Basics in computer security is no longer basics, really. It is not the average computer user’s fault, either. So much like how auto mechanics became technicians with computerized analyzers to diagnose and locate computerized engine operation flaws, so has the use of computer technicians to maintain security and operation of professional networks. It is now the same for those who are personal computer users. Most of them have no real idea of how complex it has become.
This article addresses a number of basic applications that can help the average user in layman’s terms, instead of, in many cases, become dependent on outside computer repair firms to charge for services every time a computer is sluggish or has, in fact, ‘crashed’. From personal and professional experiences, I am astonished at how many times people ‘shell out’ hundreds of dollars for repairs of their devices that can be avoided, or even be repaired by the owners. Although, this has become a ‘throw-away’ economy, the idea of buying a new desktop computer system, laptop, tablet, notebook, or smart phone every year or so, is definitely a ridiculous waste of money. Especially, when it comes to the latest versions of hardware? No way! It’s the software to know. This includes the latest Wi-Fi technology, as well. We will delve into all this because I believe you should all be aware of the constant changes without it robbing your savings.
Before I go any further, I want it to be quite clear this is not an attack on any computer repair firm or IT (Information Technology) agency. If I were in that arena with my own company I’d be charging for services rendered, myself. This is simply being written to help those, who in many cases, cannot afford to pay for such services. Almost all the companies I have encountered or have had interaction are honest and do care about their customers. For you, the user, must take some time to do a little homework and online research to potentially save a lot of money.
I have coined a formal terminology statement that covers what IT professionals and computer repair specialists all endure in common – It is always too late, nothing works, and why haven’t you fixed it, yet! I won’t get into the IDdoubleT aspect of computer technology, but it sure does apply that it is always user error. Computers are not that smart, well, not yet. After having experience in such server and computer applications and maintenance over the years, as well as, spending hundreds of hours in study to apply what I have learned, family and friends came out of the woodwork for help. As I gave assistance, where I could, I did. Well, until it got to the point where I was spending too much of my time fixing computers and not being able to continue some of my projects. I love helping people, but I had to manage my time better. It worked. Recently, a very good friend, Larry Hollenbeck, who was appreciative, commented that I should write an article about it. Now, I do hope I’m helping more people to understand that it is not only their fault in not understanding what it happening, they should be able to just turn on their computers to enjoy without fearing something will go wrong. It infuriates me to no end that a computer user can just buy the ‘canned’ package so they can enjoy the experience without some training in basics is offered. Well, that won’t happen, here. So, basics in computer understanding is paramount for even the novice to know. To the novice, here, please, do not continue this article unless you are serious in wanting to learn more. It will help, I assure you. I understand the first part of learning something new in computers is getting over the fear of thinking you are going to break something. It is more difficult to do than you think. The main part of the learning process is to be patient. Do not hurry through the process. Take your time. Once you get past the initial part of the learning process, it gets much easier over time. You will constantly look back and think to yourself: Why didn’t I get that? Wow, look what I know now I didn’t a year ago? This is exciting! It will make sense after a while.
From experience and for the record, I am not an Apple, Macintosh, or iPhone guy. I never have been. I’m not a graphics enthusiast and that is that. As Apple products developed, all I heard was how they couldn’t get viruses and were completely secure. I always rebuffed these individuals about being so confident. Your days were coming, and, now they have. With internal encryption being a mainstay of device security, hackers learned how to actually use Microsoft security technology to break into Mac computers and other devices. It hasn’t stopped. So, if you are using Macs and other Apple devices, this is not an article for you, except for Apple compatible software I mention here. Sorry to say, Mac issues continue while Microsoft and other companies have been beating back the present demons, including Intel and Advance Micro Devices memory chip vulnerabilities. I waited to finish this article until the latest ransomware, Meltdown, and Spectre issues blew over. In fact, I just finished updating one of my computers that is solid state with a 32 GB SSHD. The hard drive is fixed and not up-gradable. Man, I won’t get one of those again, no matter how expensive the computer might be. I fixed it with 64 GB USB (Universal Serial Bus) addition to a 3.0 port. Of course, these devices are now married forever, but, I must say that the latest feature and cumulative Microsoft updates are certainly impressive, faster, and smarter than ever.
