Computer users need good habits
Behavioral experts say that one of the best ways to drop a bad habit is to replace it with a new good habit. If you have a computer that constantly acts up, you probably need to develop a few good tech habits.
Most computer problems aren't catastrophic, and you can fix them yourself. Upgrading to fancier software or shopping around for a new computer will cost you time and money.
Buying and installing extra RAM often fixes the dreaded Blue Screen of Death and other problems. Find out what kind of memory your computer takes with a free scanner. Installing new RAM is a breeze.
Cleaning out the clutter on your hard drive is another easy solution. Grab the free PC Decrapifier to remove trial programs and bloatware in a snap, then open up Duplicate Cleaner and CCleaner to clear out duplicate files and fix errors in your Windows registry.
When you have to buy a new computer or other piece of tech gear, watch out for the booby traps.
Extended warranties, for example, can add hundreds of dollars to the price of your purchase. They're usually bad investments, unless you're buying an expensive laptop.
You'll also save money by buying extra RAM and hard-drive upgrades and installing them yourself.
Far too many computer and gadget users don't bother to create passwords and leave their home wireless networks open for others to use. Or else they come up with passwords that are easy to hack, such as “password” and “123456.”
The trick to passwords is striking a balance between security and convenience. You want it strong and long enough to repel the bad guys. But you also don't want to spend 4 minutes tapping out a cryptic code every time you need to use it.
The best password is at least 8 characters long and contains a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
There are thousands of strains of viruses, worms and other malware circulating on the Internet. Running up-to-date security software on your computer is a top priority.
An unprotected Windows computer can pick up a file-erasing, information-stealing bug in under a minute.
Macs aren't immune to viruses, either, as last year's outbreak of the Flashback Trojan proved. That monster wreaked havoc on more than 600,000 Macs. Every computer you own should have an anti-virus program, a firewall and an antispyware program.
Another huge threat right now is security holes in Java, a programming language Web browsers use to run interactive content. When a vulnerable version of Java is active in a Web browser, visiting a compromised website is all it takes for crooks to give you malware.
In most cases, you won't even know your computer is compromised until it's too late. To stay safe, stop using Java — or stay on top of the upgrades and use Java a lot more guardedly.
Data loss isn't a question of if; it's a question of when. Your photos, songs, financial information, art projects and business presentations are on there. Paying a technician to recover information from a failed hard drive will cost you a bundle.
Backing up to an external drive is better than nothing. But external hard drives fail, too, and can be stolen.
Use a system that backs up to the cloud so it's safe from fire, theft and flood. You also want your backup made automatically. For both, I recommend Carbonite. Two other popular backup services are Mozy and Backblaze.
Email Kim Komando at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stakes high as ex-Saints receiver Moore faces his former team
- Steelers notebook: Injury to RT Gilbert opens door for Adams to start
- Weather-related accidents close Parkway West
- Police identify driver in North Side crash that killed pregnant woman
- Penguins GM prepares for emotional series against Carolina
- Allegheny County Council wants to hike members’ $3K expense accounts
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Penguins notebook: Winning home games crucial for Penguins
- Black Friday trends, tactics change, but Americans still love bargains
- Pitt receiver Boyd continues to grow on and off the field
- Youngwood gets 1st full-size grocery in nearly 20 years