From ignoring anti-virus protection to neglecting to back up data, even the most seasoned PC user may be guilty of risky or irresponsible usage habits. Here are the seven most common – and most dangerous – of those mistakes. Courtesy of www.hp.com

7 Deadly Sins of PC Users

1. Failing to keep anti-virus protection updated

Almost all PC users know they need to have anti-virus protection. But that’s not enough: You have to keep the program up to date for it to be effective.

Most anti-virus packages include one year of free updates, but after that you‘ll need to purchase a subscription or uninstall the software and install next year’s version. Anti-viral software that automatically renews your subscription is one no-hassle way to keep your computer protected from the latest Internet threats.

2. Downloading unsafe material

Think twice before downloading music and movies from websites like Kazaa or Limewire –many of these peer-to-peer programs contain worms and viruses.

Also exercise caution with free utilities, screensavers, games, etc. These often are guilty of depositing spyware or malware on your PC. To prevent this, do some background research on any program you want to install, and make certain you have updated anti-spyware software.

3. Forgetting power protection

A single brief power surge or spike of electricity can seriously damage or even permanently destroy your PC. A surge protector protects your equipment by channelling the extra voltage into the outlet's grounding wire, preventing it from flowing into the electronic device.

 

However, even the best surge protectors can’t protect your PC from the millions of volts that a lightning strike can cause. The best way to prevent lightning storm damage is to simply unplug your computer.

 

For businesses, a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) provides protection from all sorts of power disruptions, from a complete failure to voltage spikes.

4. Neglecting to back up data

This is probably the most potentially damaging, and most often overlooked, mistake made by PC users. So how can you avoid this popular pitfall?

 

  • CD-R / CD-RW: Most PCs have CD writers, the stored data is easily accessible and you can back up 700MB at a time. Both types of media are available at less than 10 cents a gigabyte.
  • Flash drives: Also known as memory sticks, these small, portable devices plug into any computer with a USB port and are perfect for storing small amounts of data (capacity ranges from 64MB to upwards of 1GB).
  • External hard drives: As prices continue to drop, many users and businesses are turning to external hard drives as a backup solution. The cost per gigabyte can be 50 cents or less.
  • FTP: Uploading data to a secure server in a protected environment via FTP (file transfer protocol) is an easy option. Various data farms exist online, and some even offer free storage.

Small and medium-sized businesses should consider a more advanced automated backup system

5. Ignoring Windows® updates

If you use Microsoft® Windows, you need the latest security patches and service packs to keep your PC safe from security threats and support optimal functionality. Be sure to turn on Automatic Updates, or obtain updates manually.

6. Misusing e-mail attachments

Attempting to send mammoth files (like videos or photos) can affect mail server performance and consume large amounts of bandwidth and storage. One easy solution: For larger files, compressed or “zipped” data allows much faster transfer times, increased bandwidth and disk space.

 

Also, when opening e-mail attachments, don’t forget to scan them first to make sure they are safe and don’t contain a virus.

7. Friends and family using your PC

Allowing other users access to your computer increases the likelihood of contracting a virus, having unwanted files and programs downloaded to your PC, and experiencing changes to your personalized settings.

But you don’t have to ban everyone or hide your notebook in the closet. If you use Windows 2000 or XP, turn on the Guest account for other users. This setting prevents new program installation and changes to system settings. 


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