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Six Easy Ways to Protect Your New Computer

by: Smith and Howard

February 9, 2016

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Perhaps you’re thinking of purchasing a new computer with your tax refund? This can be an exciting purchase, but it can also go very poorly if you don’t take the right precautionary steps to ensure your computer’s safety. Before you rip open the box and boot up your new machine, there are a few steps you can take to prevent against your computer acting up. Read our six tips to make sure your computer can live it’s happiest and healthiest life. 

1. Create an Image (or Snapshot)

Most computers do not come equipped with a large host of features right out of the box. They usually have a base platform that allows the computer to operate in the way that you desire, but there isn’t much else there. This is the perfect time to create a backup image of your virus-free computer.

Creating an image allows you to preserve your computer in its original state by creating a backup copy of your system for future use. In the event that your software becomes corrupted or you have a need to begin from scratch, you will be able to start over with a clean slate. Having an image of your system will save you a good amount of money and time in the event that something goes wrong with your computer. Both Windows and MAC have back-up capabilities built in to the systems.

2. Secure Your User Profile

A password used in conjunction with a username helps protect your sensitive or personal files from unauthorized access. Use a password that is at least 8 characters in length and contains a mixture of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and non-alpha numeric characters. Avoid using any consecutive numbers and any personal data in your password.  Be sure to change your password every few months.

Also, for your daily use, consider using a user profile that has limited rights. When malware infects a computer it usual runs using the rights of the logged in user. Using a limited user profile will help minimize the impact that malware will have on your system. Only use the Administrator account when you need to install new software.  

3. Install and Run Antivirus Software

The first thing you should ever install on a new computer is antivirus software. Many computers that are produced by larger manufacturers will come pre-installed with antivirus software. If this is the case, be sure to run the provided program and have it complete a full scan of your computer. Once the scan is complete, make sure you set up the program to update regularly and scan your computer daily for harmful files. This will help keep your computer clean and help prevent any data loss due to unwanted malware.

If your computer does not come with an antiviruss program preinstalled, be sure to install software from a reputable source. Having this software in place will keep your computer running smoothly and save you countless hours of trouble in the future.

4. Back Up Your Data

Your computer may be running fine right now, but should it struggle in the future, you will not want to lose all of the files, documents, email, and other forms of data that you have accumulated over the years. The best way to keep your data safe is to set up a regular back-up schedule. Most operating systems come preloaded with an automatic back-up assistant that will easily allow you to keep your data safe. Make sure you have your computer backed up on a regular schedule so that, in the event your computer experiences problems, your data will be safe.

The best place to store backup data is on an external hard drive or a trusted remote off-site location. Your computer’s internal drive may be convenient and cost-efficient, but if your data is important to you, an external solution is the best way to go. There are a number of cloud storage providers, with good security track records, that have tools which will automate backing your data up to their off-site location (cloud). Based on the amount of data that you store with them, you may qualify for their free tier. No matter which solution you choose, be sure that your data is password protected and encrypted. 

5. Update Your Software

Software packages such as Windows, Java, Flash and web browsers are constantly being updated to address newly found security flaws. Hackers heavily rely on outdated software to gain access to your computer and personal information. Being proactive about securing your computer’s software is critical to staying safe.

6. Browse Smart

Be intelligent about where you visit online. Do not fall into the trap of mindlessly roaming from link to link hoping that you won’t stumble across a malicious site. Exercise caution and use discretion. If a site looks suspicious, it probably is! Antivirus software is extremely helpful, but it can’t stop everything. The more websites you visit that contain viruses the more susceptible your security system will be. Sooner or later, something will get through. Be intelligent about where you are visiting and what you are downloading!

Purchasing a new computer is an exciting and fun experience. However, new computers are most at risk and vulnerable to attack the minute they leave the packaging, which is why you must take the proper steps to secure your machine if you want the experience to be frustration free.

For more information, please contact Courtney Edwards at 404.874.6244 or simply fill out our form below.

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