Tips for a Problem-Free Computing Experience
Quick List | Practices To Avoid | Things You Should Do | Other Things You Should Avoid |
| The Benefits Of Being Paranoid
The more of these suggestions you follow, the fewer problems you should have. They won't solve any existing problems you have, but if you follow them all you should be able to avoid problems in the future.
If you are chiefly concerned about your privacy, including data theft, being tracked on the internet, or being monitored by your ISP you should consider using a Virtual Personal Network (VPN) along with using secure a search such as DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Bing while you surf the net.
In addition, here is a link to a page from How-to-Geek which explains what you shouldn't share.
Finally, if you're having security problems with your smartphone maybe this article can help.
Removing spyware from your phone can be tricky. These options are your best bet from ZDNet
NEVER open questionable internet links
NEVER use In-App Browsers
NEVER give out personal information to strangers
NEVER download software from questionable sites
NEVER open mysterious messages or emails, especially emails with attachments
NEVER jailbreak or root (remove manufacturer security from) your device!
ALWAYS keep your Windows & internet device software up to date
ALWAYS use unique passwords for all of the different sites you must login to.
ALWAYS use secure passwords (at least 8 digits in length, containing numbers, letters, and special characters)
See - Create a secure password using the LastPass Password Generator or the 1Password Generator
ALWAYS Use Two-Factor Authentication whenever possible.
ALWAYS Scan a downloadable file or a URL (link) before opening it, using Virus Total.
(See - How to Make Sure a File Is Safe Before Downloading It from How-to-Geek)
PRACTICES TO AVOID
"Don't get screwed because you haven't been clued"
1: Never fail to keep your internet programs, your computer, and/or
internet devices (Android & iOS) updated!
2: Never have more than one active antivirus (AV) program on your
PC. Two active AV programs may conflict with one another rendering you
defenseless. Use Programs and Features in the Control Panel or Apps and Features
in Win 8 or 10 PC Settings to uninstall extra programs you don't want, or need.
Then restart your PC.
3: Do not use unsafe email practices. (Where do I start?)
Note: Since email and email attachments are the favorite way that hackers attempt to spread malware, especially Ransomware, you should pay careful attention here.
4: Never open emails from unknown or suspicious senders.
5: Never open email attachments you were not expecting, no matter who they appear to be from. Be Safe! JUST DELETE THEM!!
6: Never respond to obvious spam email messages. Be wary about
using using unsubscribe links (just mark message as junk) and never click
directly on links in email messages. Again, just delete them!
7: Never visit questionable websites (ie porn, warez, hacking)
However if you must download files from these sites use discretion, scan all
downloads with your up-to-date antivirus program (or Malwarebytes) as soon as
download is complete. If files are compressed, scan again after decompressing or
8: Never click on bogus popup ads - especially if the ad
says your PC is infected with a virus. Close the window or turn off the browser.
Use Alt+F4 or the Task Manager to close the program or shut down your PC if
nothing else works (hold down the power button). It's better to take the time to
restart your PC than to take a chance of getting PC malware. At best you'll need
to spend your valuable time researching and dealing with the problems or at
worst you may need to replace your operating system, potentially losing files
and installed programs.
9: Never download programs and files from questionable sites.
Never download software updates or device driver updates from anywhere but the original
software or equipment manufacturer. If you are uncertain search with
Duck, Duck, Go
to find out what others are saying about a site before downloading any software or files.
10: Never provide any passwords or personal information in response to any message, email or a phone call, informing you that your account(s) were hacked or compromised. Deleting all such emails or ending the phone call is the most appropriate response.
11: Never use pirated programs. You have no idea what the creators have placed into these programs. There are too many free programs available to take such chances. See my Freeware page at http://www.greenthumbnsy.com/freeware.htm
12: Never connect to unknown devices. Don't plug strange USB
flash drives into your PC.
13: Never use Registry cleaners or optimizers unless you know
EXACTLY what you are doing. No matter what anyone says you cannot magically gain
great speed increases from using these programs. Leave the Windows Registry
alone until you gain more knowledge about how it works. You can easily render
your PC unusable by poking into the Registry.
