I have been working with Windows for years and fixing my friend’s computers. Here are some tips and tricks that you can do yourself. These tutorials cover Microsoft Windows 7, but work for older versions of Windows as well. The menus may be a little different. Although with a little looking around the systems are basically the same. All my tips and tricks are basic stuff. If you follow each step carefully your system will be fine unless there is another cause deep in your system such as a virus. I am offering you tips that I follow and advice that I give everyone that I do repairs for. I am not a Certified Microsoft Technician. I am just a guy with a knack for computers that tips and advice that has always worked for me and my friends. I only work on my friend’s computers since I have a full time job. You system configuration should not make a difference but consult a professional if you are in doubt. Follow at your own risk. These are unofficial guides, however they have done me well over the years and I hope that they help you.
Basic Tips and Advice:
- One of the most important is to always keep a backup of your files. There is nothing wrong with having a backup of the backup either. I always back my files up on an external hard drive and then back them up again on compact disk.
- Whenever you get a new computer system. Open up the package that contains your computer’s software, take out the Windows Operating System disk, and guard it with your life. A lot of people that I help lose that disk and if you ever need to reinstall your operating system you will be screwed if you lose it and have to buy another one. It is important. Do not lose it.
- Update your copy of Windows on a regular basis. At least once a week. Every time I am called to look at a computer one of the issues is being caused is due to lack of updating.
- After about a year any computer is going to start getting slow. All the information that is saved on it is going to start bogging it down. I personally wipe my hard drive clean and reinstall Windows at this point to keep my system running efficiently. Some consider wiping a hard drive first is a bit extreme, but that is my personal preference.
- You may not decide to wipe your hard drive before reinstalling Windows. That is your preference. However, you should do a hard drive wipe before selling your system or disposing of a hard drive because even though you may have formatted it, information is still there and can be retrieved. Either wipe it or take a hammer to it. Good software for hard drive wiping can be found here. I use it and can completely vouch for it.
- The difference between formatting and wiping? Software works really hard to protect you. When you format a hard drive you are just deleting the partition that the software lives on. It will leave parts of itself in disbelief that you really want it gone. When you wipe your hard drive the wiping software such as DBAN will nuke everything from start to finish leaving you a like new, completely clean hard drive. It actually makes three passes over your hard drive to make sure all information is gone. Just so you know a 500 GB hard drive can take up to eight hours to wipe so planning ahead is a must if you are going to perform a wipe.
I am not here to tell you what to do with your computer. That is certainly your business. I would like to point out some things about pirated software and general virus avoidance for your general knowledge.
- I do not recommend using a pirated copy of any operating system period! The bottom line here is that if you are using a pirated copy of an operating system you will not be able to update the software. As you read above, updating your operating system is a necessity. On top of that pirated software is where a lot of viruses live. If you want a free operating system, I suggest that you learn how to use one of the many versions of Linux which is completely free, legal, and open source. Here are a few that are very reputable although there is a learning curve to using Linux: Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, and Debian. Which one should you use? That will be a personal decision based on many factors. Google is your friend at that point, so do your research. Personally I use Ubuntu.
Before I list the following steps, I am not saying that if you follow them that you will never get a virus on your computer. These are basic steps that will help reduce your chances of getting a virus. Viruses harm your computer. I am sure you have heard of malware. Malware is spy software that is used by companies to track your buying, shopping, and searching that you do on your computer in order to aid them in their marketing strategies. The reason I bring malware up is because even though it does not harm your computer, it will slow your system down. That being the case I consider malware to be the same as a virus. Malware unfortunately more times than not gets installed on your system through legitimate software that you buy from the store. It is just a part of computing life.
- Email, which is getting pointless due to all the spam and marketing in our modern age. It is annoying to have to skim through 50 pointless emails to get to one that someone I know actually sent to me. The point is a lot of viruses come from those pointless emails. You will not get a virus just by clicking on the message, but if you download the attachment (if there is one), or click on a link inside one you will. If you do not know the sender, then do not open the message. I cannot not stress the next fact enough. Do not enter any personal information in a reply. Your bank or any legit company for that matter will send you an email directing you to log in to your actual account to update information. They will never ask you for a reply email with such information. There is a reason that you get so much spam in your inbox. Spam actually works over a 1,000 times a day stealing information from people. That is a lot of folks getting dooped.
- Pirated operating systems and software are a big source of viruses. If you download pirated software, music, movies, or games you will get a virus eventually. It is only a matter of time.
- External storage devices like hard drives, memory cards, thumb drives, or compact disks can be a common source of viruses. If you borrow one from a friend, scan it before using it. If you get your hands on external storage and do not know where it came from, scan it. Better to be safe than sorry.