What do I have to do to keep my computer out of trouble? That was the question and I’m taking it to include avoiding security problems and eliminating actions that bring unwanted or unexpected results. You’re not looking for trouble; just want to enjoy a happy, safe, fast computer environment.
Here goes my rogues list of menaces, counting down in reverse order. Number five is what I call “Happy Fingers”. I’m referring to the practice of leaving your fingers on the keyboard after you’ve input something and unintentionally tapping a key(s) so that some unwanted action occurs; many times without being conscious of it. This ends up with unwanted checkboxes and other errant messages that take you away from your intended task. The opposing effect can happen when you flip through a Website form and miss un-checking a box that results in receipt of email and other offers from companies you had no interest in.
Number four is what I call unsafe email practices. This includes opening mail with attachments from people you don’t recognize, replying to requests for personal information and using a weak password in your email account.
Next on my countdown is neglecting needed maintenance and backups. Even if you have Windows updates and your AVG updates and scans on automatic, you should manually verify that all is well on some kind of regular basis. If you are backing up important files automatically, verify the procedure to make sure it works as you expect.
Second from the worst is unsafe surfing. Traveling in cyberspace is kind of like real life travel. You need to be aware of the neighborhood you’re in. The worst possible neighborhood for picking up malware is a porno site. Second worst is an illegal music sharing site. There always seems to be some site that offers copyrighted music for “free”. Current, popular music is never free except maybe as a snippet to get you to buy a song or an album. There are some sites that offer classical music free and you will sometimes find music whose copyright has expired, but don’t expect current offerings. If you find yourself accidentally on a porno or other undesirable site, close your browser and empty all the temporary files (easy to do with a free utility like CCleaner or SlimCleaner).
At the top of my rogues list is a teenage boy. There is no more dangerous threat to computer tranquility than a teenage boy. They generally combine happy fingers and a lack of attention to detail with a penchant for pornography and a love of music, especially “free” music. If you have a child or grandchild in this category it would be well to let him sign into your PC with his own profile, or better yet buy him a separate PC. That will probably be cheaper and less aggravating in the long run. I say this not so much as a criticism of the species, but as a warning to my readers. Teenage boys cannot help it; they’re just wired that way, best forewarned than sorry.
For 2012, resolve to send your questions to:firstname.lastname@example.org