Your Software Applications:
Tip 01: for maximum computer stability, help your computer run more quickly
How: try to ensure you have only one software application open at a time. If you do have a sufficient amount of RAM (see below under "General Recommendations"), the next best option is to only have open the applications you need. Close down any applications that are not relevant to the files that you're currently working with.
Tip 02: If you use any Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Outlook, Word, Access or Publisher ...
Ensure these can be updated automatically. More recent versions of Microsoft Windows and Office can, through default settings, ensure that key updates are installed in a timely way. If necessary, do turn on Microsoft and Windows updates.
Do remember, that any out of date software application offers a weak point of entry that can make a mockery of stronger security protections carried out elsewhere in the computer system.
Tip 03: Don't install software you don't need or use
Why waste your time and storage space on your hard drive, and risk creating another weak access point on your device if the software is not being maintained regularly? Only install software that you actively use.
Tip 04: uninstall any and all software applications you no longer require
Any software could offer weak point access to your device, especially if you don't upgrade to the latest versions.
Tip 05: To Help improve the stability and security of your PC
Whenever possible, upgrade to the latest version of each software application you do use. However, whenever a new version is available, I do recommend that you wait a while to ensure that most of the new bugs are fixed before you install your upgrade.
Your Computer Operating System:
Tip 06: If you use Microsoft Windows
You can help ensure you have the latest updates and patches installed automatically by turning on Windows Update. Later versions of Microsoft Windows should have Windows Update turned on by default. For older versions, More information is available at: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
Tip 07: Regularly Run Your Windows Disk Defragmenter Program If You're Using Microsoft Windows Operating System
Why: to better optimise your hard drive. For more information, look for the Help and Support command from your Windows Start button, then enter "Defragmenter" into the Help and Support Search box.
Defragmenting isn't usually required for Apple Mac computers running the most recent macOS operating system.
Tip 08: Use an Apple iPad
Consider investing in and switching to using an Apple iPad. Why: yes, you have the initial higher than average purchase cost for a tablet computer, but providing you don't "jailbreak" your Apple iPad, you have two big benefits:
- Generally higher Apple security built in, so unlike Android-based devices, at the time of writing, you probably don't need an additional security antivirus / anti-malware protection app, combined with ...
- The usually lower cost of app software compared to higher cost of PC-based software, means you'll save money. So while your iPad may cost more to buy than a Windows-based PC, your sofware costs tend to go down, so you can save money later.
Tip 09: Why not "Jailbreak" an Apple iPad?
Jailbreaking an iPad is the process of breaking your legal agreement with Apple, and overriding the Apple defaults to allow you to install apps from sources other than Apple Inc.
Apple have wisely chosen not to make all details about their devices public, so if there are any hidden security routines, these can help make for a more robust tablet computer security solution.
Without the need for antivirus and anti-malware software, an Apple iPad can run more safely, faster, with much less code bloat in comparison to an average PC.
This author understands that malware, viruses, bad stuff, etc., can only get into an iPad in two ways. Through the:
- Built in mobile Safari web browser, or ...
- Software apps.
To protect both of those areas:
- Firstly, Apple check every single app that is available from the Apple iStore, massively reducing the possibility of dangerous software ever getting installed onto your iPad. This smart step helps close a huge security hole present in other "open" smart phone and PC computer systems, that don't use a trusted third party to check the validity of software to be installed.
- Secondly, the mobile Safari web browser comes built into the Apple iPad default software as part of its operating system (IOS), providing the benefit of Apple quality hardware and software security routines also not made public.
In addition, an Apple iPad does not have a file structure similar to that of a PC, and so acts as a further barrier to help limit the spread of any infection.
However, if you choose to jailbreak an Apple iPad or iPhone, be mindful that you essentially remove the two powerful protections referred to above, and may overrule any otherwise built-in protection benefits that you're already paid for by purchasing an Apple device.
As far as I am aware, to-date, only iPads that have been jailbroken have experienced problems. Be warned: legal considerations aside, if you jailbreak an iPad, your device is then wide open to malware infection via email or through an app install.
