Have You Made These Five Computing Mistakes?

Category: Reference

I hate to sound unsympathetic, but most computer problems are caused by careless users. There are a few basic steps you can take to avoid malware infections, data loss, and performance issues. But too many people try to save time or money by cutting corners, and they end up paying the price...

Five Computing Mistakes to Avoid

Here are five of the most common computing mistakes, and some tips on corrective action you can take today.

SECURITY: Failure to use anti-malware and firewall protection is like leaving your door open and your wallet on the table. Viruses, spyware, trojans, keyloggers, rootkits and other malware are ubiquitous, and they can enter a computer through many different channels. The damage that malware can do ranges from minor annoyance to data loss to identity theft. The latter can take years to remedy and cost thousands of dollars.

It's been shown that a computer left unprotected can be infected within minutes after going online! Protecting yourself against malware should be a high priority. There really is no excuse for not using an effective anti-malware program. I have reviewed many of them here, and all are available in free versions.
Five Computing Mistakes

OPERATING SYSTEM: Keeping Windows up to date is also a critical security chore, and one that too many users skip. Hackers discover new vulnerabilities in the world's most popular operating system every month, and Microsoft issues critical security updates of Windows and other MS applications as fast they're fixed. Obtaining this free protection is as easy as enabling Automatic Updates in Windows; just set it and forget it.

SOFTWARE: Application software also needs to be kept up to date and secure. Many malware packages target vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, and other popular applications. Automatic updates are available for many applications, and they should be enabled so you can easily receive security updates. Manual checks for updates should be performed at least monthly if automatic updates are not available.

HARD DRIVE: Defragmenting one's hard drive is as important as changing the oil in a car regularly. Every hard drive's data gets fragmented over time. Fragmentation makes the drive's read/write head work harder, shortening the life of the drive. Fragmented files are more likely to become corrupted, too, causing loss of data and problems running applications. Defragmentation can be done while you work, or scheduled for times when the computer is idle.

BACKUPS: Backing up data is probably the most neglected computing safety chore. The Backup utility built into Windows will do an adequate job of backing up just your data or your entire hard drive. Alternatively, there are many backup utilities and online storage services for your backup copies. You don't even have to remember to run a backup; just schedule backup runs weekly and let them run while you sleep.

The biggest mistake most users make is assuming that the worst will never happen to them. Paying attention to these five simple chores can prevent a myriad of computing problems. Have you made any of these mistakes? Follow the links above and learn how to protect yourself from viruses, identity theft, data loss and sluggish performance.

Your thoughts are welcome on this topic! Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Have You Made These Five Computing Mistakes?"

Posted by:

17 Oct 2011

What about Linux system? I´ve been using Ubuntu at home (MS is standard at my job site) and had no worries about security. Is that safe?

Posted by:

Gerald Altman
17 Oct 2011

Regarding free anti-virus programs. Some may be excellent for finding and eliminating dangerous viruses, but they seem to lack some features that Norton Internet Security has, namely frequent automatic updating and guarding of your computer's entrance portals. When I first got my new HP computer with Windows 7, a 60-day trial for NIS was included. During this time, there was not a single intrusion of a virus, worm, Trojan or whatever.
I think that a $65 yearly license for all my three computers was worth getting rid of the worry of having some malware raising hell in my computers after sneaking in when my free-AV watchdogs weren't looking. You "gets what you pays for"!

Posted by:

17 Oct 2011

I don't know what updates are crucial. I still have a gateway with windows xp. Once in a while I have to re install everything because the computer becomes extremely slow, or have malware or something (I back up my files, and do all the cleaning, run antivirus, defrag, etc). Then I start from zero and when I click on updates for my computer, it will give me about 100 (hundred)updates to install and they have different identification with the same title. Microsoft support told me to download/update all but this seems to slow down my computer. I asked support what where critical files for windows xp and he said that all. How can I know what are necessary to download and update so my computer won't slow down?
Thank you,

Posted by:

17 Oct 2011

It's been my experience that whenever I reinstall XP Pro (and even Windows 7), the very first thing I do is install my antivirus suite and update it. Then I'll start with the latest Service Pack. That would be SP3 for XP and SP1 for Windows 7. The Service Pack will install all of the earliest updates and then you can install updates that came out after the Service Pack. You'll still have a boatload so I install just a few at a time (usually 5 at a time, never more than 10.)

