Keep Your Computer and Data Safe

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WAHMGeneral Internet Marketing Articles > Keep Your Computer and Data Safe

Keep Your Computer and Data Safe

In this day and age of computing, we all work and spend so much of our time using computers and the Internet. Sometimes, we get so busy in our daily lives that we may take our computers for granted and not even think about data security.

The fact of the matter is, most people have heard of security issues and flaws in Windows, but few know what to do about it or where to even begin. I'm here to offer a few simple tips to help you start protecting your information, both business and personal.

I have a brand new machine, shouldn't it already be updated?
No. New security flaws are discovered all the time and patches are released at least once a month, sooner if possible. Once connected to the Internet, click the Start button on your computer and click on Windows Update on the Start menu. It will take you to the Windows Update web site, and there is a link to scan your computer for critical updates, recommended updates and driver updates. Always download the critical updates and driver updates; review the recommended updates and install the ones pertinent to your computer system and preferences.

How can I protect myself against viruses?
Anti-virus programs are crucial to keeping your system safe, but should not be used in place of common sense. Never download files attached to emails unless you are expecting the file, and it's from someone you know. Be careful of downloading files from people you know if it is a generic email that says, "see attached file for information you requested" if you didn't request anything from the user. Some people accidentally get "Worms" on their computer that will replicate the virus to everyone in their address book. Keep your anti-virus software up to date with the latest virus definitions. You can often do a free scan on your computer from McAfee's website or Norton's website.

Should I buy personal firewall software?
This is often tricky as many personal firewall programs can interfere with your computing experience and many times may corrupt your computer. I prefer hardware firewalls over software. You can buy routers with built in firewall protection from Linksys and many other companies.

What is Spyware and what does it do?
Spyware is a program you can download often for free. AOL distributes it with its latest disk, or you can download one from I like Ad-Aware. This program will review all the files on your computer to see if there are any invasive cookies or programs that report on your internet usage to spammers. Certain cookies are often placed on your computer, often without your knowledge. Many times, they report back to other companies where you go online, sites you visit, and they tailor spam to your "interests".

My Internet is running slow, how can I speed it back up again?
Keep your Temporary Internet Files folder empty, and delete your cookies regularly. You can do this by right-clicking on the Internet Explorer icon on your desktop, click on Properties and delete the files and off-line content from there. Reboot your computer, and all should be well again.

I've done all these things, how do I know if I'm as secure as I can be?
Microsoft has a program called Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) that you can download for free. This will analyze your computer for security flaws, report on a variety of issues with tips on how to patch the holes. It is a terrific tool that anyone with a computer should not live without. The only downside is that it will only run on systems with Windows 2000 or higher.

I'm running Windows 98 SE, is my system secure?
No. There is little, if any, security in a Windows 98 environment. If you're on a broadband Internet connection, you may consider upgrading your operating system to Windows 2000 or XP. Windows ME, 98 and 95 were not designed for security. If you're concerned with security on your computer, consider upgrading. Additionally, Microsoft discontinued all support for Windows 98 and earlier systems in January, 2004.

These tips are general computer safety and security tips. To keep your systems safe, backup your data regularly, implement a disaster recovery plan, should the unthinkable happen to your machine, and patch your systems regularly.

Rayanne M. Buchianico is a Microsoft Certified Professional specializing in IT Consulting for the small and medium-sized business. She leads the Consulting Department with Snyder & Spoerl, CPAs & Associates in Palm Harbor, Florida and can be reached at  or (727)787-4223. She has over 16 years in public accounting and computer consulting experience, including planning and implementing complete networks and business solutions.

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