The health of your computer is a lot like that of your car. Today’s cars have built in diagnostics that monitor its health, alert you when a problem is detected and keeps you informed of when its time for routine maintenance. Like your car, tools are available to maintain your computer at its optimal performance and monitor its health to avoid loss of time and data. A Computer care subscription (also called managed services) reduces surprises and provides peace of mind. As your computer ages, its even more important.
Want to maintain the health of your computer yourself without the specialized tools provided with Computer Care? Here are 10 steps you can perform on your own:
Back Up – the single most important tip to eliminate surprise down time and lack of productivity. Both an onsite backup to a flash drive, portable external or NAS drive and a Cloud Backup are critical when disaster strikes. Whether it’s a damaged, lost or stolen computer, Ransomware, malware infection, or user error. Nothing can get you back in business faster than a good backup. A couple of points to keep in mind are how much data can you lose and still efficiently run your business and how recent does your data backup need to be? One giant step above the local and cloud backup is the BDR (Backup Disaster Recovery) appliance that not only backs up an image of your critical servers and desktops but also perform frequent snapshots of your data allowing a full recovery in a fraction of the time required to rebuild your mission critical systems.
Antivirus/Spyware/Malware Protection – It can take one simple click on an infected file, webpage or link to render your computer unusable. Endpoint protection is competitively priced with many reputable companies offering multi-computer discounts. As the adage goes “There is no such thing as a Free Lunch” and it’s the same when it comes to your computer’s security and protection. For pennies a day it’s well worth the investment in a reputable solution. Macs get viruses and spyware too and require the same protection as Windows computers.
Operating System Updates – Both Windows and Macs computers need Updates installed on a regular basis. Microsoft and Apple are proactively releasing Updates to keep their Operating Systems safe and secure. Run the Updates when they are available.
Third Party updates – Your computer itself also has updates regularly available to keep it secure and running smoothly. Many computer manufacturers such as Dell and HP include a Support Assistant that runs regularly, others can be run manually on your own schedule. Along with the computer hardware updates, third party programs such as Adobe Acrobat need to be updated.
Firewall – Your Internet provider usually supplies a Cable Modem or DSL Router with built in firewall or your can purchase your own. This hardware Firewall is the first line of defense in protecting your home or business network. Not all firewalls are created equal. If you are running a business or accepting Credit Card processing, a Business grade Firewall will provide greater protection and programming flexibility. Business grade Firewall’s also offers subscription services to regular firmware upgrades and Comprehensive Security Suites.
Passwords – These days we all experience “Password Fatigue”. Many online services are forcing password changes everything 90 days and often-complex password criteria is enforced making it difficult to maintain the same password for all your online services. With all the data breaches occurring, Professionals stress the importance of using unique passwords for each site visited. One option is to use a complex password and add a unique extension for each service. Password guidelines include a length of 8-10 include a mixture of characters, numbers and special characters such as # ! , ‘ ( ) &. An alternative to writing down all your passwords on a piece of paper in your home desk draw is to utilize a Password Manager program. There are a number of reliable Password Manager programs available either installed locally on your computer, in the vendor’s Cloud or on your smartphone.
Two-Factor Authentication –many online sites such as your bank and credit card company are offering two-factor authentication, which will Text or Email a code to be entered after you have signed in with your password. In addition to two-factor authentication, we are often required to complete a Capatcha word or pick from a variety of pictures.
Robo Calls – just like spam, we are constantly being bombarded with Robo Calls. Be suspicious of incoming calls. Microsoft, Apple, Windows, and the IRS will not call you. Sometimes the hackers get lucky and you happen to be experiencing a computer problem right before you receive the call. Just hang up. Only your trusted computer support person or a vendor you have contacted directly should ever be allowed remote into your computer.
Website Infection Notifications – hackers successfully infect Websites all the time. If you happen to click on a website, link or enter a website name with a minor misspelling you may be redirected to an webpage reporting that you are infected and to call the telephone number on the screen. This warning screen often freezes up your computer making it unresponsive. If that happens, power off the computer. The real infection will happen if you call the phone number and allow the hacker to remote into your computer. Again, only your trusted computer person should be allowed to login to your computer.
Maintain a relationship with a trusted IT Consultant. If you a running a business, your IT Consultant will not only keep your computers and network safe, running smoothly, backed up and documented but are invaluable in helping you develop your technology roadmap and keep up with the constant changing landscape of technology offerings that will save your business money in the future as well as maintain a productivity edge over your competition.
In summary, backup, protection, monitoring and maintenance are the keys to a stress free computer experience. Being prepared and proactive is the difference between letting unforeseen circumstances put you out of business or to thrive no matter what hacker event or disaster comes your way.
Elaine Sampson is president of San Diego BOS Techs. You can reach her at Elaine@sdbos.com, or by phone at 858.922.7765.