Tip 10: Organize folders on your PC
In such a way that makes most logical sense to you. Aim to keep folder names as short as possible.
Avoid naming folders with names like: Bank, Credit Card, Accounts, Passwords, and so on. Why: to help add one more step to frustrate any attempts to access your private information if your device ever gets breached. Instead, consider using words and phrases that make sense to you. For example, for "Bank", you could use "Knab" ("Bank" backwards), or just "B".
Better still, don't openly store any information on your PC that should be secure. Consider the use of high encryption security software password programs but make sure first that you understand how to use them and their implications.
Tip 11: Store information Once, But Keep Encrypted Backups
To help prevent having multiple copies of the same document scattered around your PC, aim to have each piece of information present at only one location (excluding backups). Then, if you want to link to that information snippet from somewhere else, create a Windows shortcut.
However, for crucial information, having at least one more copy can be useful insurance.
Moreover, ideally encrypt your PC or Apple device, and use software or use a trusted service that makes regular, automatic encrypted backups for you (more below).
Tip 12: Keep only the information and items you need on your PC
Delete items you no longer require. Also remember: when using Microsoft Windows, items that are deleted to your Recycle Bin are not actually deleted until you empty your Recycle Bin.
Yet even when you delete a file, the file is still not truly deleted until the same storage space is thoroughly overwritten by new information, sometimes using several "write" cycles.
However, for storage space listing purposes, once a file is deleted from the Recycle bin, Microsoft Windows lists the space that file previously occupied as available to use (even if the original file contents is still present).
Tip 13: ensure that you back up all of your important files
Ideally, have a complete daily backup procedure in place. You may prefer to simply back up the entire PC to a second hard drive using a spare USB socket. That way, you can use a program like Acronis True Image Home to create an exact copy of your current PC hard drive, with the option to instantly restore your copy to another hard drive should the need ever arise.
Or, you may consider a cloud backup service like those provided by Dropbox.com, Box.com, Carbonite.com, etc., to be more convenient. Once a cloud backup service is started, whenever you make changes to any files monitored by your cloud backup service, the file updates are also uploaded to your cloud backup service copy.
In this way, you have a continuous backup of your computer files running in the background without you having to carry out any specific additional work.
Cloud backup services also help ensure that you have your data backed up to a different location to where you are currently staying, so you have built in "off-site backup" enabled.
If your data is especially valuable, you can also arrange to have your cloud service backup account, automatically backed up to a second, and even a third additional cloud service provider. That way, you have the added assurance of having two or three backups existing "in the cloud", in addition to the original "master" file copies on your PC.
However, you may consider that having multiple copies of your entire PC or Apple device stored in the cloud, can actually weaken your overall security.
A proven, effective solution is to always lock down your access to your cloud service providers using two-factor authentication login, using Google Authenticator, or other suitable tool.
That way, your login details change every 30 seconds. So even if your username and password are discovered, login to your cloud accounts is still not possible.
However, I suggest, avoid two-factor authentication methods that rely on mobile phone based text messages. Why: smart phone spoofing exists, so why take the risk?
Tip 14: If your computer has a cooling fan installed ...
Get into the habit of ensuring that you don't accidentally block up the air inlet and air outlet areas.
In addition, occasionally examine the inlet and outlet areas from the outside of your PC, and blow away any dust or possible cobweb build-up.
Why? A blocked or partially blocked cooling fan inlet can prevent normal cooling action, or put increased load on your cooling computer system: damage to your computer could result.
Also, dust situated inside electronic devices can be conductive, creating new, unintentional pathways for electronic signals that should not be present. Such dust pathways, can often resulting in weird effects, while at worst, cause your device to fail.
Dust is especially disruptive to high frequency electronic signals commonly found in Internet-enabled TVs, personal computers, notebooks, laptops, tablet devices, smartphones, printers, and broadband / DSP routers.
Ideally, for "first-try" quick results, use canned air designed for cleaning out electronic devices, and blow out dust by spaying in one vent and driving dust out of other vents.
