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10 New Year's Resolutions Your Computer Wishes You Would Keep

Keep these computer resolutions for the new year and keep your computer happy :-)

I resolve to backup my data on a regular basis.

As I always say, backup, backup, backup your data. Did I mention backing up your data? This could be the single most important thing you could do for your computer this year. With the many things that can cause your hard drive to fail (age, power surges, accidents, etc...) you should be already backing up. All of your images, documents, music... everything. Even if you just purchase an external hard drive and backup to it on a weekly basis, that is better than nothing. There are other backup solutions, of course, and some work much better and some are less effective. If you are unsure, check with your local computer expert for a review of your backup system.

I resolve to clean more this year.

Get the junk out! Over time, as you use your computer, it will collect junk including different files, websites and other things you don't need to hold on to. Make sure you clean out this digital junk drawer from time to time.

To do this, open Windows Explorer, right-click your hard drive and select 'Properties' from the drop-down list. Click the 'Disk Cleanup' button and after a quick check of your system, you'll see how much space you can save by deleting temporary files, junk in the Recycle Bin, and other things. If you would like to remove these files, put a check mark in each box and click 'OK' to clean it up!

I will stay on top of things and stay current this year.

Get up to date! Windows software needs updates from time to time to fix problems and security flaws that are found. Microsoft usually releases patches for the operating system and programs on the second Tuesday of every month. Make sure you are doing your updates regularly. You can even schedule automatic updates by going into your control panel and clicking on the “Windows Update” icon.

You will also want to keep your other programs up to date as well. Usually each of these programs has a way to check for updates and download them manually. The three big ones that I would recommend checking right now are Adobe Reader, Java, and your anti-virus software.

I resolve to be more organized this year.

Filing 101. When saving data on your computer such as pictures or documents or your tax files, don’t just save them anywhere on your computer in hopes that you will come back later and sort them. Save them in organized files (usually under 'My Documents') right away. Many people save them on the desktop and never move them. This can cause your computer to run slower and make data backup and recovery harder. Just do it right the first time :-)

I resolve not to be a scatter brain this year.

Put everything in its place. While it is not recommended to run a defragmentation program all the time, running it once a year is not a bad idea. This will take files that belong together and put them next to each other instead of leaving them spaced out all over your computer's hard drive. This will improve performance on your machine and save wear and tear on your hard drive. To defrag your hard drive, open Windows Explorer, right-click your hard drive(s), select 'Properties', click on the 'Tools' tab and then click the 'Defragment Now' button. Be prepared to not use your computer for a while (up to a few hours).

I promise myself that I won't trust e-mail.

Let's be honest, you have opened that e-mail you thought was questionable and just by luck, you didn't cause your computer to crash. But did you download a virus or a keylogger that records all your keystrokes and sends them to someone else? If you are even the least bit hesitant to open that e-mail... don't do it. You can call or send a separate note to the sender to find out if it is legit or not. Also, having a spam blocker solution on your e-mail will reduce many of these problems.

I resolve not to rely only on my anti-virus program to keep my computer safe.

As mentioned in step 3, you need to keep your operating system files and other programs updated (including your anti virus). However, that is not all! You also need to have anti-spyware software. This software scans for and removes unwanted programs that your anti-virus may miss. It is recommended that you run this twice a month, if not more. Some of the programs we like include Super Anti-Spyware and Malwarebytes. There is a paid and a free version of both of these programs. There are many different anti-spyware programs out there, but you can do some research on the Internet and find which one works best for you. Unlike anti-virus software, you can run multiple anti-spyware programs (unless they slow your computer down). Install the software and put it on your calendar to run it at least 2 times a month.

I promise not to add stress to the situation. I will stay cool.

Your computer could be working twice as hard as it needs to be simply because you have never cleaned it. I am not talking about the software on the computer, I am talking about the computer itself. Most laptops have fans that exhaust on the bottom of the laptop and desktops have fans that whisk away heat from vital computer components. You need to make sure that the vents and fans are clear of dust and debris in order for the computer to operate correctly. Heat can quickly kill a computer and burn out components. With a desktop computer, you can actually remove the side (when the computer is off of course) and look at the fans and the cooling system. If you notice a collection of dust or anything that would cause the fan not to work, you can spray it out with a can of compressed air, and then vacuum it out with a plastic tipped vacuum attachment.

I will work on the keys to success!

After a year (or more) of using our computers for everything under the sun, they can collect quite a bit of residue. Go over the keys with a light cleaner and use a small duster or vacuum to get out the 'gunk' between the keys.

I resolve to stop to smell the roses.

Seriously, got out and smell some flowers, and say hello to other humans. Don't spend hours upon hours on Facebook. The first U.S. Rehab center for Internet Addiction opened its doors in August of 2009. Who would have thought we needed something like this? Give your eyes and your body a break from sitting in front of the computer and go for a walk. Make sure you still have a non-digital life and make it a priority.

 

Follow these steps to keep yourself and your computer firing on all cylinders this year. I hope all of my readers and all of our customers find health, happiness and prosperity in this new year!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gillian Talwar January 18, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Experts recommend disabling Java altogether due to its vulnerabilities. See e.g. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/01/14/java_zero_day_exploit_don_t_patch_just_disable_java_in_your_browser.html
Doug Pettigrew January 18, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Thanks for pointing this out. While the thought is to disable Java all together, this doesn't work for a lot of people. We have found that our customers have a hard time with some of the features of their banking websites as well as other sites if Java is turned off. We have been talking about this with our fans on our facebook page for a week or so. http://www.facebook.com/ElectronicBrainSolutions Again, thanks for reading and for your reply!
Doug Pettigrew January 20, 2013 at 06:22 PM
For those who want to disable Java and see if they have any issues, here is an easy way to do it. http://www.infoworld.com/t/web-browsers/how-disable-java-in-your-browsers-210882 If this causes you to have any issues accessing your sites, you can just reverse the steps and go back to having Java.

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