If only your computer could wrestle the mouse from your fingers, I have a feeling it would have a few choice words with you. If it could stop you from opening that link, or downloading that “great new application”, I am sure both of you would be much happier.
In the spirit of taking charge, Nerds Chicks bring you “Your Computer’s Wishes” (as translated by me, of course!).
“Dearest human user, it can be so easy to keep me clean and happy. I want to help you finish that spreadsheet, really I do. But when I get inundated with pop-ups and beat up by viruses, I can hardly boot up in the morning. This year, help me, help you!”
1. Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware: First and foremost, please resolve to install and regularly update my antivirus and anti-malware software. My top choice for keeping me virus and pop-up free is Microsoft Security Essentials. They’ve made some great improvements in their software and now provide a great, easy, all-in-one solution to keep me healthy and running in top form. Download it here.
2. Windows Updates: While we are on the subject of keeping things up to date, please download and install all of the Windows Updates that are available. These are a necessary component to my stay healthy routine, like that morning jog I know you try to get to. All you need to do is update security settings (accessed via “My Computer”) and choose to allow Windows Updates to download and install automatically. Trust me – it’s nowhere near as painful as the jogging!
3. Ditch Internet Explorer: Next, please resolve to never again surf the web using Internet Explorer. I know, I know, it’s so familiar and change can be hard. But Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are great, safer alternatives, I promise! Surfing the web on Internet Explorer exposes me to more bad stuff than less popular browsers. Internet Explorer comes locked into every Windows PC, and the virus and spyware writers know it. Simply changing the portal you use to reach the websites you go to can make everyday surfing so much safer for me! Download for FREE
4. Be Suspicious: Speaking of surfing the Internet, please try to resist the urge to open the link that was forwarded to you by Aunt Edna. Nothing against Edna, I think her “lolcats” link was hilarious too! But who knows where that link originated, after all? Aunt Edna is just a conduit; her name in the sender line doesn’t mean the email and link originated from a trusted source. By the way, anything that seems to be too good to be true (like those emails purporting to give you money by clicking here or those emoticons you downloaded last week?) probably comes laced with spyware. Please, only download from trusted websites.
5. Back Up Your Data: Finally, let’s make a pact that 2012 will be the year that you set up a reliable, automatic data back- up solution for me. External hard drives are a great option. Western Digital and Seagate have great warranties, and often come with software to help you set up an automated back- up regiment. Once set up, you can forget about it - everything you change or add to my memory will automatically get backed up.
Of course any hard drive can fail, but the likelihood that both my primary drive AND a backup drive would fail simultaneously is pretty slim. However, a house fire would destroy all of your records if you keep a local backup.
An alternative is an online storage website like CrashPlan (www.crashplan.com) that works on both Windows and Apple computers. Choose to back up to another computer on your network, a friend's computer, a local external drive or to its servers.
I recommend using its servers for several reasons. First, this route is cheap; you can back up one computer for a mere $3 a month or as many as 10 computers, with unlimited storage, for $6. It's reliable.
Backing up content to another computer on the network or a friend's computer has the same risks as backing up to an external drive: they all eventually will fail. CrashPlan has redundant or multiple servers, increasing safety. After running through its simple setup, access your files through the program installed on your computer or through its website.
Make 2012 the year you resolve to keep your computer in shape!
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Andrea is the celebrated and syndicated technology columnist for Scripps-Howard and regularly appears as a guest tech correspondent on ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets. If you have questions about this article or other tech questions feel free to email Andrea @ email@example.com.