Okay, let’s get started. Please, I am doing the best to keep it on task, as it is truly complex. However, I see some points to share that I believe will help many of you. Remember, these are only the basics these days. Oh, man, could I ever go onward to share more, but by then, you would have left the building like Elvis. The following is what follows after you have purchased your device, whatever it may be. By the way, frankly, when it comes to smart phones, I prefer retro. The dumber the phone, the happier you will be over time. I imagine you get it by now I am a desktop and laptop person, because of my projects. I also like getting away from the Internet, sometimes. No one is completely off the grid anymore, unless one lives in the wild, completely devoid of any devices, electricity, and phone communication. I see the horror of those who are chained to their tablets, notebooks, and smart phones without a break…oh, the horror of it all…
Please note: This article is directed to users who are already acquainted with some of the tools and basic computer operations, i.e. downloading, uploading, control panel, updating, disk cleanup, optimization, and defragmentation, to name a few. If you are just a novice and are uncertain of what to do with what is written here, I highly recommend you seek out a certified computer repair individual or company to help you maintain a healthy and fast-running computer. I am repeating myself on purpose so as not to confuse those who would have issues to learn, here.
The following simple (hopefully) format should help one focus to keep a computer running smoothly with little or no cost over time. If followed and maintained in a timely fashion there is no reason why standard HD (Hard Drive) or SSHD (Solid State Hard Drive) computers cannot last the user 10 or more years. Note: Outside of providing site links to click, this is an overview of what to do, otherwise, you would be reading a manual of operations. Also, please, if you do not feel confident in doing this yourself, do utilize outside computer repair firms. By and large they are all quite reputable and you can shop around these days. Their reasonable charges can save you hundreds of dollars (or more) over time. Do ask if it is better to buy or repair.
This just came to my attention and is worthy of mention, here. It is new and was created to check the health of your hard drive. I recommend the standard, free download.
It is called Crystal Disk Info and is almost automatic to use. This is particularly important to use for those who have older devices. It checks all drives and it is fast! If you see a caution or other warning, you may want to back up and replace your hard drive. Depending on the environment and how much you keep the dust away from electronic components (also, don’t bang on your hard drive unless you are ready to replace it now, lol) a standard SATA hard drive can easily last from 8 to 15 years. Solid state hard drives are still quite new so the longevity varies. More to come, there.
Setting up your computer for ample security protection:
Basics in security is just that. What you need to set up your new computer is not difficult to do yourself. Many people find themselves unable to pay for every service and I recommend that you don’t need to do so. Believe me, all computer manufacturers, software creators, and peripheral companies want the best security for all customers. The alternative is when the consumer’s computers encounter slowdowns or component failures, it is the manufacturer who bears the brunt of complaints, even when it is not their faults. They know full well the Internet and other online applications are beset with scammers, spammers, hackers, and constant phishing attempts. These bad apples can affect a myriad of devices in the market place including not only computers, but printers, phones, and any devices that utilize some form of communication to operate. So, here are the basics (continued below) you need to install or activate on all your devices; antivirus, anti-malware, ransomware, privacy, and setup wizards available in the device package.
What best antivirus protection to use that is free:
There are many antivirus companies that provide fine products to install. The downside is some of these firms use rather invasive tactics to influence you to install free trials that result in you being drawn in to pay for their products. Therefore, I am mentioning here what I have found to be the least invasive, easiest to use, and ones that provide adequate, overall security from threats. First, all Windows-based computers come with the Microsoft package called Defender. While it has improved, it is still too passive a product to use by itself. Hackers know this and can get around it. Since anyone who uses the Internet must pay for an ISP (Internet Service Provider), ask them what antivirus services they provide. It is almost always a free part of their service. One example is the ISP I use; Comcast.
They provide Norton 360 Internet Security. It is comprehensive in nature and is adequate to install and make the primary source of antivirus protection. But, it is not free to the public so let’s look at what is if your ISP doesn’t provide a package deal that gives you the basics with adequate protection. PC Mag is always a good, consistent source of free antivirus lists; however, these lists do vary each year, as mentioned in the next section in more detail. Topping the list this year is Avast (has made huge improvements and is quite comprehensive), AVG (always good), Bitdefender, Zone Alarm, and Kaspersky. There are more free products available, but these are the five I recommend. Note that these are the basics in protection, yet all of them and more provide adequate protection or they wouldn’t be in the market long. The downside of Avast and AVG is they can be quite invasive and will try to lure you in to pay in the future. Be careful and only select the free service. Avoid the free-trial versions or you may best need to go to the Control Panel to uninstall the product, then reinstall it. If you must uninstall be sure to uninstall it completely or the software will leave a trail to know where and who you are, lol. If you are informed you will be issued the ‘full’ version and be charged for it, contact them immediately to be credited! Finally, be sure you check your firewall settings that the installation is properly protecting you. In sum here, if you don’t want to mess with all this stuff, then it is perfectly okay to let Microsoft rule the day. Each and every antivirus basics software protect you from many viruses, but not all.
