Introduction

Many people have some kind of computer in their home or office. However, many of those people do not know some key things that they can or should do. In this article, I will describe the things you should know to manage your computer in several aspects.

Shutting Down the Computer

Did you know that shutting down your computer may not do a full shutdown? This is due to a feature in Windows 10 called “Fast startup” and its purpose is to decrease the amount of time it takes the system to start. In some systems, fast startup is enabled by default. This is something that you may need to be aware of if your system exhibits strange behavior when the system is shut down and then restarted manually.

Read the Screen

I have experienced many people who introduce a virus to their system, installed software unknowingly, or changed the configuration of their system unknowingly because they did not read the prompts that appeared on the screen. Sometimes a dialog box will pop up while programs are being installed on your system giving you configuration options and sometimes the option to install another program. It is, therefore, important that you read the content of dialog boxes while installing programs or that may appear unexpectedly. Read the screen!

Customize the Start Menu

Did you know that you do not have to use the default start menu in Windows 10? You can add, remove, and rearrange the items in the start menu according to your preferences.

Use Encryption on Laptops

If you have a laptop that you travel regularly with, then the disk drive on it should be encrypted to protect the data on it in case the laptop is lost or stolen. The contents on an encrypted drive cannot be read even if the drive is attached to another computer. Note that disk encryption using BitLocker is not available on Windows 10 Home editions. If you need to encrypt a disk drive on a laptop that you travel frequently with, then you should either upgrade to Windows 10 Pro or use a third-party encryption program.

Know what programs start with Windows

There are a plethora of programs that start running when Windows start. Some of those programs may not need to be automatically started. You can see what programs are starting with Windows and then disabling the ones that you don’t want to automatically startup.

Use Strong Passwords

One thing that I see repeatedly is the use of weak passwords. You should use strong passwords to help protect access to your online resources. Creating your own algorithm to help you create strong passwords or using a password manager will go a long way to protect access to resources you use.

Don’t Use Old Versions of Windows

All operating systems go the way of the Dodo eventually. This means that Microsoft will no longer support operating systems that have gone to the “end of life” status. This includes Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows XP. The reason that you should not use an unsupported operating system is that vulnerabilities in it are no longer patched and you are, therefore, susceptible to hacks.

Show File Extensions

Windows comes with the default setting of not showing filename extensions. Therefore, a file with the name of myfile.exe or myfile.txt will appear in Windows explorer simply as myfile. You may not know which one is which. I recommend turning showing file extensions ON. This will enable you to readily identify executable files (.exe, .bat, .cmd, etc.) from other data files such as .docx or .pdf.

Keep Current Backups

I have experienced times when people have lost their files (e.g., family photos, company files, etc.) simply because they did not keep current backups. When a hard disk fails or the system is stolen, then all of the files on that system go with it. Always keep a current copy of your files. If your computer is critical to you or your business then you may consider having regular disk images made of your system.

Update Software Quickly

Always update Windows and software on your computer as soon as the updates are available. In an office environment, the updates may be controlled by the system administrator and may need to be tested before rolling out to company computers. However, generally, you want to make sure that Windows and all of the software on your system have the most recent updates applied. This helps to protect you from hackers taking advantage of discovered vulnerabilities in the software.

Use Good Internet Security

Use reputable and good internet security systems such as Kaspersky, Norton 360, BitDefender, and others). You may opt to use a free antivirus solution, but keep in mind that they will not have all of the features and protection of a paid version. If children use the computer then I highly recommend a very good paid internet security program.

Clean Your Computer

Did you know that your computer sucks air into it to help keep the internal electronics cool? It is not only air that gets sucked in, but dust as well. I’ve seen some computers that had layers of dust inside as well as spiders who found a nice warm home to live in. Perhaps once a year, open the case and clean the inside of your computer using short bursts of compressed air or a vacuum cleaner specially designed for cleaning inside computers and electronics. Of course, you can clean the outside of the computer using a damp rag. Clean your keyboard, mouse, and trackball as well.

Leave Your PC ON at Night

People sometimes wonder or ask if they should turn their computers off when they are done for the day. You probably don’t need to turn your PC off especially if you are using a newer system (less than 10 years old). However, if you only use the PC a short time each day, then it might be good to turn it off. Today’s computers use very little power when they are configured to go to sleep after a period of inactivity, which uses very little power and is negligible if the system were off.

Don’t Use a Screen Saver

Screen savers were the answer to the problem of image burn-in on the old CRT monitors. However, computers today typically have a flat panel display and burn-in is not an issue. Therefore, using a screen saver is not necessary. Instead, have the display go blank when not in use.

Uninstall Unused Programs

There are probably many programs that are installed on your system that you never use and probably didn’t know were installed. Systems come with many apps pre-installed for you, many of which you probably don’t need. Therefore, periodically check to see what programs are installed and uninstall the ones you know you don’t use.

Use Separate Accounts

Every person who uses a computer should have their own account with appropriate permissions. This is especially true if children use the computer. The parents or computer owner should have accounts with administrative privileges and children should have standard user permission.

Regular Maintenance

Your computer should be maintained regularly as you do your car. This will help the computer run smoothly and help extend its life. Regular maintenance includes things like cleaning (inside and out), organizing files and folders, checking antivirus status, etc.

Conclusion

We use our computers every day and we should, therefore, maintain it properly so that it remains reliable for as long as possible. You don’t need to be a computer scientist to perform basic and regular maintenance tasks as described in this article. Of course, Reggie’s PC Resources is available to help you. Just give us a call or send us an email..

 

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