Have a broadband internet connection? If your computer has an ‘Internet IP Address’ rather than a ‘Natted IP Address’ your PC is directly exposed to hackers. You need a broadband router between your PC and the broadband modem. Install a wireless broadband router and add wireless functionality to your home or office network!
Turn off the Desktop Cleanup Wizard in XP. Right click on an open area of your desktop, choose Properties from the context sensitive menu, select the Desktop tab from the Display Properties dialog box, click the Customize Desktop button, uncheck Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days, click OK, and click OK again.
Beware of the ‘Phishing Email’ attacks. These are very common. Typically an email appears in your inbox informing you that some well known company has attempted to delivery something to you either at your home/work address, or possibly even to your email, and there was some problem. They might even intimate that there is money or benefit to you involved. They want you to either click on some link or open an attached document to resolve this problem. Clicking on that item is where your problem(s) will begin, so don’t do it, just delete the email and move on.
I have had customers receive phone calls from persons claiming to work for Microsoft or some other company claiming that your computer has been identified as being infected and possibly even sending out infected emails. They claim that they are calling you to gain remote access to your computer for the purpose of cleaning your infected computer. They usually have obfuscated their number if you have caller ID so that you don’t really know the number they are calling from. Should you ask for a call back number they will give you a phone number and hang up. You can even call that call back number and reach a supervisor who affirms that so-and-so is in their employ and that they will call right back to complete their service. Again you get the call from the original person ready to clean-up your computer. You might even let them remote in, they usually start talking fast and opening things on your computer that hide their real activity, searching your computer for any valuable information, or just snooping around while they claim to be fixing your problem. Then of course comes the demand for payment and a request for your credit card information. Folks, this is a scam pure and simple, one that the U.S. government has finally begun investigating and prosecuting, don’t be their victim. So far the attacks appear to be directed mainly at the elderly, so beware!
There are good security softwares available free for home users. Visit free.avg.com or www.microsoft.com/security_essentials for free antivirus software. Also visit superantispyware.com, malwarebytes.org, and safer-networking.org to obtain excellent anti-malware software.
Want to bring your internet connection to a remote part of your home or office but running a network cable from your router is not a good option? Try using a pair of Powerline Adapters! Netgear and Linksys are two vendors who make these items, just buy a boxed pair of the devices. Plug one into a wall outlet near your router and connect a network cable to your router or switch, then plug the other into a wall outlet near that remote area and connect a network cable from your PC/Laptop to the wall adapter and you should be network connected! Linksys even sells a model that has multiple network connections at the remote end. The newer versions reach speeds near standard ethernet networks.
If you install a wireless broadband router or wireless access point on your home or office network, be sure to configure some type of encryption or security on that wireless device. WEP is basic protection, WPA is more secure, MAC filtering is even stronger security but more difficult to administer. It is also a good idea to change the password on your device rather than leaving the default password. Read the directions on your device and you can do this yourself. If you have an outsider perform the installation or configuration make sure they provide you with written documentation about the configuration, it will come in handy when adding devices or making changes.
Beware of folks who provide overly simplistic statements when it comes to computers or networks. I typically quit listening when people tell me “all you have to do is…” Typically you are not getting the whole story. Technology changes fast, and believe me, I don’t have space to tell you how often I have to fill in the incomplete information provided by these types. Often when it comes to IT there are multiple ways to reach goals. Spend some time checking these statements by searching the internet before spending your money.
Try to have all the memory in your computer that it will support. That information should be available from the manufacturer. They might even sell it to you (but you can usually get it cheaper elsewhere). Often you can just take your PC or laptop to a retailer and they can both sell and install the proper speed and amount of memory that your PC can support. If you have a 32bit Windows OS you will likely have a 3 Gigabyte limit, a 64bit Windows OS can address more, don’t let them sell you more than your motherboard and OS support though. The advantage of having them install and test the memory is it will be guaranteed to work, manufacturer limitations can complicate memory upgrades so if you aren’t highly technical get help with this. A memory upgrade provides the best bang for your buck when it comes to increasing system performance.
The hard drive(s) in your computer are hard working devices. Unless you have a new Solid State Drive (SSD) then your drive has a motor, spinning discs, and moving heads. The data is stored on those spinning discs, and read and written to by those moving heads. After time the files written on those discs typically get more and more fragmented because of the methodology used performing those functions. To reduce the devices workload, decrease its response times, and hopefully to increase its longevity, it is wise to remove unneeded files and defragment the hard drive occasionally. In the Windows operating systems the Disk Defragmenter is a standard utility that accomplishes the defragmentation task effectively. I like to use TFC to remove all the unneeded cache and temp files that accumulate in the normal use of the computer first, then the Disk Defragmenter will be most effective and finish sooner. I do have one caveat, do NOT defragment hard drives that are used to store large backup files from other hard drives. That would risk corrupting your backup files that were created by a backup utility so is not a good idea.