Self-Help

As we progress through the start of the 21st century, life seems to get more and more complicated, with computers and assorted technology remaining at the top of the “gutta know-how” list.  The average person doesn’t have the time or desire to read PC-Magazine or related materials, but still would like to know how to keep their computer running well.  This page is dedicated to keeping you informed of the things you really need to know about.  Please feel free to ask any questions.  Who knows?  Maybe someone else has the same questions you have!  I’ll do the best I can to give you an informed answer and/or opinion.

REGULAR COMPUTER MAINTENANCE

INTRODUCTION:
I’m sure you are all familiar with computer viruses and the havoc they can bring to your personal computer!  What many people are unaware of is that viruses are only a small portion of what can actually harm your computer.  All you know is that your computer is acting weird or working very slowly.  Without going into all the disgusting details, suffice it to say that there are 4 invaders that can hurt your computer: viruses, worms, trojuns and bots.  Each of these operate in a slightly different manner but are all grouped into one large category known as malware.   Although viruses have the reputation for being the worst, any of the four can cause major issues with your computer.
Fortunately, as the capabilities of malware has increased with time, so has the technology that is integrated into your computer.  Presuming you are using a computer that is running a version of Windows, more and more malware protection software is being built into the computer to begin with.  Any computer running Windows 7 or newer will have a very high level of malware protection already built into it called Windows Defender.  In fact, I have not purchased antivirus for my last 2 computers and have never had a problem with either one of them in 5 years.  This doesn’t mean that antivirus programs are useless, only that they are over-rated (spelled “marketing”) and only fix part of the problem.  (check out my Helpful Links page for some cool free stuff)

PROTECTION AND REMOVAL:

The best program that you can have to protect your computer (in my opinion) is called Spybot Search & Destroy.  Spybot has several ways that it works: 1) it removes current malware from your computer, 2) it keeps additional malware from getting on the computer in the first place, and 3) it monitors your system in live-time and alerts you if any risks are detected.  I have included a link on my Helpful Links page to download the program which is completely free.  If you have any question on installing and getting Spybot up and running, just message me and I’ll step you through the process.

PREVENTION:
Of course, the best way to keep your computer running in tip top shape is to keep problems from getting on it in the first place by knowing when your computer is at risk for infection.  Ninety-nine percent of the time malware is installed on your computer because of something the operator has done.  Let’s face it!  Computers do not have the ability to control themselves (at least not yet anyway); so anything that is on your computer is there because someone put it there or allowed it to be put there.
Malware producers are successful primarily because they prey on the curiosity of people.  This curiosity causes people to click on links or go to websites that they are curious about, but have no idea what it is doing to their computer as a result.  The primary carriers of malware is online gambling, pornography and emails.  If you struggle with the first two, keeping your computer running smoothly and quickly is the least of your concerns.  Opening infected emails is the primary cause of computer problems in the computers I see.  Because of this (and you can ask any of the people who’s computer I maintain) I am an absolute communist when it comes to forwarded emails.  I have literally moved people that I know to my junk list because I received forwarded messages from them.  I simply cannot allow my information and data to be put at risk, regardless of the good intentions of the sender.
Since emails carry a high risk of infection, I recommend using a secondary email program that allows you to view the content of the email without actually opening it.  Online email services (such as Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) do not allow you to do this.  You actually have to click on the email to view its contents.  Nobody likes to pay for email these days, including myself, which is where programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Windows Mail, and others come into play.  These programs allow you to pull emails from online servers and view them in the email program.  I use Gmail personally, but use Outlook as my email program.  Yahoo (which I absolutely HATE) does not allow you to remotely access your account unless you are willing to pay them a monthly fee.  SERIOUSLY?!?!?  So, when it comes to email and links on websites, just remember DON’T CLICK!!  Honestly, unless you know exactly what you are looking at, do not click on it.  Don’t click on the picture.  Don’t click on the words.  Don’t click on the video.  Don’t click on ANYTHING!  Click on the link below for some helpful tips on avoiding malware.
See what I mean?  You have no idea what a link will do, install or change on your computer.  Only clicking on links that you know and trust is the biggest single thing you can do to keep your computer running fast and problem free for many years!  Any comments or questions please let me know and I will expand this area as much as I need to.

PERSONAL COMPUTER TECH SUPPORT

If you need assistance in cleaning up a problem or would like to learn more about how to protect yourself or your business in the first place just let me know.  This is what we do at Downeast IT.
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