If an update causes issues you'll know which group the offending update is in. Uninstall all 5 and reinstall one at a time. They'll either install without problems or you'll know which specific update is causing the issue. Disregard the offending update for the time being and continue installing the rest 5 or 10 at a time.

I do the Critical updates first, then the important updates, and lastly the Optional ones. After all updates are installed I'll run a full virus scan, then use Disk Cleanup to get rid of temporary files, and then I'll defrag. This should pretty well assure that your machine will run at optimum speed. Hope this helps.

Posted by:

Digital Artist
17 Oct 2011

I recently lost a computer to some kind of worm (Worm being the person behind it, maybe not the malware). The mistake was to click on a link purportedly to download an update for installed software. Being cautious to keep my software updated I fell right into the trap. The caveat here is to be cautious about clicking on links to update software, not to avoid updating. (The specific software was Microtorrent (utorrent) bit torrent client. That permanently ended my occasional relationship with P to P networks)

Posted by:

18 Oct 2011

Bob, it's hard to imagine anyone NOT following the simple rules outlined above! I have no sympathy for those who don't and then whine after the fact. Ignorance is no excuse for negligence either. The guidance is available everywhere, and is as easy as simply signing up for your newsletter! These same people likely don't maintain their vehicles or air conditioners either. If you're gonna be lazy and apathetic, you deserve what you get!

Posted by:

18 Oct 2011

I gave up on Windows last year. Now using Linux and very happy. I update the system a couple of times a week. My computer is much faster using Linux than it was with Windows 7.

Posted by:

Santiago Neira
18 Oct 2011

After years of experience (I began with DOS) of working, installing and re-configuring windows pcs I changed my mind about windows updates. Call me crazy, but since the last XP reinstall (more than a year ago), I do not do the windows updates. I trust my computer security (with zero, yes, zero worms problems in this period) to regularly updated MBAM and AVG 2012. It makes sence the computer is going to be slower with the updates because they are too much (more and more commands to process), and worst, they can crash and ruin your system, making you restart the intallation over from the beginig (format again?) stop it!, I´m proving they are useless waste of time. Do somebody already experienced that?. Thanks Bob, I really enjoy your material.

Posted by:

21 Oct 2011

My local computer shop tells me that de-frag is not really necessary for Vista or Windows 7. Is that true?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not true. See this article from Microsoft: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Improve-performance-by-defragmenting-your-hard-disk

Posted by:

21 Oct 2011

I have been using a computer, since Sept. 1996. Needless to say, I have been guilty of not using all 5 must-dos, at one time or another. This is how you learn. Sometimes, it takes hard learn lessons on how to get your computer back into working order, to gain common sense.

2011, I now do ALL 5!!! Must admit, I learn fairly quickly, since, it has been years where I have been 'caught' doing something stupid.

Even, the computer illiterates in my house, my husband and grand kids have learned to get me, when something 'pops up'. They know NOT to click on it. Most times, it is something simple, but, once in awhile, it is Malware or worse.

Bottom line, both of my computers in my household are in good working order 24/7. I do all 5, on both computers, routinely.

Posted by:

Rea Laiblin
22 Oct 2011

I have an external hard drive, but it's not formatted for NTFS. I wanted to create an image of my hd on it, per Windows 7 Backup screen, but got the message that it couldn't be used for the image because it's not formatted for NTFS. If I were to format it for NTFS, would I lose everything that's backed up on it now?

Posted by:

02 Apr 2013

With my jaw wide open you got me good for a minute, glad I don't have a pacemaker.

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