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What Every Computer User Must Know About Software Updates

Ever had your computer disabled by a nasty virus infection?  Many of your family, friends and neighbors have. Our phones continuously rang and a steady stream of clients poured in with infected computers the first week of this month.

All of the PCs had active virus protection software installed and working. So what happened?  What allowed these viruses to overtake these machines?

The answer was the same for every single person: they had not installed critical updates for several software programs on their computer.

Unlike the early days of computer viruses, pornographic or salacious websites are not the primary source of infections. It can be an innocuous website like Facebook, MSN or Yahoo. It can come from an email sent to you by a friend or relative.

Everyone who browses the Internet today knows better than to not have antivirus software installed on their computer.

But the problem is – we think the antivirus software is THE single source of protection against our computer becoming damaged by hackers and viruses. The fact is, it’s not.

You HAVE to keep your computer protected by installing critical updates for Windows and other programs on your computer.

You’ve most likely noticed (and ignored) when programs like Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, or iTunes alert you an update is ready to be installed. These updates contain important changes that improve the performance, stability and security of the program.

Installing these software updates is critical to keeping your computer protected against crippling virus infections and stolen personal information.

CITES Security, a division of the technology department of the University of Illinois, clearly describes the damage that can be done when you neglect to install updates for your various software programs:  “Just visiting a compromising website with a vulnerable version of Internet Explorer can allow attackers to access your computer and install software that steals your personal information. Being infected like this is known as a drive-by download. The software that infects computers through this vulnerability collects information, including user names and passwords for various sites, including bank and email accounts.”

Vulnerable AppsAs seen in the accompanying illustration, Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, discovered that the unpatched software most targeted by web exploits (think, virus writers and hackers) are: Java – 56%, Adobe Reader – 25%, Windows and Internet Explorer – 4%, Adobe Flash – 3%, Android Root (for mobile devices) – 2%, and other – 11%.

So what do you need to do?  Install the updates when you’re prompted!

Most people, however, hesitate doing these updates because of the justified fear it could be a fake program waiting to infect your computer.

Two solutions exist to solve this problem: 1) let your computer professional take care of the updates for you. At Calibre, we have a service that automatically installs all the critical updates via the Internet on a regular basis. This completely eliminates your worry about clicking the wrong thing or messing up your computer. Or 2) Do it yourself by regularly visiting http://www.ninite.com to manually download and install updates for common programs.

Bottom line, keeping your computer updated – in addition to using effective antivirus software – will greatly reduce the risk of your computer becoming infected with a virus.

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9 Tips to Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly

Computer Cleaning

Wouldn’t you agree that it’s very frustrating when your computer doesn’t work the way it should?  All you want to do is sit down, check your email or Facebook, or enjoy a few minutes playing solitaire – without becoming stressed out by an uncooperative computer.

Your computer is very similar to your car. It requires regular, basic maintenance to help keep it running smoothly and more error-free. It’s not a set-it-up and forget-it device like your home DVD player.

While performing regular maintenance on your computer does not mean it will never break or experience problems, it does reduce the chance of a more serious problem occurring and causing you major headaches or expensive repair bills.

 

Daily Tasks

1)     Back-up your data files. If you create documents, manage your finances, or store pictures or music on your computer, you should back up your files every day. This can be done by copying them to a DVD, an external hard drive, or USB flash drive.

2)     Perform virus scans. Virus infections cause most of the problems people experience with their computers. Installing a quality antivirus program, such as VIPRE Antivirus, and scanning your computer daily will help keep your computer healthy.

 

Weekly Tasks

1)     Install updates. Software manufacturers release updates to fix problems with their software. You should install Microsoft or Windows updates, Java, Adobe Flash Player, and Adobe Reader updates when you are notified that they are ready to be installed.
Each of these software programs has a distinctive icon or dialog box that will alert you that updates are ready to be installed. These icons generally appear in the bottom right corner of your screen near the clock. Download our update guide at http://www.bit.ly/IconsGuide.

2)     Reboot your computer. If you leave your computer on all the time, you should shut down and restart your computer at least two or three times a week. This helps clear the memory and allow the computer to operate faster.

 

Monthly Tasks

1)     Remove junk files. As you use your computer for browsing the Internet, installing and uninstalling programs, and other tasks, unnecessary files begin to fill up your hard drive. These files eventually slow down your computer.
The easiest way to remove all these files at one time is to use a free software called CCleaner. It can be downloaded from https://www.calibreforhome.com/free-tools.

2)     Run disk check. This process examines the health of your hard disk, detecting and fixing potential problems before they happen.
To run a disk check, click on the Start button and select Run. In the box, type CMD and click OK. In the black window that appears, type:  chkdsk c: /f. Then restart the computer.

3)     Defragment your hard drive. Each time you use your computer, files get accessed by various programs. When the program is finished using a particular file, it doesn’t always put it back in the same place it found it. This causes your computer to run slower.
Although Windows has a built-in defrag utility, we use and recommend the free Auslogics Disk Defrag software. It can be downloaded from https://www.calibreforhome.com/free-tools.

 

Every 6 Months

Computers attract dust, dirt, and animal hair. This can cause problems, as it clogs up the fans inside your computer and can cause heat to build up and damage the critical components of your computer.

Turn off your computer and unplug it from the power outlet. Open the computer case and gently blow out any dust with a can of compressed air. You can also brush off any dust or animal hair from the outside of the case. You may also want to blow out your keyboard with the compressed air.

 

Yearly Tasks

If you’re performing the preceding maintenance on your computer, it should run faster and more error-free. However, it’s always a good idea to have a computer professional perform a more in-depth tune-up once a year.

A quality tune-up service will check all of your computer’s hardware for potential problems, uninstall unnecessary software programs, and clean the registry (something that should NEVER be done by a home user).

Performing these simple maintenance tips on a regular basis will keep your computer healthy and running smoothly.