Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Checklist For Computer Ownership

Got A Computer? Top 10 Things You Should Do

The plague of Internet rogue antivirus has me super busy (again) and so today I am re-posting an article which aggregates what I believe are the most important computer tips into a single checklist…a “Top 10″ list. Click on the blue links to get more instructions on the topic.

There are several things a PC owner should do to have a healthy, smooth-running computer, and be safer from cyber-criminals when they browse the Internet. Not surprisingly, I have covered these topics over the course of writing this six-days-a-week series of articles. So I thought I would put the more important ones into a single list — a “Top 10 List” — and provide direct links (blue text) to the articles which cover the How To steps of making these things happen… and provide you with a simple way to find out what you need to do, compared to what you’ve done already. In case you missed one, or two.

Tip of the day: Run down this list, and ask yourself, “have I done that?” to each one.

1) Install an antivirus, and keep it up-to-date (with the latest “definitions”). An “expired” antivirus is next to no antivirus at all.
To read my articles on malware, click here. To see a list of links to free antivirus programs, click here. To read my article on how to configure your antivirus for maximum protection, click here.

2) Install two anti-spyware apps, with one having “active” shielding.
To read all my articles which discuss spyware, click here. To see a list of links to free anti-spyware programs, click here.

3) Install a 3rd Party firewall OR turn on the Widows Firewall.
* If you have a home router or Wireless AP, make sure its firewall is enabled (NAT).

4) Enable Automatic Updates from Microsoft (and either set it to automatically install [for the non-geeky] or to prompt for install [for the hands-on type]) and set your programs to “automatically check for updates”.
And then actually click on the “Install” button when told there are updates available.. and please, do not tell them to “go away, you’re busy.”
[note: you should keep all the programs on your computer updated, and gladly accept the install prompts. Also, visit Secunia’s free to check your system for missing patches, and out-of-date (read “vulnerable”) scanner]

5) Password protect your User Accounts. (see #8)

6) Make a (monthly) system backup.. or at least a “files and settings” backup.. and store a copy — on two different types of media — someplace other than your hard drive.
To read all my articles on backups, click here.

7) Upgrade to IE 8 and/or an “alternative” Web browser (like Firefox, Opera, or Avant). Click here to read my articles on browsers and browsing.

8: Use strong (and complex) passwords. Everywhere. And change them every so often.

9) “Optimize” your hard drive. Sometimes you’ll hear this referred to as “file system maintenance”; basically it means to clean old files and ‘build up’ and “defrag” your machine for faster performance.

10) Tell Windows to show file extensions.

* (Windows XP/older):
– Use the NTFS file system, and disable Simple File Sharing.
Rename the Administrator account.

* (Laptops) Encrypt your hard drive.

There is more you can do to optimize your PC (of course) and the odds are good that I have told you the steps in a prior article, as I’ve written over 900 1,100 of them– so far, and I invite you type the word “optimize” into my Search box and see what comes up.

I hope this find-it-in-one-spot review of basic PC advice has been helpful to you.

Today’s free download(s): By clicking the links above, you will see all the previously posted downloads, of which there are many. And, also, there are links to more free links in no’s 1 and 2 above.

* Bonus: And for those of you lucky folks who have a brand new PC… Whenever you buy a new computer, it will come preloaded with all sorts of trialware (as it’s called) that most of us don’t want. If you have just purchased a new PC, download and run the wonderful PC Decrapifier and clean off that *stuff*.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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September 1, 2010 - Posted by | computers


  1. Hi Paul—this is a great checklist to help protect your computer from cyber criminals. Is there a particular reason that you suggest installing two anti-spyware applications? I’ve found that having too many of these applications running at once has caused my computer to crash.


    Comment by TuneUp | September 8, 2010 | Reply

    • TuneUp,
      When I post that, I do emphasize that only one of the anti-Spywares should have heuristics enabled (sometimes called “active shield”), and the second one be in ‘passive mode’ (manually launched and run) — as having two “active” modes going can/will cause them to “step on each other”, and reduce their efficacy .. or cause conflicts (which can cause crashes).

      Why two? That fact is, no one anti-spyware application is 100% effective at stopping and removing spyware. There are many anti-spyware programs available and some are more effective than others. Some are great at stopping keyloggers but fall down when it comes to Trojan Horses, and others are visa-versa…as an example. So I recommend running two anti-spywares, in the hopes that one will catch what the other missed.


      Comment by techpaul | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thank you very much my friend, you are very kind in sharing this useful information with others…. The details were such a blessing, thanks.


    Comment by Donita Rose | September 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Donita Rose,
      Thank you for your support.


      Comment by techpaul | October 1, 2010 | Reply

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