Most of us use a computer daily to communicate, work, play or even bid for NASCAR stuff on eBay. It’s easy to forget or ignore some pretty important security updates. Let’s count them down.

Number 5

We don’t update our PCs! We ignore updates; some of us don’t understand what these things are. We see a flashing icon in the lower right-hand corner of our PC and wonder, what is that? Everything is working, so why should I update? Updates are very important; in fact, more new viruses are introduced as a result of missed updates than from rogue websites. The hackers of the world who want to damage your PC are using badly written software that has been compromised to infect your PC. Update your software regularly. Here is a list of the software that should regularly be updated: Adobe Reader, Apple iTunes, Java, and of course, always do the Microsoft updates. Update always update

Number 4

Browser Toolbars. When surfing the web, have you ever come across a site offering to give you a 50% off coupon, or a new screen saver daily? Have you been searching for widgets and come across a website and it says it can help find that widget by installing a toolbar? Well 3 words– don’t do it! Toolbars are software programs designed to put their needs first. Those toolbars can slow down your internet access, clog your inbox full of junk mail and they can allow people to take over your PC! When you go to install a legitimate piece of software, READ everything. I mean everything. Some of these toolbars want to track your movements on the web or send you a daily email. Or they want to take over your home page and search engine. You can normally uninstall them from your Add and Remove Programs in the Control Panel. I bet your browser will run A LOT faster without all that junk starting each time it’s started. Check your browser today!

Number 3

Software bundling. Have you ever noticed when installing legitimate software on your PC, something else gets installed at the same time? I see this all the time from my customers at California Computer Rescue. People get so involved in getting the software installed or updated they don’t read the fine print. If you see a check box while installing software and its pre-checked, be aware that software installs other software. For example, when installing Adobe Reader, it wants to install Google Chrome. When installing iTunes from Apple it wants to install the iCloud software and update all other Apple software in the PC. When installing Java it wants to install the McAfee Security Scan Plus! I wanted Java not McAfee. It’s called software bundling and it’s evil. Software manufactures “most of the time” allow you to uncheck the box to not install the bundled software. Always check for “extra software” when installing or updating applications on your PC.

Number 2

Backup. People never realize what they have in their PC– downloaded pictures from their camera, created documents, ripped music, saved email and one of the biggest, their email address book. People go nuts when they lose access to their email address book. But it’s a simple fix. There are so many ways to back up your PC. I have written two Lompoc Vision articles about backing up computers, but, there are two major ways to do this.
The first (and easiest) method is to install a USB hard drive and backup software. I normally recommend Western Digital hardware because of their backup software, WD Smart Ware. They cost about $80.00 and after installing and configuring the software, they just work- no configuration to do, no buttons to push, nothing to check. It’s pretty much pain free. The second backup method is the web-based approach. There are several companies out there that will charge you $60.00 per year to save your documents on the web some place. I am not a big fan of this approach. You lack physical control of YOUR data and if the vendor suddenly goes out of business, the data you have stored there is gone. It’s also expensive. That $60.00 per year times the average life of a PC (5 years) totals $300.00 just to back up your data. I like the $80.00 approach. It saves me $220.00

Number 1

Virus/Malware software. Viruses are out there. We all know it and we need to be protected. Make sure you have a good anti-virus program. “But Rob, there are so many out there, what is the best one for my PC?” There are free Antivirus programs out there and there are paid for antivirus software. A lot of people say, “Well, if it’s free, that’s for me.” Not so fast. Let’s take my favorite example. A good friend of yours gives you a car. Yes, a car. They drive it into your driveway one night. You’re excited, but it’s late and you need to go to sleep. The next morning you get up and say, “I am going for a cruise in my new ‘free car’.” You walk downstairs and look out the window.
Is that a puddle of oil you see under the car? You rush out and look further. Look at the tires; they are almost bald. The cost of the ’free car’ is already adding up. That’s how I look at free antivirus software. Most of the vendors of this type of product don’t have the financial backing to do the testing or update the product or give you all the bells and whistles of a paid for antivirus software. In my mind, it’s better to pay the money now to protect yourself or you’ll end up paying an IT service company to remove the virus you get. It’s not if you get a virus. It’s when.One caveat is that the paid for antivirus software companies find ways to scare consumers into buying it
from them for full price. They will email you weeks before it’s due to expire. Don’t buy it. Do the research in advance of your subscription expiring. Most antivirus is easy to install, and I can almost guarantee you will find the same software online for much less.