In this case, once in a while, it won’t hurt to use this bad boy, Hitman Pro. It is made by Sophos, Ltd. and it an excellent tool to use in addition to your standard product. Sophos has free antivirus, as well as, paid. Just remember, once you have flushed out the malware, only continue to keep downloaded one antivirus software, except for one I have found; Malwarebytes. There is a free and paid version. I have spoken with some principles there and this product is awesome! It is designed to be used with other antivirus products without compromising protection. At the very least, install Malwarebytes free, the basics will always be your friend. It catches almost all viruses, but the free version is limited and will not provide real-time protection. You have to run it manually. You also have to update it yourself. They are not invasive and are happy if you are using their basics for protection. In the paid section below, I will mention more of how this product can save your bacon, in the long-run.
What best antivirus protection to use that is paid:
Okay, now, if you want the best protection, you must be willing to pay for it. Remember, this part is not concerning the basics; it concerns PC Magazine lists what they consider to be the best overall antivirus firms. These are McAfee, Norton, Bitdefender, Webroot, and Kaspersky. These are only some of the best, but I recommend these. Bear in mind, the ratings from various reports such as Consumer Reports and others are all over the place. Year-to-year, these antivirus security companies battle for innovations to make their products the best. So, I’ll cut to the chase. Get McAfee or Norton. They provide the best overall protection for a reasonable price. Don’t forget to shop for bargains with them, too. It is out there. Also, to all my international friends, be sure you click on a link pointing to your country and/or region. The links I provide are primarily for the United States market.
Now, as mentioned above, I will say that Malwarebytes gets my nod to have if you use more than one device in your home. These include computers, tablets, and smart phones. Malwarebytes has a reasonable package that can be installed into up to three devices for a yearly charge. If you get an ongoing subscription you can get a discount. This real-time protection catches all sorts of bad guys, like hacker, ransomeware, phishing, crypto-currency site, scamming, spamming and most all other attacks. I have consulted other IT tech gurus and we agree they catch over 95% of all viruses. So, be sure to get your best choice in antivirus software, shop around, but do get Malwarebytes. This, in my humble opinion, and from technical experience, is your best path to take.
What is the best anti-spam and anti-adware to use that is free:
There are two of them. First and foremost, install CCleaner Free! It is the best on the market for removing adware and spam from your computer. I recommend you start your computer session with a CCleaner scan. You can set its settings any way you wish; however, the free version is best in the basics of cleanup. CCleaner got in trouble with its original name, Crap Cleaner, although, this denotation was most accurate. Here is why. The moment you turn on your computer and it is connected to the Internet, it accumulates garbage. Why some people became so enamored with ‘crap’ is beyond comprehension, but there you are. Bottom line is CCleaner is awesome! If you surf incessantly, I recommend buying this product. I do not. It is your choice.
The other excellent free anti-spam and anti-adware product is SUPERAntiSpyware. It is easy to install and works well. I recommend that during a pause in your computer session, run this with Malwarebytes for a great reality check. Don’t worry when you see constant sessions that say you have no problems. This is a good thing. However, if you don’t keep up the scanning, you will encounter many more problems in the future. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here are a couple more tools that can make your life more pleasant and it, too, is free. It is called Spybot. There is a more recent program created by Safer-Networking to provide even more privacy from outside influences, including Microsoft (advertising is in there, too, believe me). It is called Anti-Beacon. It blocks many Microsoft applications in Windows 10, including Bing search engine. You can make your own selections of what to block. However, if you are not familiar or want to work with Anti-Beacon, Spybot 2 will work fine. It is not an automatic program in the free version so you must update it every week or so to have it be effective. Honestly, in all the years I’ve used Spybot, it has only caught malware intrusions once. That doesn’t mean the software is ineffective, it means the user has done a good job of scanning. Spybot provides services other programs do not, such as immunization from some malware not seen by other programs. It seems I am providing you with an arsenal of protection? Yes, I am. It is nice to sleep at night knowing your computer is okay, lol. I search with Google and for me, it does exactly what I want it to do. Bing is more social in nature and you can rack up points to use; however, for the more research-related searches with more reach and search strength, I prefer Google. It is up to you to play with these programs to find what you like best. I only use Anti-Beacon because of simplicity and computer speed, not so much privacy.