Tip 15: While your computer is switched on, take great care when moving your PC If a spinning hard drive is installed
Why: if your computer hard drive uses a spinning disk that has a read / write head that is situated very close to the disk when powered up; any sudden jolt can cause the read / write head to scratch your computer hard drive.
In the worst case scenario: you can destroy a rotating hard disk this way in seconds. Therefore, for computers with spinning hard drives, simply don't move your device while it is switched on.
Computers that use the more recent solid state hard drives (SDDs) or Flash storage, however, do not suffer from this same potential problem, though treating all sensitive electronic devices gently, with care, away from ungrounded human hands, makes, good sense.
At the time of originally writing this article, this author had been using a Toshiba PC for 5 years without any hardware problems, so I can attest that these tips are valid. Update: from 2013, Apple Mac has been my preferred solution for computers at home and at work.
Tip 16: One of the most effective ways to speed up your computer
Is to add more RAM memory, if that option is available for your device. However, you'll need to use the correct type: discuss requirements with your computer parts supplier.
As an information publisher, you may use a variety of powerful software tools. Therefore ideally today, aim for at least 16Gb — 32Gb of RAM. If you're using demanding software applications, ideally have at least 64Gb of RAM installed.
Since Apple iPads have far less code bloat; iPad memory is preset and fixed for each model version, so upgrade options, other than complete replacement, are not to-date usually available.
Your Web Browser:
Tip 17: Regularly delete all temporary files and history files
How: example, In Microsoft Internet Explorer, open the Tools menu, choose the Internet Options command, select the General tab, then under "Temporary Internet Files", choose, "Delete Files" button. When promoted, choose "Delete all offline content", then choose the OK button. To delete history files, with the general tab still displayed, choose the "Clear History" button, choose Yes. To finish, choose the OK button.
Or you can use an application like CCleaner.
Tip 18: Reconsider whether you still need a PC-based email software application
A growing number of people now prefer to have a Google Gmail account, with 2-Step authentication turned on for even better security. That way, you only need to log into your Google Gmail account to check and respond to email.
So no need for a separate email program, faster response, less hassle, fewer security risks since Google cover a lot of testing in the background before your email gets to your account.
Your Email Program:
Often, you may not opt to use a dedicated email program stored on your device. Instead, you could use a remarkable online service like Google Gmail. This way, most of the key organisation of your email structure has already been done for you by Google. However, if you do decide to have your email own email program installed on your device, consider the tips below.
Tip 20: Organise your email folders in a logical manner
Set up rules to ensure email messages are automatically routed to the correct folder, when you download your email. Aim to clean your email box daily. Keep only items that you must have. You can save important email ezines to folders on your PC, or perhaps save them to .pdf format, then you can delete the original email message.
Tip 21: Aim to process, respond to, and delete all unwanted email as you can, before downloading.
You can do this by reading your email using Web mail before you use your email program to download essential items that remain.
If you use Google Gmail, up to free storage limits, Google will securely store your email history for you. Or you can expand your storage with a paid plan if you need more. In addition, you can download an entire archive copy of your email on demand through your Google account.
Tip 22: If You Have An Android Based Tablet Computer, Device, Or Smart Phone
The Android operating system allows for easy connection to Microsoft Windows-based PCs and other PCs.
That means, if you connect your device — either wirelessly or using wires — to a PC that may have malware installed, you can also infect your Android based device, if you don't have sufficient additional antivirus and anti-malware protection installed.
Three applications that can help protect Android devices include:
However, if you have an Apple device, even if you connect an infected Windows-based or Android-type device to your Apple device, you may discover that some PC- or Android-based malware has no affect on your Apple device.
Nevertheless, while an Apple device may be immune to some PC- or Android-based malware, you can still pass on such infections to other users that you may interact with online or via email.
So even if you're using one or more Apple devices, the best option is to do all you can to keep computer viruses and malware from infecting any of your devices. How: follow Apple guidelines and install strong Antivirus solutions like Bitdefender.