Tips to Maintaining a Healthy System

Keep Windows and applications updated

You can find Windows Update in the Control Panel. Depending on your version of Windows, choose "on" under "Automatic Updates" or "Install updates automatically" under "Change Settings"  to enable automatic updates for all your computers and you will always have the latest drivers, software updates, and security updates for your system. Here you'll find more information about how to keep your computer up-to-date and how to configure Windows Update.

In addition, configure your non-Microsoft applications to also update automatically. You are usually prompted during installation if you want to enable this feature. Many applications allow you to enable this after installation through the "options" or "settings" menu option. Many also include an option to update manually by clicking on "Help" menu option and selecting "Check for Update" menu item.

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Use Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials is available as a free download for XP, Vista and Windows 7. You can access Once installed, you can access Microsoft Security Essentials through the Start menu. They both offer protection against malicious and unwanted software, allows you to scan your PC for threats, and lets you check for updates automatically or manually. To keep your system as healthy as possible, make sure it is enabled and configured to check for updates automatically.

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Keep antivirus software updated

No matter what operating system you use, it's imperative that you install, configure, and update antivirus software. Make sure you use a program, free or paid, that protects against malware, phishing, and adware. One way to check if your antivirus software is up-to-date is to open the Security Center in the Control Panel. Both Windows Vista and Windows XP offer a Security Center, and both will warn you if your computer security is compromised. For Windows 7, you'll need to open Action Center and check the Security section. This section will warn you if you do not have antivirus software installed or enabled..

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Use Windows Firewall

Windows ships with Windows Firewall. As with other security features in Windows XP and Vista, Windows Firewall is available in the Control Panel's Security Center options. In Windows 7, it has it's own section in Control Panel. A firewall protects your network by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access through a network or the Internet. A firewall is different from antivirus software, and is not a replacement for it. However, Windows Firewall and antivirus software work together to help protect your computer and network. For more information, read the article Understanding Windows Firewall.

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Configure browser security settings

Internet Explorer offers many features that will help you keep your system healthy. Two such features are the Pop-Up Blocker and the Phishing Filter. Make sure both are enabled by clicking the "Tools" menu from the Internet Explorer interface. Internet Explorer ships with Windows, but make sure you are using the latest non beta release found here.

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Backup your data

Windows offers the Windows Backup and Restore Center, where you can create and configure automatic backups of the data on your computers. Windows Backup and Restore Center will remember to perform the backups you need, so you don't have to remember to do it yourself. You can back up your files to an internal or external hard drive, CD or DVD, or to a network location.

If you're using windows XP, you also have a backup option. You can use the built-in Backup Utility to help you make copies of files, settings, or everything on your computer. For more information about the Windows XP Backup Utility, including how to use it, refer to this article.

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Prevent other users from downloading malware by using Parental Controls on shared computers.

Configure and manage what your children or others do while at the computer with Parental Controls. You can prevent others from playing specific, or all, games, set limits for Internet use, and keep others from running specific programs. You'll must create an account for the other users first, and then apply Parental Controls. Parental Controls helps keep your system safe by not allowing others to harm the computer with Internet downloads, games from companies you don't trust, or malicious software.

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Protect your computer from unwanted downloads.

User Account Control improves the safety and security of your computer by preventing potentially dangerous software from making changes to your computer without your explicit consent. When software is deemed potentially dangerous, you are prompted to allow the software to run by inputting an administrator name and password. This helps keep your system healthy by incorporating the operating system, Windows Defender, and Internet Explorer, and helps reduce the impact of viruses, spyware, and other threats.

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Take care of your hardware.

In addition to securing  your operating system (software), you  also need to take care of your your hardware. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep pets off your PCs , keyboards, keyboards, modems, printers and peripherals.
  • Do not place PC on the floor
  • Avoid smoking around computer equipment.
  • Make sure all equipment has proper ventilation/air flow.
  • Make sure cables are not crimped or snagged by chair or desk legs.
  • Repair or replace damaged cables and connectors, including power cords.
  • Make sure power strips and outlets are not overloaded.
  • Use a surge protector and ensure it is operating properly.
  • Minimize shut downs and reboots by configuring PC, using the "Power Settings" option in Control panel, to go to sleep when not being used.
  • Clean dust from inside and around computer every six month. Be careful to not allow fans to spin freely when using compressed air as they can be damaged.
  • Shutdown computers before moving them

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