Two-step authentication, what is it and when to use it:
Use two-step, two-factor, or any form of extra security measures you can install, immediately! Some of the most notable security measures have fallen prey to hackers over time. In short, here, I say utilize whatever extra security measures possible. Now, as far as mobile devices are concerned, utilize four-digit logins. All others have been hacked, sometimes. Four number encryption, including doubling the login is best.
What best login to use for a tablet and smart phone:
Same as above. Stay with the simple four-number login sequence, even when it asks you twice. Keep basic Lookout and free Malwarebytes apps on the ready and don’t forget to update them regularly. Lookout is great at real-time scans. Use it.
What is the password dilemma:
Here, I am only going to say, from experience, I have fallen prey to the hackers, over 10 years, figuring out my lack of keeping new passwords current. I am going to leave it up to you on being creative with your new passwords. Wherever, you enter them into a new or older site, group, or personal email, you cannot go wrong by making it as multi-encrypted, as possible. Just use a combination of characters, numbers, and/or special characters where accepted by the provider. Here is a hint: Use something you know by heart, yet no one else would. DO NOT EVER GIVE ANYONE your password. Period. Whatever kind of password you want to install is good, as long as you remember it. Some sites are rightfully becoming reticent to allowing mistakes. This means if you don’t remember your password, you cannot log into the site. If you cannot remember it, write it down into a safe place.
How does one maintain the computer for optimal long-term use:
Here, I quite simply say, be nice to your hard drive and hardware system. I have made old-style hard drives last over 12 years with no issues. Just keep your computer optimized, protected from current surges, and protected from dust, especially! Laptops, tablets, and smart phones aside, the desktop is the most reliable, flexible, and useful tool, over time. If you don’t keep it clean, it will leave you.
Keep your electrical connections clean and always use a certified surge protector. If you want to have backup, then you can invest in a battery backup. I do not recommend this for the user in basics. This is more utilized in extensive use, overall.
What is the truth about a throwaway economy when it comes to purchasing personal computers, tablets, notebooks, and smart phones:
It is your call. We have been beset with the concept and application of if it is broke, throw it away and get another one. I did not come from that generation. We could fix stuff. Now, it is pretty much impossible, because this is no longer a mechanical application. In computers, it ended in the 1960’s. In the basics of computers, it is a ‘canned’ universe and it is getting more this way, as was when radios went from vacuum bulbs to solid state electronics. Rest assured, there is nothing one can do about this advance in technology. Embrace it and move on. However, again, I admonish you, there is much you can do to keep your device working properly if you follow these prescriptions.
What is the ‘dark web’, malware web links, false emails and what does it really mean for you:
I get so tired of these inane marketing techniques. Frankly, do you really think you are living in a private environment? Really? Yes, I have had my previous passwords compromised. So have you. Take the time to update and use every form of password protection possible. You will be fine. Beware of the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Today’s Internet companies are making me SMH. 😉 The hacks and cracks have already occurred and the best you can do now is not hide under a rock, just use every form of security available and don’t use personal information in an insecure environment. Yes, there are some phishing schemes out there that can fool the best IT personnel. Make sure you study and create the strongest passwords possible. This doesn’t mean you need to change your email address because at some point, it will happen again if you don’t ramp up security measures.
