Friday, January 12, 2007

5 Good Computing Habits (5 of 5)

5. Run Antivirus Software and a Spyware Detection and Removal Tool

Updating your Windows software is just the first step in keeping your computer safe. Next, you'll want to download and install antivirus software and keep it up to date. Your computer may have come with a free trial of antivirus software, but if you don't renew your subscription, you won't be protected from all the latest threats. If you don't already have antivirus software, or if you'd like to get different antivirus software, check the Windows Marketplace Antivirus section for products that will work for you.
If your computer seems sluggish or if you begin to see lots of pop-up advertisements, even when you're not surfing the Web, your computer may be infected with spyware, adware, or other unwanted software. Learn more about spyware and what it can do to your computer, then download the free antispyware program from Microsoft.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

5 Good Computing Habits (4 of 5)

4. Keep Windows and Office Up To Date

Computer programs are continually changed and improved based on customer feedback and continuing product testing. Problems are resolved, features are added, and security is improved throughout the life of the program—and, as a registered user, you should benefit from those improvements. By checking Microsoft Update regularly, you can make sure you've got the most recent Windows and Office improvements available to you.
Visit Microsoft Update to start the update process. If it's your first time to visit Microsoft Update, you might need to sign up to the service.

To use Microsoft Update:
1. For high-priority updates, click Express Install (recommended). If you're just looking for general updates that aren't critical, choose Custom Install.
2. The site will do a quick check of your system to see whether any new updates are available that have not been downloaded to your computer. When the check is finished, a window appears showing you any new updates ready for download.
3. Follow the on-screen instructions and click Install Now to update your computer with the latest software improvements.
Once you've visited the Microsoft Update site, you should also configure your computer to receive critical updates automatically. This service is called Automatic Updates and it's free.

To turn on Automatic Updates:
1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. Click Performance and Maintenance.
Note: If the Performance and Maintenance category is not visible, click Switch to Category View.
3. Click System.
4. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Automatic Updates tab.
5. Select a setting. Microsoft recommends selecting Automatic: Automatically download recommended updates for my computer and install them. You can schedule Automatic Updates for any time of day. Remember, your computer must be on at the scheduled time for updates to be installed. We recommend choosing a time when you will not be using the computer for other tasks.
6. If you choose to have Automatic Updates notify you in step 5, you will see a notification balloon when new downloads are available to install. Click the notification balloon to review and install updates.
Important  If you choose an option in step 5 other than the one we recommend, you must download and install every critical update. If you download the updates, but forget to install them your computer will not be protected with all the latest enhancements.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

5 Good Computing Habits (3 of 5)

3. Use System Restore

System Restore is one of those programs that can be a life-saver when you've been the unfortunate recipient of unstable software, a badly timed power outage, or a damaging thunderstorm. System Restore records important documents, settings, and preferences on your computer at a certain point in time. If the unthinkable happens and your computer files are damaged or inaccessible, you can use System Restore to put your computer back the way it was before the data was lost.

It's good to get into the habit of creating a system checkpoint (called a restore point) anytime you're preparing to add new software that you've downloaded from the Internet or anything else that you suspect might make your computer unstable. If anything goes wrong with the installation or the program causes a conflict, you can restore your computer to the point just before you began the installation.

Note: System Restore automatically adds restore points to your computer daily and before you install device drivers, automatic updates, unsigned drivers, and some applications.

To use System Restore:
  1. Click Start, and choose All Programs.
  2. Point to Accessories, then point to System Tools, and then choose System Restore.
  3. When the program begins, choose Create a restore point and click Next.
  4. Enter a description of the restore point (such as "Starting fresh 2005") and click Create. After a few seconds, the program will tell you the date, time, and description of the new restore point.
  5. Click Close to exit System Restore.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

5 Good Computing Habits (2 of 5)


Now that you've organized your files and folders and cleaned up your desktop, you can organize the data itself. Windows XP includes two utilities—Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter—that help you free up more space on your hard drive and help your computer work more efficiently. Find additional ways to clean up your hard drive by reading 4 ways to speed up your computer.
  • Disk Cleanup compresses your old files with the intention of recovering additional storage space.
  • Disk Defragmenter scans your hard drive and consolidates files that may be scattered across the disk (the more you have stored on your hard drive, the more likely this is to happen, and the longer it can take to open and access files you select).
You won't want to run Disk Defragmenter as often as Disk Cleanup. As a general rule, use Disk Cleanup monthly or quarterly and run Disk Defragmenter once every six months or so.

To find both programs, click Start, point to All Programs, then point to Accessories, and then choose System Tools. You can click Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter in the System Tools menu.


Monday, January 8, 2007

5 Good Computing Habits (1 of 5)

Over the next five days I'm going to talk about 5 Computing Habits that can really help you organize, secure, and keep your PC running smoothly for years to come...

1. Organize your Folders

We all know how easy it is to dump files into the wrong folder when we're in a hurry. But one way to make sure you'll keep your files organized is to remove the clutter with a filing system that makes sense for the way you use your computer. Learn 7 tips for organizing your files. Here are a few tips to get you started:
  • Start clean
    Begin by deciding which files you no longer need on your hard drive.
  • Think it through
    Take the time to plan the best way to organize your files. How do you spend your time on the computer and what do you create? Do you work with photos and image editing software, surf the Web, write short stories, research school projects, or play games? The folders you create in My Documents can be easily tailored to show you just the kind of data about your files that you need to track.
  • Use subfolders
    After you have an idea of the kinds of items you produce and want to save, create folders and subfolders to store your files. Be sure to use logical, easy-to-understand names. For example, within My Documents, you might create these folders:
    • Projects
    • HR Benefits
    • Career
      Within the Projects folder, you could create subfolders for your different projects.
Tip: To create a new subfolder with Windows XP, in the File and Folder task pane click Make a New Folder. Type the name for the new folder and press Enter.