14: Never use the same login credentials for every internet site you login to. If a hacker were to gain access to your username and password for one site then he (or she) would be able to login to any site you use and potentially create enormous problems for you.
15: Never poke unnecessary holes in your firewall by clicking 'Allow' every time some program requests access to the Internet. When it doubt over whether or not to allow some program, use Google to find out what it is and whether or not it needs access to the Internet. Otherwise, denying access is the safest course of action, since you can always change the rule later if something does not work as you expect.
16: It's not a good idea to use file sharing or P2P programs. (Torrent sites are filled with malware.)
17: Both Windows XP and Windows Vista are obsolete!
Also be aware that Windows 8 has suffered the same fate in January of 2023!
18: NEVER concern yourself or worry about being rude, to people who are obviously trying
to scam you or steal your personal information, by hanging up on them or deleting their emails
THINGS YOU SHOULD DO
1: Topping the list of the things you should do is to make regular backups of your personal
files (External hard drive or USB Flash Drive) for your new Windows 10 or 11 computer.
2: Also, if you have a new Windows 11 PC you should
download all current Windows Updates to make your new PC as secure as it
Go to PC Settings by clicking the gear icon in the Windows 11
start menu or press the hot keys Windows + i (at the same time), then choose Windows Update
and then click the Check for Updates button.
3: Stop using Internet Explorer. Mozilla's Firefox and Google Chrome are much safer and better alternative Internet Browsers. Microsoft Edge which now comes with Windows 11 is also much more secure than the old, defunct, Internet Explorer.
4: Always have an up-to-date antivirus program running.
There is no reason not to have one since it is not necessary to pay for a decent
antivirus program. (See the Security Programs section of my page Freeware to identify and
5: Always have a firewall running. Windows firewall should always be on unless you have a router or gateway that includes a firewall. Note: Running two firewalls is unnecessarey and may slow your connection speed.
6: Always use Windows Update to download and install all the latest Windows updates, including all security updates, from Microsoft. Don't be concerned with any Optional Updates unless you are positive you need them.
7: Always delete all unsolicited emails containing attachments without reading. Curiosity killed the cat. (I know, I mentioned some of these things earlier. But people can't hear it enough. It's important.)
8: Always use a different and secure password for each site where you must login. (use at least 8 digit passwords containing letters, numbers, and special characters)
9: Always copy and paste URLs (web addresses) from email messages into your web browser. Don't simply click on them! If they don't look right turn off your browser rather than going to a potentially dangerous site.
10: Always inspect links copied and pasted into your web browser to ensure they don't seem to contain a second/different address.
11: Always backup your data files. In Windows 10 you can go
to PC Settings, then Update and Security, then Backup using File History.
12: Always download any new Apps, programs and files from reputable sources only. Filehippo, and others like it scan all their files and programs for viruses and malware before offering them for download. See my Freeware page to find good free software.
13: Watch the installer when installing new software - especially freeware. At times these installers will attempt to install software you neither want nor expect. Decline all extra software installs.
14: Keep your software updated.
A note concerning Adobe Flash Player and Java.
If you want to speed up your PC disable
unnecessary startup programs and/or install more Random Access Memory (RAM), if your PC is upgradable.
(RAM is not that expensive now.) For help see Is your PC running
OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD AVOID.
1: Never send attachments in emails unless they are requested.
2: Never use stationary or any other kind of special formatting in emails.
3: Never TYPE IN ALL CAPS.
4: Avoid texting speak in forums.
5: Never poke sleeping bears.
6: Avoid using online registry or PC check sites.
7: Another last warning about Windows Registry.
If you should get a computer virus or malware on your computer use another PC to access internet help forums - such as Bleeping Computer - for advice on how to get rid of it. Quite frequently the advice you will receive will require that you have more than a passing knowledge about computers. So if you would rather have a technician solve your problem for you, be sure of the charges before leaving your PC with him/her.