The basics here is to keep sensitive information off the Web and do not answer any phones or emails of which you are not sure of the origin. I cannot mention it enough, here. First, just hover your mouse over any email name that looks like it’s legit, but something isn’t ‘not quite right’. Do not click on it. You will see a different email from the one you expected. Send it directly to the spam file and delete it! Do some homework on how to get pointers to protect yourselves. Second, use antivirus software to protect you when surfing web links. Unless you get a green light from Norton web protection, McAfee or some other software, you will find yourself with malware on your device. More now than ever, malware is being installed on the innocent web link pages offered by Google, Explorer (Bing), Yahoo, and other browsers. Third, hackers are using code to make slight changes to URL’s (Uniform Resource Locator) to make you think it is your bank, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, or some other legitimate company. It’s content in the body of the email has improved and that is not good news. Check your URL history of the institution or organization you frequent against the URL you see in your browser. Sorry to say, you now have to perform all these tasks. Failure to do so places you in the same category with over 90% of other computers infected. We are now finding in other family members ransomware, malware, worms, and Trojans by inspecting source coding. This is not basics for most users. Just be very careful. For me to continue onward past basics in research I might as well write a book. I apologize for even this much information, overall. Please, do keep it simple, take your time and follow the basics offered herein. It should help so many of you avoid some pitfalls requiring scans and system repairs. Now, if you do get malware of any form, the most common thing you will notice is (this is where the antivirus software failed to block in time) the device will not run properly, as well as, run much slower. In the case of browser hijackers you will be directed to an unknown browser where they can grab information from your device, as well as, use it as a conduit to send more malware to all your friends, etc. In some cases, your computer can be used without your knowledge, at all. This is when I highly recommend you seek professional help to clean your device, if it has not been ‘bricked’ by now.
How does one gain protection when browsing the Internet:
In short, use a verified antivirus plugin, i.e. Norton Safe Search I use with Comcast. Whether you use other ISP entities, do your homework before you click on links. Nowadays, many of the first ones you see on browser searches are fake. And, sorry to say, they contain malware. Now, you know how, outside of email, how you got your malware. Use safe search like Norton. It is one of the best. McAfee, Kaspersky, AVG, Avast, and others are all good. Just do something to protect yourself, or the next time you click in Bing, Google, or whatever, you will get tagged with malware. I further recommend you utilize antivirus web surf protection that will put a green check mark (or something similar) to indicate the web link is valid and secure. Believe me, when you open your browser tab to search for an organization, especially one that is quite popular, all sorts of links will show up. If they are not verified as safe from your antivirus program, chances are it is malware just waiting for you little mouse click. Please remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One may think it is a bit cumbersome to take all these measures; however, the alternatives are not good, ever. Finally, if you are not absolutely sure of what you are about to click or select, don’t do it. Also, I want to stress more than ever: No longer are computers supposed to be left on all the time. This is old school thought. All computers leak memory when on. I don’t even like the sleep mode. When you are not using your computer for an extended period of time, i.e. overnight, turn it off. This also protects your device from outside hacker attempts. This holds true for all devices, desktops, laptops, tablets, notebooks, and smart phones!
How does one protect themselves from spamming, phishing, and scamming:
In short, DO NOT click on emails or other forms of online that you do not know. Hint: Take your mouse and hover over the email title. If it is not anyone you know, delete it immediately! Almost without exception, you will see a variation of the URL that doesn’t make sense, like an extra character, a set of numbers, or some word that doesn’t fit. Usually, any use of English that indicates improper grammar is a good indication it is a fake URL.
How does one utilize more free tools to prevent hackers and scammers from compromising your computer:
As above, just download verifiable and reputable antivirus, malware, adware, and other sites, as noted above.
What tools are available to protect you from phone hacks and scams:
Here are some more basics to protect you from hackers. My smart phone covers the basics in hacker protection with Lookout and Malwarebytes. Most windows-based phones have the app installed by default. I recommend utilizing this antivirus and anti-malware protection. It is free and it does a good job, overall.
My favorite is NoMoRobo. Not all ISP (Internet Service Providers) use this free service. You can go to their website here to see if you qualify for it. I have found it to be stupendous in weeding out hacker and spam/scam phone calls. The government sites like DoNotCallRegistry is not effective or enforceable, unfortunately. The best tool of all, for now, is utilizing two-step and/or two-factor authorization (encryption). The names vary from site-to-site; however, most organizations will request a code from a text message they send to complete the login process. Wherever, you can utilize this service, please do so (as mentioned above). It is always free (except for possible phone charges, depending on your plan). Many of your ISP’s use it, including Comcast, Live (Outlook), Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to name some. I have found that Microsoft Live accounts provide a seven-digit code, where all others I have found provide a six-digit code. As for tablets and smart phones, I found the standard 4-digit login code to enter twice to be the best to ensure security. Also, Yahoo provides a few alternatives to two-step authentication. My favorite is using their four-character, upper-case alpha code, i.e. CAPA or something like that. It varies for each login.
