Our employees are often asked what are some basic tips to help keep computers running smoothly. To help alleviate these concerns, our Information Technology and Information Security departments teamed up to create ’10 Tips for Basic Computer Maintenance & Security’. These tips can be followed by anybody to help keep their computer well maintained and secure.
Just like getting an oil change for your car, maintaining your computer is crucial to keeping it secure and in good working condition. Good computer maintenance practices will not only make sure your computer is running optimally but will also protect your valuable data from cybersecurity threats. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are 10 Tips for maintaining your computer from our IT and Information Security teams.
Make sure your computer operating system and software is up to date. Most computer operating systems have security measures built in so updates will often include improvements to your computer’s security, as well as bug fixes for your operating system. Staying up to date makes sure that your computer and data are all protected from both cybersecurity threats and system issues.
Keep an eye on your disk space. If your computer’s hard disk becomes full, software will stop working. You can free up space by removing unwanted programs and deleting files you no longer need. If you are using Windows 7, make sure to clean out your temporary files regularly. You can do this by using the Disk Cleanup tool. Make sure the box labeled Temporary Files is checked.
Have a good backup as well as multiple backups! Purchase a couple of external hard drives for backing up your computer. On a Mac, the Time Machine program
will automatically back up your computer so long as the backup drive is plugged in.
You can do the same thing on your PC using Windows Backup. If something happens to your computer, you can use the hard drives to recover your data and even upload the data into a new computer if needed. It also is a good idea to look into cloud backup services. You can never have too many backups.
Make sure where you place your computer (laptop or desktop) has proper ventilation. Cooling is extremely important for the internal components and a clean computer will increase the life expectancy. There is a chance that your computer is very dusty. Cleaning the openings and keyboard with compressed air should free up some of the dust and allow for better cooling. If you are using a desktop you can remove the side of the computer and use compress air to blow out the remaining dust. The computer must be unplugged prior to removing the side and it is advised to take it outside to blow out the dust.
It is very important to have a good antivirus that scans regularly. New viruses are popping up all the time so scanning regularly keeps your computer running properly and its data safe.
Make sure the website you are going to is reliable and be careful when putting in URLs into your browser, especially when shopping online. Missing one character could send you someplace that could compromise your data or to a site with content that is “Not Safe For Work.” Always purchase items at a well-known reputable website. Do not buy items from a company you have never heard of. Identity theft is really high these days and buying something at a place you never heard of could potentially lead to identity theft. Also, when you see a deal on the internet that is too good to be true, it generally is.
We cannot stress the importance of having a secure password. Use strong passwords (10+ characters plus complexity) and don’t reuse them in multiple places. Be sure to change your passwords regularly and keep them in a safe place. For more information on strong password security, check out our article on Password Hacking Methods and the Importance of Password Security.
Use Two-factor authentication where able. Authenticators generate one-time codes that are only available from your registered device. This prevents people who are not you from logging into your account, even if they have your password.
Monitor your financial accounts regularly! If there is a suspicious charge or unknown activity, do not wait to investigate!
Watch out for phishing emails! They come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors! Be mindful of any emails that ask for your credentials, personal information, or to take some sort of action (click here, download this, etc.).