest you touch nothing. Now take that air duster and blow all that dust out from top to bottom, inside and out. Remove as much as you can just by spraying. NEVER USE STATIC-BASED DUSTERS OR VACUUMS. EVER. YOU WILL DAMAGE COMPONENTS. Once you’ve de-dusted, put the cover back on and plug your computer back in. Now do this every 2-3 months and enjoy solving an issue that 65% of all casual PC owners suffer from intensly.

 

Protecting from other people

This is complex and potentially expensive. If you use wireless, you need to make sure you use a router that can be password protected. If you don’t know how to set it up, then have the place you buy it from do that for you. The only thing you need to do is make sure that the type of passwords the router supports are the same one your laptop supports (Yes, there are type of passwords. Find more here). With a password, you’re now incredibly safe. But there’s the issue of peers connecting to your computer via IP address, which can happen at any moment (Every sixty seconds I get 500-1000 IP addresses attempting to connect with me). This usually just bogs down your connection speed but the people connected to you can build data on you. So here’s what to do: If you use Peer to Peer filesharing (Torrents etc) make sure to use “Private” or “Secure” trackers. Ones that require a login. Another step for advanced users only is to download a peerblocker, something that actively blocks IP addresses connecting to you. This means you have to manually allow access to anything connecting to you, like each videogame and more, and it’s difficult to find the IP address you want to allow. If you’re up for the challenge and learning more I suggest going here. It’s the best way to block IPs.

 

Protecting from yourself

This is fixed when you become more knowledgeable and that’s what I want to do. I could literally compile a list of 100 things the average computer user does that’s incredibly stupid and almost always leads to buying a new computer. Instead, I’m just going to tell you to not be stupid. Advertisements on the internet are usually lies, and usually lead to viruses, especially ones that scream in bright flashing colors “YOUR THE ONE BILLIONTH VISITOR, YOU WIN ONE MILLION NEW IPODS”. Don’t click that shit. Just don’t. Don’t go to websites with weird addresses, like xT3wa.dx/ and watch out for hyperlinks (Like the ones I list above). You can find out where a hyperlink will take you by placing your mouse over it and you’ll see the “destination” at the bottom left of your browser. Look at file extensions, which tells your computer what type of file you have. If you’re on limewire and you just downloaded KATYPERRYNUDEJPG.EXE that “.exe” is the file extension, which tells your computer that this isn’t a picture and is actually a program and it’s probably written to damage your system in one way or another. Not all .exe files are bad, just the ones that try to disguise themselves. Here’s something you can do now to protect your computer from yourself. Run your anti-virus/spyware updates at least bi-weekly (The two programs I had you install above). Run updates for windows at least weekly. These updates will make your computer safer. You should also run “Disk Defrag” and “Disk Cleanup” at least monthly, which cleans up files and makes your computer run much smoother (These links can be found in Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools).

 

Following the above steps will greatly increase the life of your computer. You’ll avoid making mistakes and use better software that will help prevent these mistakes while preventing other people from connecting to you when you don’t want them to. Goodluck!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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