Over the years as countless computers have passed through our hands, we've detected patterns in the problems we see, and thought long and hard about how the worst problems might be prevented. Here are our recommendations:
  • Data Independence

    We can't say it enough: the computer is expendable, but the data it contains--pictures, tax returns, important school or work documents--is not. If your computer dies, right now, how much do you stand to lose?

  • Automatic Backup

    Backing up your important files is kind of like flossing your teeth: we honestly intend to do it, but don't get around to it quite as often as we'd planned.

  • Careful Where You Click!

    You can run the best security software in the world and still get infected if you click carelessly.

  • Windows Updates

    Not keeping Windows computers updated with the latest security patches from Microsoft is a leading cause of infection.

  • Antivirus

    A good antivirus is similar to a flu shot for your computer. Having an up-to-date antivirus application doesn't mean you can't be infected, but it's a crucial way to minimize the chances.

  • Install Only What's Necessary

    It's a simple truth: the more you install on your computer, the more chances for problems and slowdowns.

  • Use My Documents

    Most software will try to store your documents somewhere under the MY DOCUMENTS folder. This is a good thing.

  • A Clean Desktop

    The desktop of your computer (the "main screen" you see after it starts up, before you start any applications) is called that because it's just like the physical top of a desk: a place meant to hold just those things you are working on that is all too easily cluttered up with other things.

  • Organize Software

    Most computers come new from the store with a variety of software CDs or DVDs, most or all of which are already installed. Don't just mix those CDs with the dozens of others you already have.

  • Help Yourself

    It's midnight, and you can't figure out how to format multiple columns in Microsoft Word. Is there any hope?