What are the best phone, tablet, and other computer apps to use:
Well, this one gets dicey. This is why I still have my Motorola RAZR 3 G phone. So many apps have been compromised, I recommend this strategy: Use what the phone company, Android, etc., provides. Don’t download apps from third party sources. If you don’t know the source, don’t download it. The Microsoft and Google stores (to name a couple of many) provide adequate protection and are good about verifying their apps. So, for the most part, keep it simple and you’ll be fine. The alternative is possibly expensive repairs. For me, I can’t see how people can pay so much money for phones, especially Apple products. I use AT&T and haven’t paid for a phone, yet. They are also good at customer service for those in need. In our household we have a ZTE tablet and Android phone in addition to the other devices. They are both 4 G and that is more than enough. It is like having a yard around your house that is too big to keep maintained. To me, the basics provided on the devices is more than enough.
Here is one example of a downside of utilizing valid apps. It is called WhatsApp. It is a Messenger app that helps family and close friends to communicate in a private, secure environment. Although, Messenger has corrected a huge security breach from hackers that were able to change one small code, over a million downloads occurred from the hacked app. It contains malware that once installed, infects the device and spreads it to all connected devices in the network. Compromised devices are still out there today. So, for me, keeping it simple is my motto. It is easier to maintain a secure desktop and laptop for work than any phone. The sad thing is, today, so many people are using their smartphones as their computer stations. I am staying away from that.
By the way, if you haven’t considered how much RF (Radio Frequency) waves are passing through your bodies today? Wait until the 5 G towers start showing up. Have always wondered if I keep the active smartphone next to my head long enough, perhaps I could fry an egg on the noggin’ without firing up the stove? Hmmm, food for thought, isn’t it? Pun intended…
What are the basics of optimization tools; i.e. disk cleanup and defragmentation:
Here, follow the basics of what your computer settings offer you. Simply go to the search window and type in ‘disk cleanup’ and follow the prompts. Performing this task about once a week will keep your computer clean of fragmented files, temporary files, and other unnecessary information. Although, most antivirus software performs periodic defragmentation and Windows will do it if you set it on automatic, I still recommend every couple of months or so to at least check your computer to see if it is recommended to run a defragmentation of all drives. It will tell you. If there is any fragmentation, even 1%, I recommend running the software. This is part of the basics in smooth computer operations that I believe is not stated enough.
How to periodically flush your computer of leftover web data:
This is a cute little trick to periodically clean an area of your computer and most users who know the basics still do not know of this tool: How to flush (clean) the cache from your computer with a single command. CMD or command prompt is entered into your search window by typing ‘cmd’. You will then get a black window with a C:> (and other computer ID information). After the carrot, enter – flushdns and this will remove and clean the cache your computer uses to operate in the world-wide-web. Don’t worry, periodically clearing the cache here doesn’t mean you won’t be able to return to the Web or Internet. It helps clear what the computer keeps that is no longer necessary. Also, for those who think they can clear all information a computer saves on the hard drive or even the cloud, think again. No real information is ever completely lost. So, this tool helps the device run smoother and faster. This is the message you get when you completed the task correctly.
Utilizing the CMD command prompt is a very useful tools for computer users who know the basics and want to do more. I recommend looking up commands you may find useful and helpful in maintaining computer health. However, I am warning you about the ‘regedit’ tool to enter into CMD. Unless you are well beyond basics, do not enter your registry files. This is the inner workings of your device and it is here you can turn your computer into a paper weight if you are not certain of what you are doing.
What is the meaning of ‘storage’ space limitations?
Quite simply, when you get this notification, you are running out of hard drive disk space. I recommend here for standard SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) hard drives to not let storage fill more than 75-80% of the drive. It is best to attach a back up storage drive to your computer and then free up space on your hard drive. Do not forget to periodically defragment and clean up disk space with computer tools provided in your system. Some antivirus programs provide this service, as well. Even if you are on an automatic schedule, it is still a good idea to check, once in a while. Also, remember, if, for any reason your computer starts running slower than usual, go right to scanning tools, stop what your are doing, and start them immediately. It means you have junk, malware, or even a virus lurking around somewhere. As for limited hard drives, including solid state (i.e. 32 GB RAM drive) hard drives, do not invest in them. Even if you are only streaming movies from NETFLIX, HULU, or some other streaming software, your Microsoft updates will ultimately fill your hard drive space and this will cause more heartache to remedy than the user in basics will want to encounter. The fix is next level stuff so always invest in a hard drive (especially these days) of at least 250 GB of RAM (Random Access Memory).
