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The ABCs of Computer Maintenance & Security

Antivirus & Spyware Software is a Must!

Better System Performance Tips

Caring For Your Computer & Data




Antivirus & Spyware Software is a Must!

Install antivirus software (Visit Forney 202 to purchase Symantec for $5).
UNCG sells Symantec antivirus for $5 for ALL students. You are only allowed to purchase one copy of Symantec per year. Please visit Room 202 in the Forney Building to purchase software. Note: If you currently have outdated software and you are installing a new antivirus program, you should remove the old antivirus program.

Keep your antivirus software updated.
New viruses come out all the time. The antivirus software adds updates to block the new viruses that come out. Stay protected by running your updates! The easiest way to assure you are always up to date is to allow your antivirus software to check for updates on its own.

Install spyware prevention software.
Spyware is different from a virus. Spyware is a type of malware that can be installed on computers and collects little bits of information without your knowledge. Other types of malware include adware, toolbars, dialers, and hijackers. These types of malware can cause pop-ops and advertisements, sending out information about you and your computer to someone else. It is hard to know if you have spyware. Therefore, it is best to avoid it and stay protected. You can download free anti spyware (Ad_Aware or Malwarebytes) for Windows 2000, Professional, XP, Vista, and 7. Remember to keep it updated!

Beware downloading tool bars - they can cause problems and contain malware.
Toolbars can cause problems, and some are actually malware. It is best to have only one toolbar (and to remove the rest). Malware toolbars almost always include characteristics of malware, such as pop-ops and advertisements.

Scan external devices you plug into your computer (e.g., flash drives).
Viruses are everywhere, and they can creep into your computer and cause serious damage. This is common knowledge, but these sneaky little viruses can creep onto your external hard drive as well. Keep your information safe by doing a routine scan of your external hard drive for viruses. (Source: How to Scan an External Hard Drive for Viruses)

When searching via Google, Bing, or other engines, check the URL before clicking on the link to ensure it is a reputable site (and the site you intend to go to).
Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money. Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer. (Source: How to recognize phishing email messages, links, or phone calls)

Avoid chatting with or opening messages from people on Facebook you do not know.
If any of your Facebook friends sends you a message like this, he/she might have gotten the same message and clicked on it. This is why you are getting this message:

[hey lol check out this girl,she i cant believe this video. D: bit.ly/gAzf5B]

This virus requests permission to access your Facebook Chat and then when you allow the application, it sends the same message to all your friends who are online. (Source: Beware of This Facebook Chat Virus)

Avoid downloading programs such as Limewire, MP3Rocket, Forwire, Kazaa, etc.
These will almost always give your machine a virus, and could cause you to lose Internet privileges at UNCG for three years. Instead, consider services such as iTunes, Amazon, MOG, or Napster.



Better System Performance Tips

Always run all software updates for your computer when prompted.
Software updates can dramatically help the performance of your computer, and more importantly, protect it from viruses. Your computer will notify you with a pop up when new updates are ready to install. Simply click on Install when you see the pop up.  Note: Many updates take a long time. A good time to run them is in the evening after you are finished using your computer for the day. You will also need a good internet connection to run the updates. For more information, see Windows Update or Apple Software Update, based on your computer's operating system.

Reformat your computer every 6 - 7 months.
Reformatting is the process of removing all software on a computer and subsequently reinstalling everything. Reformatting or "wiping your computer clean" will assure you are removing any possible malware (e.g., viruses and spyware) on your computer. If you purchased your laptop as part of the Student Laptop Program (SLP), you can bring your laptop to the Technology Support Center (TSC) in Forney 101. The TSC will reformat your computer free of charge. Please make sure all of your data is backed up prior to your visit. If you did not purchase your laptop through the program, but have your original CDs that came with your laptop (including the Restore Disc and Windows Installation CD), you can bring your laptop with the necessary CDs and the TSC staff will talk you through this process.

Empty your Recycle Bin/Trash regularly.
Emptying your Recycle Bin or Trash regularly saves space on your computer, and improves the processing speed of your computer.

Uninstall unused programs to save space and speed up processing.
Removing unused programs is a fast & cheap way to make your computer perform better. Windows users should use the Add or Remove Programs function. Mac Users can uninstall apps manually or use programs that remove unwanted apps.

Remove shortcut items from your desktop (they slow the computer down).
Icons on your desktop will slow down your system, especially during the start-up process. Delete your desktop icons by right-clicking and selecting Delete. Note: The programs will still be on your computer, you are only deleting the desktop icon.

Defrag your computer once every month.
The Windows operating system places files and programs on a hard drive where there is space. Over time a hard drive can become fragmented with hundreds of files broken up in many locations across the drive. Eventually, this will slow down your computer's response time because it takes longer for it to access information. Using a defrag program can play an important role in speeding up your computer.



Caring For Your Computer & Data

Keep your computer clean & dust-free.
Cleaning your computer regularly will extend its life, and allow it to perform better.

Keep liquids away from your computer.
As tempting as it might be to drink coffee, soda, water or any other liquid near your laptop, accidents can happen all too easily. Spilled liquids may damage the internal components or cause electrical injury to the laptop. Short circuits can corrupt data or even permanently destroy parts. (Source: How to Take Good Care of Your Computer)

Keep your computer away from extreme temperatures.
Determining the exact maximum/minimum temperatures varies between computers. Generally speaking, if the temperature is uncomfortably warm or cold to you, assume it is for your computer. Discover your computer's maximum CPU temperature.

Secure your laptop to the desk where you're working, and never leave it unattended.
All modern laptops have a special "Kensington security slot," usually located in the side of the base and marked with a padlock or chain image. A laptop lock clicks into this hole to physically secure your laptop to your desk or other permanent fixture. You can purchase a combination or key lock at any computer or stationery store. (Source: Keeping Your Laptop Secure)

Backup your data onto an external hard drive, flash, CD or DVD, or use online backup.
Avoid problems in the future by backing up all your data onto an external hard drive, flash drive, CD-R or CD-RWs, or using online backup. The most important items you want to back up are your Word/Excel files, photos, music, etc. Usually, it is good to do a backup once a week or any time you create something you do not want to lose.

Keep your passwords confidential, make them tough for others to figure out, avoid posting them in conspicuous places, and change them every 90 days.
Most computer experts and online security professionals recommend changing your Internet passwords and account login information at least once every three months. Changing all of your Internet passwords every three to six months can be a time-consuming and even a frustrating task. But it is a sure way to guarantee some level of safety for all of your online accounts. (Source: How Often Should I Change My Password?)