Good computing at home carries over to your business or workplace. Many people take their working computer for granted until it no longer turns on or displays messages of a virus or trojan. People should be prepared for the worst when it comes to their home computers, especially those who use their computers for business or share a network at home.
Anti-Virus Software and Security Updates
Infecting others with spyware or viruses is common in home networks. Everyone should have a good anti-virus software program running at all times on their computer and update it regularly. AVG free is a free program that may help keep viruses away. Find it at free.avg.com.
I learned my lesson recently when I did not update some software on my computer, leaving it open to an attack. I update my anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, of course, but a Java update caused the chaos, which ended with me reformatting my computer. It seems that everyone is prone to attacks.
If you are running a Windows operating system, keep your computer up-to-date by opening Internet Explorer, and selecting “Tools” -> “Windows Update.”
Utilities You Should Know
Windows comes with several utilities that are helpful in keeping your computer running smoothly. Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup should be run routinely. These are found under “Programs” -> “Accessories” -> “System Tools.” You can even schedule these to run automatically at a convenient time under “Scheduled Tasks.”
More importantly, back up your data. Again, under “System Tools” is a back-up program built into Windows XP. You can run this at a convenient time when your computer is not in use. An external back-up drive is a safe place to store your data. There are also online storage companies that will store your files securely for a small monthly fee.
The Internet is one of the most giving places on earth. Users can download many helpful applications for free! There are literally thousands of free software programs, but be cautious when downloading and installing. A few of my favorites are:
- ScreenHunter. Wisdom-Soft provides a free version which will allow you to capture pictures on your screen and save them as jpg or bmp files. This is great for people who want to email or save low-resolution files quickly and easily. Obviously, you want to use common sense with regards to copyright images (wisdom-soft.com).
- Google Pack. Simply select the Google programs you want, and Google Pack will install them on your computer. My favorites are Picasa, Google Earth and Spyware Doctor (pack.google.com).
- Open Office. A completely free program which allows you to view, edit and create Microsoft Office files such as PowerPoint, Word and Excel (openoffice.org).
All users have a variety of ways to learn new software, computer tips or “how-tos” on the Internet.
Webinars are like seminars, but over the Internet. It is a great way for people with a visual learning style to participate in educational presentations or meetings. Webinars typically have limited audience interaction, but some can integrate polling, question-and-answer sessions, and even audio technology, enabling true audience participation. Searching Google or YouTube can help you find good learning tools for your computer questions.
Your computer can be a valuable learning or communication tool—or it can just be a fun way to play games or pass time. Regardless of your user level or type of usage, keeping your computer clean and safe of infections will help keep your programs running efficiently. iBi