We have all become so reliant on computers these days that when the (almost inevitable) breakdown or crash occurs it can be a severe blow to your routine. If your desktop computer or laptop breaks down irretrievably, and you are left without the technology you rely on and all the data it held, life can suddenly get very difficult. Here are some tips on avoiding that situation.
Viruses, Spyware, Malware
Many common computer problems are caused by malicious software – computer viruses, spyware and malware. You can reduce your risk of encountering these problems by simply being careful; don’t open executable files attached to emails, don’t download free software from disreputable sites, and if a strange popup window appears while you’re on the internet, close it with the X in the corner or by pressing ALT+F4 – don’t click the Yes or No buttons. You will also inevitably encounter a number of warnings related to viruses, forwarded through emails or social media platforms. Some of these prompt you to take action that could itself damage your computer – if you receive such an email and aren’t sure whether it’s real or not, check against a database of virus hoaxes like that provided by Sophos, and if it’s listed as a hoax simply delete the email. Making sure that you have up to date antivirus software is also a must – McAfee offer a good range for home computers.
A computer is a very complicated piece of kit, and there are a number of things that should be done regularly to keep it working at its best. One example is defragmentation- as files are installed, moved and removed from your computer, they can get split or fragmented across the drive, and the computer takes longer to find and run them. Defragmentation essentially finds the split files and puts them together in the same place again. This is a process which runs automatically in Windows 7 and 8, but not in earlier versions so if you’re using an older operating system like Windows XP you would need to do it manually. If you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, then you can find local professionals to give your computer a service – Lantech Computers in York are an excellent example.
If something does happen to your computer or laptop, being able to retrieve your data will make it a lot easier to cope. You have two options; firstly to backup locally, which means copying your data to an external storage device, and secondly to backup online, which means copying your data to an online service. This TechRadar article lists eleven recommended pieces of free software to use for making local backups. In addition to the software, you’ll need somewhere to copy your data to, such as an external hard drive which can be connected via USB. Some of these options are confusing for the novice so again, contact a local professional if you need help. For online backup services, Lifehacker offer a list of five good online services. You can also use cloud storage options like Dropbox to backup really important files.