1.Use a surge protector to protect your computer and peripherals from voltage spikes that may occur due to lightning or another cause. While during a lightning storm it is best to unplug, most of us do not. In the event of a surge your equipment can get destroyed. Think of having a garden hose and too much water goes through at one time putting too much pressure on the hose. The result is a hose that bursts. A good surge protector prevents this from happening.
2.With 2 exceptions, do not turn off your computer with the power switch. Shut your computer down by going into the start tab and select the "Shut Down" option. The 2 exceptions are if you computer freezes and after selecting the "Shut Down" option, the computer is still on 10 minutes later. Using the power switch can result in lost data or windows files. The computer needs to go through a sequence of things in order to properly shut down.
3.As noted in a previous blog, backing up your data is a very inexpensive insurance policy in the event of a hard drive or other computer failure to minimize any data loss. The link to my blog on backing up is http://computerconciergeny.com/3/post/2010/06/back-up-back-up-back-up.html. There are several ways to approach this but failure to backup is a recipe for losing all of your data in the event of a failure. A recent study by Symantec indicated that 80% of computer users do not have backup software installed on their computer.
4.Less and less computers these days come with a recovery disk. Perform a Recovery Disk Creation as soon as you can. Go to control panel/system and security/create a system recovery disk (if not there “create a system repair disk) and insert 1st disk. Will need about 3-5 DVDs which are preferred over CDs for this exercise. Click the start tab which is usually in the lower left of your computer;then type “repair” in the search bar and choose System Repair Disk. Follow instructions. In the event you ever need to reinstall your system, this will come in handy. Make sure you keep these disks in a safe and secure place.
5.Anti virus software and anti spyware are a must. Microsoft Security Essentials is a good free program. If you are purchasing an internet security program, Norton and McAfee offer good protection.
6.If you have a wireless internet connection, it MUST be password protected. An open connection enables outsiders to access your internet service. Personal information of yours is compromised. In addition, any illegal activity done on your internet connection is traced to it.
7.DO NOT give out information on the internet or otherwise when you are solicited for it. You may get an email along the lines of "there is an issue with your account. Please supply (your password, social security number, date of birth, etc)." On the internet, most sites have a policy where they will NEVER ask you for personal information online. When in doubt, call the bank or other financial institution in question. This is not only on the internet but anywhere. When I get a call where the caller says there is a security issue regarding a credit card of mine, I immediately hang up. It could be a ploy to get personal information of mine to steal my identity. I refer to the back of the credit card in question and call that number. If a voicemail message is left with a phone number to call I never call the number they say to call at. It may be a true and legitimate issue but why take the chance? Also avoid scams where you have to pay money to get money.
8.NEVER unplug peripherals from your computer when it is on. This can short out the connector socket or motherboard. When using a USB drive or similar there is an option usually on lower right hand side to safely remove hardware. Click this and select what you wish to remove. When OK to remove message is shown then it is safe.
9.I am guilty of this one but keep food and drink away from computer, mouse, keyboard and any other electronic device. Crumbs, soda and juice spills can cause sticky keys. Liquids on or in electronic devices can ruin them.
10.And last,when using a public computer make sure you log off your email accounts and any other site you have been to that required you to log in using a user name and/or password. On more than one occasion I have accessed a public computer and noticed that the previous user did not log out of their email account. Your email account is open to that person and at that point belongs totally to them. They can if they wish send nasty messages to a friend, significant other, etc. As an aside here, for those having Flickr accounts. Flickr is a photosharing company owned by Yahoo. If you log into Flickr and then logout, you need to go to your Yahoo account and log out. I do not know why this happens. If you go into your Yahoo account and log in, your Flickr account is not affected.
By following the above tips, you will make your computer safer to use and less likely to breakdown. You also will be using the internet in a safer manner.