DON'T DOWNLOAD WINDOWS UPDATES FROM ANYWHERE EXCEPT WINDOWS SETTINGS WITHIN WINDOWS! (In other words: From anywhere except Microsoft.)DON'T DOWNLOAD DEVICE DRIVER SOFTWARE UPDATES FROM ANYONE EXCEPT THE ORIGINAL DEVICE MANUFACTURER. (If it's a Dell PC, use Dell Support or if it's a HP PC use HP Support.)
Disabling Startup Programs
It is possible for a user to run the Task Manager startup tab (right-click on the taskbar then choose Task Manager from the context menu) or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Esc to access the Task Manager to disable some of these unnecessary or unwanted startup programs. However the best way to rid yourself of troublesome startup items is to change the settings of these programs or as a last option, uninstall the programs that put them there in the first place.
If you prefer to use a third-party utility then download a program called Ccleaner from Filehippo.com. Ccleaner is for beginning to moderate users. The Ccleaner program also does a very acceptable job of cleaning the trash files from your PC. (an excessive accumulation of trash files can slow your PC)
To learn how to safely disable unneeded startup programs see my page Is your PC running Sloowly Now.
THE BENEFITS OF BEING PARANOIDTraditionally, paranoid people have been criticized for believing that everyone is out to get them. These criticisms may have had some validity in the bygone era of personalized relationships since it has traditionally been assumed that the great majority of people are reasonably honest and are not normally out to take unfair advantage of others.
Worried about Hackers? 3 security gadgets I never leave home without from ZDNet 01/26/2023
The age of instant communications, computers, and the internet has changed that. Now it is reasonable and even fashionable to be paranoid because you don't just think, you know, there are many others out there who are out to get you and your money.
If someone you don't know contacts you it is perfectly reasonable and likely much safer for you to disbelieve them.
For example, If you get a telephone call from someone who claims to be a banking official you know they are lying since banks never call or email their customers (except, possibly, in response to your call), they simply send you a letter in the mail.
Likewise, if someone calls claiming to be an Apple or Microsoft employee you should immediately hang up on them since neither Apple nor Microsoft will ever contact you saying there is a problem with your computer.
AND IF SOMETHING SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS! Don't be taken in by people like that long-suffering Nigerian Prince or those put-upon Nigerian Scammers who want access to your bank account so he/they can tranfer his treasure into it to keep out of the hands of the bad guys.
Hackers and scammers know your telephone number and/or your email. They are constantly trying to trick you into devulging your valuable personal information with the goal of stealing your identity then ripping you off. Don't be a sucker and be their latest victim. Just delete the email or hang up!
If you want to read about more things you shouldn't do with your computer, PC Magazine has a good article called 8 Bad Habits That Are Destroying Your PC
There is also a good article called 15 Common Computer Mistakes You Should Have Stopped Making by Now from Reader's Digest.
And Finally, If all of the above wasn't depressing enough. See this eye-opening warning article from PC Magazine - How to Avoid the Top Internet Scams.
One last thing:
VIRTUAL PERSONAL NETWORKS (VPNs)
What is a VPN and why do you need one? From ZDNet
When you decide you need a VPN (Virtual Personal Network) to avoid being tracked while you surf.
How should you evaluate VPN's
If you value your internet security DON'T DEPEND ON A FREE VPN TO KEEP YOU SAFE! Free VPNs tend to leak information much more than the ones you pay for. Pick a good VPN!
Top VPN's by PC Magazine
Best VPN's by CNET
Best VPN services by PC World Magazine
Best VPNs from Toms Guide
Top Ten VPNs from ZDNET Here are the webpages of some of the top VPN Services:
Note: This file of tips and suggestions was not originally compiled by me.
The original file was downloaded from a PC help forum and I altered, updated,
and refined it significantly before presenting it to others, but I do not claim
original authorship. Be that as it may, it is good advice and I thank the
unremembered and unknown person or persons who first came up with the idea on
that forgotten forum.