Rios Computer Associates

8 Steps to a Healthy Computer

Computer hygiene is important, but the paid-for protection programs are often worse than the ones you can get for free.  We have solved a lot of our clients' computer problems by removing Norton/Symantec programs.

This is what we have each of our clients do to prevent malware; we recommend once a week, but even once a month would do for most folks.  Once installed, and you are familiar with it, it takes 3-5 minutes each time.

1.  Delete temporary internet files.

2.  Delete the contents of the Temp folder for each user, as well as the Windows Temp folder.

3.  Install Windows Defender; check to see if it is working properly each week. (Vista has this pre-installed.) 

4.  Install Spybot; run weekly, delete/fix anything it finds.

5.  Install Ad-Aware; run weekly, & delete/fix anything it finds. (I prefer the "older" version, but the latest one is available here.)

6.  Install AVG-Free; check to see if it is working properly each week. 

7.  Run Microsoft Update (run Windows Update and upgrade to Microsoft Update); select "Custom", and install all updates from all three categories:  High Priority; Software, Optional; and Hardware, Optional.

8.  Run msconfig.com (Click Start, Run; type "msconfig").  Make sure that no new programs have been added to your start-up routine—or if they have, you know what they are and why they are there.

We have a folder already set up to make all this simple for our clients, with shortcuts to everything they need to do.  We also provide detailed, click-by click instructions for each step. 

All these programs are free, and don't require subscription payments of any kind.  Several of them have paid versions, but there is no reason to get those paid versions.

We also recommend two free programs that you only have to run once. These are from Gibson Labs, and they close security holes that exist on many systems. The two are:

Shoot the Messenger

Unplug 'n' Pray

 

8 Steps to a Healthy Computer

Computer hygiene is important, but the paid-for protection programs are often worse than the ones you can get for free.  We have solved a lot of our clients' computer problems by removing Norton/Symantec programs.

Click here to read more.

Macs & Viruses

Have you been told that buying a Mac will avoid problems with viruses? That can be a good temporary solution—until a lot of folks start buying Macs.

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Choosing Secure Passwords

A word about passwords: lots of people tell you to create screwy-looking passwords with uPPer and LowER case and all kinds of strange symbols in them. It turns out that this is bad advice...

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Chain Letters

Almost all messages that you get telling you to 'Forward this to all your friends' are hoaxes. Here are some ways to determine whether you should pass it on or hit 'Delete'.

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Choosing a Laptop

The best approach that I have found in deciding what sort of computer to purchase is to identify the things that are most likely to matter to someone and narrow the search from there.

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Avoiding Malware Sites

The bad guys seem to have an unlimited number of ways to trick people and avoid detection. Do you know how to protect yourself from malicious websites?

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Web Hosting & Authoring

There are lots of places that will host you for just a few bucks a month. The critical question is not cost, but reliability and support.

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Choosing a Credit Card

Regardless of which computer you get, most extended warranties aren't worth the money. But how you pay for the computer matters a lot...

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Affordable Office Suites

Microsoft has dominated the office software market with Microsoft Office, but their software package can be expensive for personal use. Did you know that there are cheaper or free alternatives?

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Videocams & Farsightedness

Comfortable reading is all but impossible when you're farsighted, and computerized magnifers are expensive. Luckily, there is a way to get a cheap makeshift magnifier that works better than the real thing!

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Working with PDF Files

Going backwards from PDF to text is usually somewhat messy, but not impossible. Here are some methods to convert your PDF documents into more accesible formats...

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InfoSelect

The most important program I have, except maybe email, is my Personal Information Manager: InfoSelect.

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Reinstalling Microsoft Office

If your computer on which you have Microsoft Office installed dies, you don't need to buy a new copy; the license for Microsoft Office is transferable. You just need the original CD and the Product Key to install it just as you did originally.

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IMAP: Pros and Cons

IMAP is one of two commonly-used email protocols. I've heard lots of wonderful things about IMAP, but in real life, I have found it has its own share of drawbacks...

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Recovering Data From Failed Hard Drives

In more than 90% of cases of hard drive failure the data is retrievable, but the method used depends on the type of failure. A hard drive can 'die' for several reasons...

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Rios Computer Associates • 930 N Arlington Mill Drive • Arlington • VA • 22205 • 703-536-9190 • service@rios.org