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Free Computer System Security Measures

Today, more and more people are using their computers for everything from communication to online banking and investing to searching. As we do these things on a more frequent basis, we open ourselves to prospective hackers, attackers and crackers.

While some may be hoping to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others intend to use your computer as a platform from which to attack other unknowing victims. Below are a few simple, cost-effective measures you can take to make your computer more secure.

1. Always make backups of important information and store it in a secure location away from your computer.

2. Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently. If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to windowsupdate.microsoft.com and running the update wizard. This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows operating system. Also go to officeupdate.microsoft.com to locate possible patches for your Microsoft Office programs.

3. Install a firewall. Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all access your computer from the Internet easily. Consideration should be given to the advantages and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

4. Check your browser and email settings for maximum security. Why should you do this? Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malevolent programs into your computer. While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they can still track your activities on the Internet to build a profile of you. As a minimum precaution, set your security setting for the ?Internet zone? to High, and your ?trusted sites zone? to Medium Low.

5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so that you receive the most current virus files.

6. Do not open unidentified email attachments. It is simply not sufficient that you may know the address from which it originates because many viruses can be spread from a familiar address.

7. Do not run software from unknown sources. What is more, do not send these kinds of programs to friends and coworkers because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes. They may contain a Trojan horse just waiting to infect a computer.

8. Disable hidden filename extensions. By default, the Windows operating system is set to ?hide file extensions for known file types?. Disable this preference so that file extensions show in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.

9. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer if you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off.

10. Make a boot disk on a floppy disk or CD in case your computer is damaged or infected by a malevolent program. Obviously, you need to take this precaution before you experience a hostile violation of your system security.

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How To Choose A Computer

It is far easier to buy your next computer than it is to purchase your first one, because those who’ve bought and operated a computer in the past already have an idea of what they require in a new computer, but those who are new to the computer world can easily become lost in the multitude of choices to be had.

The brief reply to “What should I buy?” is “the best”. Of course that response is very subjective because “the best” to one person is not going to be the best to another. Our description of “the best” is the fastest and with the largest memory, but even that can leave the computer newbie perplexed. Here’s a quick rundown of what the computer greenhorn should do and why.

1. Purchase a computer that includes all the fundamental components. Every computer arrangement can be broken down into four major components: CPU unit, screen, keyboard, and mouse. For the novice, it’s best to buy a computer that has all of these peripherals incorporated so that when it’s taken home, assembling the computer is a uncomplicated affair of plugging the bits in where they belong. Save the individual purchase of these peripherals to those who have more understanding.

2. Decide what you’ll use the computer for. If you want to use your computer for investigating the Internet, sending email, or performing straightforward word-processing or spreadsheet tasks, a computer with the basic components that we recently described plus a printer should suffice. If you want to use a computer to help with a career in multimedia however, you’re going to need to increase your system with maybe a scanner, digital camera, tablet, or digicam as well for example. If you want a computer to help with a career in music, you might require a good microphone and array of loud-speakers.

3. Make a budget and stick to it. How much can you afford to spend on a new computer? Even though the price of computers is decreasing, they can still be quite a hefty expenditure especially if you need supplementary components as discussed above. In addition, you’ll have to figure in overheads for Internet access, maintenance, servicing, and insurance.

4. Begin comparison shopping and look for the fastest and largest. By quickest and largest, we mean the computer with the quickest processor, the fastest modem, the largest memory, and the biggest hard drive capacity. Even if you consider that you’ll never require the amount of speed or space obtainable on the market today, it’s important to have in case that you really do need that much in the future. Having such a large reserve will cut down on costs when the time comes to upgrade.

5. Stay with the better-known makes. Venturing off the trodden path with lesser-known brands is again an adventure for those who have more familiarity with computers. Although those better-known brands might be a tad more costly, the computer greenhorn will be grateful for the comfort of purchasing a computer from a shop that has a long history of building quality products, and that has the funds on hand for fulfilling returns, trades, servicing, and guaranties.

6. Select a good store. Once you have an idea of what you want in a computer and what form of computer that you want, the only thing left to do is to select the place where you want to buy it. There are many places, which include computer stores, online stores, auction sites and used computer stores. For the computer greenhorn, we advocate buying a computer from a bricks-and-mortar store. In a bricks-and-mortar store, you have the chance to see the computer of interest itself and ask questions. New computer buyers will also have a store warranty, returns, trades, and services.

These recommendations should give the computer newcomer a helpful start in selecting a good computer for the first time and these suggestions apply to both Windows computers or Apple Macintosh computers. After making these decisions and finally choosing one that fits your needs, you can then venture into the spellbinding world of software – a world that is just as grand as the world of hardware!

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