What is the latest in Wi-Fi security, modem and router versions:
Let’s make this short and sweet. Wi-Fi is pretty much everywhere now. Measures are always underway to make wireless communications more secure. Most people know that using a public wi-fi service is inviting the unpleasant visitors to invade your privacy and take over your device. Soon, more security will become available to public providers. I still do not recommend connecting to a public provider without having the best antivirus and anti-malware software installed. So, when using your modem/router (depending if one-in-the-same provided by your ISP), make sure you encrypt it with your own device password (i.e most modems have a factory default of ID: admin and PW: password). Some ISP modems will not let you change admin, some do. What is most important is to install the password on the modem for your Wi-Fi in addition to your personal ID password. This is best for total protection from hackers. Install passwords on your TV’s and other devices, too. Make sure your modem is of the dual-band version 802.11ac. Also, good news is coming since WPA2 modem encryption was compromised this past year. Soon, you will have WPA3 protection. Now, I do recommend renting your modem from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). They don’t live long in this present insecure environment. I have three over the years collecting dust in a closet. The technology is in constant flux so keep it simple here, too.
Lastly, you can check with your provider for free modem tests and checks for a secure environment. There are free services available to check your modem, as well as, free checks for Internet speed. There are many so I recommend you contact your ISP first in this area. There are also a lot of bad actors who can spoof diagnostic software, so be careful.
How to properly use a surge protector power assembly to prevent power surge/outage damage:
Always attach your computer and peripheral power supplies to a certified surge protector! Period. As for battery backup, as mentioned earlier, you don’t really need it unless you have sensitive and necessary applications in operation and such an interruption could cause many problems in other areas. Bear in mind, most common power backups will not last longer than an hour so if your operation continuance is a must, invest in a power generator that can be connected in case of a power outage.
The value of computer repair and service companies:
As mentioned before, professional computer repair services are rather plentiful these days. Large computer and office firms like Best Buy and Staples can provide adequate technical assistance for a price. I won’t mention them here; however, I do admonish every user who is a novice or is equipped with knowledge of the basics to shop around. The prices do vary, greatly. I have found from personal experience that many of your local ‘mom and pop’ shops can provide you with a superb service at a reasonable rate. However, be sure they are certified as legitimate business owners. If something goes wrong in a few days or month, it is reassuring they are still around to back up their service.
Don’t forget, many of your computer issues can be solved by the image above. Lol, believe me, rebooting your device can solve many of your ills. Just like your DVR, TV that is connected to your ISP service where they recommend unplugging your power supply, wait ten seconds and then reconnect. Now, here is one caveat I want you all to know: Unplugging your computer should only be done as an absolute, last resort! If it freezes, goes black (monitor), or is completely unresponsive, you may have no choice. If it continues, seek professional help! Finally, if you use a wireless mouse and/or keyboard, don’t forget to check the batteries! Some of the peripherals don’t let you know, they just quit. Remember, 95% of all problems begin with simple connections. Don’t go exotic without doing your homework!
Summary: There is so much to cover in computer basics for security and operation. When I find something new or something I missed mentioning before, I will add it to this article. I do hope it has helped some of you to avoid costly repairs, slow running devices, and run-time errors. Again, as mentioned above, do not think for a minute that any information you have placed online, web, cloud or otherwise is every really lost. So, do not think there is a ‘magic bullet’ you can use to get rid of it. It’s too late. Therefore, always think ahead before you decide to share something or use sensititve information an a place that is insecure, especially public Wi-Fi locations!
In some areas of this article, I have been redundant for a reason. I wanted to hit home to help you all have more of an opportunity to ‘let it sink in’, so to speak. Especially, I wanted many of you to avoid the out-and-out cost of unnecessarily encountering costly repairs or having to purchase a new device. If you see there is something in basics I have missed, here, please take the time to let me know. I will certainly take a look and add the information where necessary. I’ll even mention you, if you wish and give permission. Thank you for reading and thank you for continuing to enjoy Universal Digest.