Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Be a proactive Windows user

I am regularly called to a scene to recover a failed Windows operating system or repair one that is right on the edge of failure. The common denominator in most of these cases is usually a user that professes little or no working knowledge of their computer. While I admit that without the uninformed user I have no business, can’t we agree that Windows users need to take more of a proactive stance with maintaining their computers? I’ve included a few common sense things that users seem to ignore that can help prevent from having a Windows meltdown.

Make sure that your Antivirus definitions are not out of date. Don’t simply rely on Norton to do the job without any intervention. Do a little Google searching and you’ll find that Norton’s update many times malfunctions and users go days or months without even knowing that they have no antivirus definition updates. Hope that your Antivirus is doing the job but check once a week to make sure it is. The longer that virus sits on your PC, the more likely you’ll have an uncoverable system. If money is issue, use AVG Antivirus ( It’s free for personal use and that means you can load it on all of your computers at home.

Do a little house cleaning in add/remove programs on a monthly basis. This might sound weird but you might be surprised to find how many toolbars you have on your system from loading spyware ridden programs from the internet. The most I’ve seen on one computer has been eight so far but with every program including some kind of toolbar I imagine that number will go up. I would think it reasonable that you may need two toolbars at the most but more than likely only one if you even know its there.

That leads me to the next suggestion of being more aware of what you are installing on your PC especially if the source is from the internet. Even what you might think to be your most trusted programs such as AIM have their share of additional programs that load down on your PC if you’re not paying attention. Try to make sure you read through everything during the install process or you might find yourself with twenty toolbars running on your system at one time bogging you down.

Run Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter on a monthly basis. If you’ve never done it, a run through of one or both can make a big performance difference. Temporary files in general on your system usually are not a good thing when space is an issue. Fragmented files can lead to system failure. Both of these issues can easily be remedied by running those tools on a monthly basis at the very least.

Most problems can be avoided by creating user accounts with restricted privileges on certain accounts. The computers I’ve diagnosed with the least issues seem to be those that have security levels on the PC. This is very useful in houses with families that have children as unattended users on the PC. In general, it has been shown that restricted access seems to be a good thing across the board and is why it’s implemented in the workplace. The idea is not to protect them but to protect you from yourself. By creating different levels of users, it is not as easy to accidentally install unwanted software or delete/modify system files required for Windows to run.

These different items that I mentioned above can help to prevent you from paying more than the computer is worth to fix in some cases. It is not unreasonable to expect or want a Windows user to be more proactive with maintaining their PC. It is a price of equipment that you use on a daily basis that you invested in. If you don’t maintain your car, it dies. If you don’t repair your roof, it leaks. It’s reasonable to assume that a computer will need the same kind of attention. Simple precautions can lead to a long happy life with your computing experience.


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