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PC Tips


Hemphill & Associates, L.L.C. has developed this handy checklist to assist customers in getting their PCs in shape to handle things like virus attacks, spyware, hacking attacks and other items of dubious nature.  Regrettably, the Internet for all its value also has criminals looking to make your life miserable and to steal from you when you are not looking!  Don't be a victim!  Please go through this list and help yourself and your company fend off these attacks.  Unfortunately, it can happen to you and usually does when you least expect it or have that crunch deadline!  Also take a look at our handy reference of websites that may help.  We know this can be very confusing, so please don't hesitate to contact us if this seems overwhelming.

1.  Apply updates to your Windows Operating System, but check with your PC Administrator first to make sure this isn't already being done!  These updates contain things like the latest security, performance, and functionality patches for your Operating System.  Setting up automatic updates can have some side-effects especially if you have a slow network connection such as dial-up.  Many of these updates can take a long time to download over dial-up connections and can impact the performance of  machines when that happens.  In those instances, we recommend that you set automatic updates to notify of the updates being available for you to download at your convenience.  This can be done in the "Control Panel" of your "Start" menu and clicking on "Automatic Updates" in the "Control Panel".  See our handy reference of websites for information on the location where the updates can be downloaded.

2.  Install anti-virus software.  This software scans the hard drive and memory in a PC to look for software that may have been infected by a virus.  These viruses can range from things that will totally wipe out your information on your hard drive to items that are an annoyance.  Software viral infections are usually obtained by downloading or opening files from the internet or via e-mail.  Make sure you have a good anti-virus package installed.  See our handy reference of websites for information on the location of where you can obtain these packages which are worth the money!  If a PC has ever been infected just once and all your information went away, what would you do???!!!

3.  Install anti-spyware.  This software scans the hard drive and memory in a PC to look for software that may have been infected by spyware.  Spyware is software that can affect a PC in various ways.  Some spyware is used to track your movements to various websites for marketing purposes with things called cookies.  Other spyware gets more insidious with things like "Trojan Horse" packages that hide inside other software only to steal your credit card numbers or passwords when you key them in.  See our handy reference of websites for information on the location of where you can obtain these packages which are worth the money!

4.   Install firewall software or hardware .  Firewall software is used on computers to block malicious attacks coming from the Internet.  These can be attacks that come in without your knowledge which can spy on or attack a computer. Some organizations have hardware firewalls on their networks and you may not need a software firewall.  See our handy reference of websites for information on the location of where you can obtain a firewall.  You can also check to see if you have a firewall in place by doing a security scan as shown on the handy reference of websites and/or check with your system administrator for more information.

5.  Backup your critical information!!!  Many organizations go about their business and forget to do this critical step on PCs.  It is unfortunate that in our time in the computer industry, we have seen businesses go bankrupt because they forgot to do this critical step!  After the PC hard drive fails it is too late.  Many people and organizations struggle to recreate the information and sometimes, it is just plain lost!  Many PCs come with CD-ROM or DVD writers these days that can backup information and hold lots of it.  Also, external hard drives can also be used.  These external drives can be removed and put in a safe place.  Hemphill & Associates recommends "rolling backups" where two backups are kept.  Once one backup is completed and stored in a safe place, the other is retrieved and used for the next backup.  This helps insure against a problem with bad media on your backup. 

 In Windows XP, backup can be as simple as clicking on Start, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. Add a repeating task on your calendar to backup your information and files that you and your organization spend so much time working on to prevent serious loss.   Backup that information which is important to your business and don't try to back up those things that could be replaced by some other means.  The "My Documents" folder is always a good place to start. Add an entry in your calendar that makes sense for how often your data changes.  It could be daily, weekly, or monthly.   Store every other copy off-site in case of fire or flood.   With hurricanes, fires and floods that have occurred, we have seen the destruction these acts can perform.  Ask your business and yourself the question: "Could my business continue with the information I have backed up?"  Contact us if your organization needs help in putting together a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.

6.  Automatically schedule disk cleanup and disk defragmentation software to run in off-hours like lunch time or overnight once every two weeks (roughly).  The cleanup programs remove temporary and old files that are no longer used to avoid disk space being used that can impact the performance of a machine.  Disk defragmentation software runs to move information on the hard disk closer together so it doesn't have to "bounce around" trying to find information scattered on the hard disk.  This can substantially impact performance.  Click on the "Help" section under your "Start" menu and lookup "Scheduled Tasks" for more information on how to set up your computer to run these tasks at a convenient time.  Or contact us for more information.

The above list is not an exhaustive list, but these items will take you and your organization a long way toward protecting the PCs and the information on them .  There are many more things that can help like:

  • Defragmenting and cleaning registries

  • Updating drivers

  • Checking configurations

These items are best left to the pros because damage or inoperability can result if things are not done properly and room for guesswork is very small.  Contact us if you would like us to handle these things for you.


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Copyright © 2005 Hemphill & Associates, L.L.C.  All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/15/12.