Essential Tips for Keeping Your Computer Secure

Tech August 7, 2015

If you don’t have a degree in anything related to computers, chances are, your idea of computer security ends with having a good anti-virus on your machine. Now, while having something to fend off viruses is always good, there is so much more you can do to secure your data and prolong your computer’s life.

But I’m not talking about all the ultra-technical stuff that only IT professionals would understand. What I am going to teach you today are things that us mere mortals can (and should) do. Let’s jump right in!

Back it Up

“Backup Stacks” by Jaymis Loveday on Flickr

When was the last time you backed up your files? Most people don’t realize just how easily they can lose important data. Let us count the ways:

  • Virus attacks
  • Machine failure
  • Accidental deletion
  • Theft
  • Natural disasters
  • Lost access to password-protected directories
  • Software failure
  • Bugs

The problem can easily be solved by investing in an external hard drive (or even just blank DVDs) and saving a backup copy of all your files. It’s not even difficult to do because most modern machines allow you to schedule automatic backups. Just set it up and your computer takes care of the rest.

Don’t Click on That

“secure-your-credit-card scam email” by Sandy Kemsley on Flickr

It’s 2015—and we are still clicking on virus-infested links. To be fair, some of them use really tempting headlines or reach you via a loved one’s email or social media account. But there’s a simple way to solve this problem: don’t click on a link if you don’t know where it leads or if the offer sounds too good to be true. And if it’s from someone you know, send them a message first to confirm if they did send it.

What Are You Installing?

“Installing iLife 06” by Luke Dorny on Flickr

It is common for software (especially the free ones) to come bundled with a lot of other programs that you don’t really need. Unfortunately, it also seems common practice for us to just keep hitting “Next” whenever we install anything on our computers. This opens us up to all sorts of malicious software like spyware, adware and viruses. And even if the bundled programs are clean, they still use up memory and storage space that we could use for other more important things.

The solution? Choose to do custom installations whenever you can since they allow you to select just the components that you want.

Password-Protect It

“Incorrect Passwords” by Lulu Hoeller on Flickr

And please use strong passwords. I wrote a guide here if you wish to know more.

Password-protecting your system and important files is like installing locks on your doors to prevent unwanted entry. There’s just no reason not to do it.

Get Backup Power Too

“APC CS 350” by Pierre Gorissen on Flickr

Power used to fluctuate a lot in my area—and I lost a hard drive because of it. It’s a good thing I had a backup of all my files. But still, it could have been prevented had I invested in a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). Turns out, hard drives don’t like to be turned off and on again repeatedly, especially if it’s just for a couple of seconds.

A good UPS would give you more than enough time to save all your work and shut down your computer properly in the event of power failures. Not only will this prolong the life of your machine, it will also save you from having to redo all the unsaved work you’ve done before the power went out.

If you know of any other simple computer security tips, please share them with us in the comments!

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