Why doesn't my computer just work?

That's the million dollar question and there can be nearly as many reasons.  That said, any problem can be resolved although the resolution may result in data loss and added expense.

The focus of this article is to introduce you to a practice in which you can protect your computer and aid in the prevention of having these issues.  

SECURITY UPDATES

Regardless to the personal value of the data on your computer, there are frequent updates designed to protect you from newly identified security threats.  Security issues aren't the only reason for updates (there are some for performance, compatibility, etc.) but security is the most common reason for them.  

You may think that nobody would want what’s on your computer and you may be right; Rest assured however, that there are people out there that want what’s in your wallet.  To protect yourself, you should keep your security updates up-to-date.  Doing so will prevent your computer from being vulnerable to known threats.

This is not as easy as just saying “yes” when you are prompted to complete an update.  First, there are sites which prompt you to install a Flash update or installation (for example) to be able to view their content, when in fact, the prompt you receive is bogus and if you choose to install it, it will install malware on your computer.  Only download updates from within the manufacturers program (to update Flash, you would open it from your Control Panel and select Advanced/Check Now, or go to their website to download the update).  Next, when you install these updates, you may be prompted to install a new toolbar, or browser.  If you don’t change the settings, these will install by default and it has been my experience that these installations are not a value to you as they degrade performance, or change your settings which adds confusion and frustration.

You should review Windows Updates and other applications to be sure they are updating properly.

ANTI-VIRUS / ANTI-MALWARE

The terms anti-virus and anti-malware are really the same thing.  Years ago, the big threats were computer viruses but as time moves on, there are new threats such as worms, ransom-ware, spyware, adware and botnets to name a few. Malware is a term that encompasses these new threats as well as viruses.  

This does not mean that if you purchase an anti-malware subscription that you are automatically covered for viruses and similarly anti-virus software does not necessarily protect you against malware.  Each software manufacturer’s product behaves similarly but the performance difference can be significant.

You need a good product which will aid in protecting your computer against threats which you might receive in an email, or on the web.  

This protection does not end with purchasing the program.  You may need to customize the settings to be able to complete activities which previously were uninhibited.  You should also review it from time to time to be sure that it is operating and that you have renewed your subscription as necessary to keep the signature files updated (they typically update several times a day).

WEB PROTECTION

It’s all about layers of protection.  We have talked about the security updates to protect the operating system and applications, then we talked about anti-virus/anti-malware to protect new files from infecting your computer, now we are talking about protecting you from sites on the internet which are known to be malicious.  This protection will automatically block sites which are known to be malicious so you can’t be infected by them. 

Also, depending on the program, you may be able to limit access to some sites which you may not want anyone accessing from your computer (gambling, drugs, porn, etc.). 

Along with web protection, you may also want to consider using OpenDNS.org, an organization from which your computer will perform its DNS lookups.  Within OpenDNS.org, you are able to customize settings which will automatically block access to sites based on categories (similar to above).

LEAVE YOUR COMPUTER RUNNING

I dislike suggesting this from the standpoint of electricity consumption, but leaving your computer running allows scans, services, updates and system restarts to complete while the computer is idle so that when you go to use your computer, it’s ready to roll.  

You should also reboot your computer periodically (weekly).  This releases memory and resolves other issues which may occur.

MANAGED SERVICES

If you are among the group of people who just wants your computer to work, or the maintenance is more than you want to take on, then you may want to consider a Managed Service Provider (MSP) such as Maine Web Service.  

As an MSP, we attend to the security updates making sure they are installed properly and timely.  Anti-virus/anti-malware and web protection are all included as part of the service.  As a managed service customer, you also get the benefit of virus removal (up to one hour at no charge) should be become infected.  In addition to these services, several checks are completed on your computer each day to validate that it is performing as it should and services are running properly.  We can also configure routine tasks to be completed at a particular time of day (or night) such as clearing your browser cache, temp files and rebooting your computer.  Further, if you need assistance, we are available to assist you remotely saving you a trip to deliver your computer or paying a travel surcharge.  

The objective of the service is to provide the home or small business user with a positive computing experience by maintaining the computer to prevent problems from occurring.  It’s like having your own IT department.
If you would like more information about the services available and the pricing.  Contact us today