Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly

Here are a few tips, after all everyone wants a reliable computer.

Computer Maintenance Checklist 

 Desktops and Laptops need maintenance to run smoothly for the long haul. When you first got your new computer home and it was running like clockwork, the thought of computer maintenance checklist never enters our thoughts.  The thrill of the new machine is exciting, but unfortunately, after a few weeks of use it becomes slower due to the buildup of data.  After all everyone wants a reliable computer running smoothly.  Desktops and Laptops need maintenance to run smoothly for the long haul. When you first got your new computer home and it was running like clockwork, the thought of computer maintenance checklist never enters our thoughts.  The thrill of the new machine is exciting, but unfortunately, after a few weeks of use it becomes slower due to the buildup of data.  After all everyone wants a reliable computer running smoothly.   When you first get your computer it is running, well "like new". Computer maintenance & tuning never enters our thoughts.  The thrill of the new machine is exciting, but unfortunately, after a few weeks of use, it becomes slower. Desktops and laptops need maintenance to continue running smoothly. 

  • UPDATES, Updates, updates! Whether it is the operating system (Windows Update) or your applications, updates are released regularly for correction of security/safety issues or general "bug" fixes. Free update checkers for third party software can provide assistance to sort through what you have installed and what needs updating. File Hippo Update Checker & Secunia Personal Software Inspector are good examples.
  • Unwanted Software & "Bloatware". Computers use both operating systems and software applications. Too often, we install several programs which set-up preferences to run in the background or which become the default application for a particular file type. Typically printers, scanners, smartphones & music players all come with their specific media software. Plus computer manufacturers can add their maintenance & support software to an already crowded Notification Tray. Consider uninstalling or disabling software which is redundant or unnecessary.
  • Registry Checkers & Cleaners. Plenty of changes take place within a computer and lots of little things going wrong do add up to slow speeds and more serious issues. Several registry checking and cleaning programs are available to clean up areas where the operating systems stores all its settings. One free application with several handy tools is CCleaner.
  • Antivirus. Every computer needs some degree of safety protection, Today, viruses have been replaced by an entire spectrum of malware including viruses, trojans, worms, clickware, etc. Regardless of how they are classified, computers are safer with a real-time scanner watching the user's behavior and what is attempting to come in through the network connection. Have installed a leading name product from a respectable vendor... Often the entire "security suite" is unnecessary, unless there is adequate cause for parental control and the other features. Check for recent signature updates and run a full scan regularly. Microsoft Security Essentials is a great free option for Windows systems.
  • Firewalls. Today, computers have the ability to block network traffic for either inbound or outbound traffic types. Having a network shield up to protect your computer from unwanted probes or control is highly recommended, Often the default operating system firewall is adequate when used properly.

Personal Safety

A few tips go a long ways when giving advice... Generally, the Internet is a very alluring space, but often with hidden dangers. Care should be taken to teach users what is safe and what deserves great caution.

  • Be Suspicious. Not everything on the Internet is what it appears to be. Cyber threats are not just a concern for multinational corporations or the government & military. Loss of personal information and access to one's personal banking can be lost through recklessly clicking on SPAM e-mails and bogus web sites. Do not click on any links in an e-mail you absolutely do not trust and when your browser responds to a redirection, be very cautious of sites which just don't seem right.
  • Freeware & Games. The expression no free lunch is worth repeating. Often free means the software comes pre-packaged with adware, spyware or marketing software which gets installed as well as the free game or cute application which caught your eye. It is better to steer clear of this software and the sites which promote them.
  •  Dangerous Web Sites. Avoid web sites which offer cracked software, free music or pornography. Chances are there are reasons why this bait hides the dangers within.
  • Attention SmartPhone & Tablet Users! While Location and Notification Services are part of the features, a word of caution is worthwhile. Location Services can tell you the local news and weather, but can also announce where you are to potential home burglars or stalkers. Notification Services can simply draw down your battery power by repeatedly checking for updates. Consider how you are using these features each time you add an application and press "Allow".
    Campus Computing & Networking is here to help students, faculty & staff. But, eventually everybody is on their own when it comes to managing personal computing devices.
    CC&N hopes that Rio Grande community will learn to implement these steps and practice these and other Safe Computing Tips.