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Most times, your computer will get a virus or get corrupted because of something you do.  That includes, clicking on an email attachment or picture that carries a virus and thus gets loaded onto your computer. 

Be aware, that Microsoft or Apple will never call you about your computer.  If you get a call from someone who says there is something wrong with your computer, just hang up.  Don't ever let them direct you to a web site that will give them access to your computer.  If you get a window that pops up and wants to fix your computer, just close the web browser or shut down the computer if you can't get past that window.  Restart the computer and run a virus scan.


Viruses are getting to be a real pain as is spam. One the the hardest to deal with lately has been the ones that take over your home page. These viruses or trojans put up pages that give you all kinds of links to click on. When you do the propogators of these trojans make money from the linked pages. The "CoolWebSearch" trojan is especially hard to find and delete. This trojan comes to us from Russia and has a new variant almost weekly. I have done considerable research on this and have found that many antivirus programs do not find it and therefore cannot get rid of it. This trojan is commonly referred to as CWS. If you have it and want to get rid of it yourself, I refer you to the following link from a guy in the Netherlands who has done a great job of tracking it and written a small program to remove it. His web site is SPYWAREINFO.

One of the latest spyware/malware scams is to have a window popup and tell you that you have a virus or trojan on your computer.  This is in itself malware.  If you click on this it will download a program that will make your computer almost useless.  If you see this don't click on anything, hold the control key and hit F4 which will close the active window.  If you do click on it, download and run CCleaner  and Malwarebytes.

   Other viruses, worms, and trojans are out there just waiting to invade your computer. To keep them at bay, the best thing you can do is to have a good antivirus program and keep it up to date (once a week), do the windows update once a month, have some sort of firewall (I use Zonealarm from Zonelabs.com, which has a free version), use a spyware program (I use Spybot Search & Destroy, again a shareware version). These will help defend you against some of the bad guys(gender neutral) out there. There are also the antivirus and firewall software that you can purchase.

Other antivirus/spyware/malware applications that I find very useful and effective are:

  • Avast antivirus
  • Malwarebytes
  • Hijackthis
  • CCleaner
Back It Up

It can never be said enough, back up everything you do. Backups can be made to cd's or another hard drive either internal or external , and to the Cloud. Portable hard drives are the best device for the money today. You can also, especially if you have a business, back up off site. Off site can be to any location in the world. There are business that specialize in off site backups and your data can be set to back up off site automatically on a regular schedule. For most though, just putting data on a cd, or external drive and then storing it away from the computer (in a safe or safety deposit box)is best. It depends how valuable your data is to you. Computers and programs are easily replaced, but the work we do on them is not. Back up your operating system or at the least have boot disks to reinstall in the event that your system doesn't boot. It has happened to me on many occasions. If you have a computer network, back up from one computer to the other.  Create a system restore point each time you make changes to your computer.  If you do get some malware on your computer, you can go back to a previous date to restore it.  You will lose anything you did since the restore date, but at least you will have a functioning machine.  System Restore is located under Program Files>Accessories>System Tools.   Lately, external hard drives have really come down in price, so if you have a USB connection, this is the way to go because you can just unplug the hard drive and take it with you or store it in a safe place. This is a great way to save a lot of picture files. You can buy 500 Gigabytes of hard drive for under $100 and it will last a lot longer than compact discs or even DVD. The other option for smaller drives and more portable are the thumb drives or jump drives that you can carry on a key chain, around your neck on a cord or just in your pocket. These range from 1 GB to a 16Gig or more starting at about $20. I use the thumb drive to carry files or small programs from one job to another. A lot of the virus detection software I use fits on a 128MB flash drive.

Faster Start Up

If you want to speed up the computer start up and boost your performance you may want to delete on start up, some of the back ground programs that most computer manufacturers load onto your computer. By not having these programs always running you will have faster start up time and the programs will be called upon when needed.
Click the start button and choose run. In the box type "msconfig" without the quotation marks. You will get a box or window that allows you to uncheck some of the items you don't need when your computer first boots up. You absolutely do need systray and explorer. This configuration works for Windows 95, 98, and Millenium, XP, Vista and Windows 7. Of course when in doubt consult someone who knows the system before you delete or uncheck anything. For Windows 10, use the task manager and look under the start tab at the top.  If you don't see the start tab, click details at the bottom left.

Internet Downloads

Be very careful when using the internet. If you inadvertently click on something you may be downloading a potentially harmful program. Always download to a temp file before running the program. A good antivirus program should scan anything you download if you have it set to do so. If you have a window pop up telling you that there is a virus on your computer, it probably is the virus or malware. Do not click on it. The best thing to do is hold the control key and then press F4 and it will close the window.

Email Attachments

Always look over your email carefully. Do not open any attachments that you are not expecting and even those may contain a virus. If you receive an attachment from someone you know, and you weren't expecting it, call them and ask if they sent it to you. Some of the viruses will send themselves to everyone in the address book of the infected computer, so you may not only install a virus on your own computer, but send it to your friends. Don't use the preview window for your email. Some malicious programs will run as soon as you preview the email.

Transfer Files

If you get a new computer and want to save or transfer files from the old one to the new one there are a couple of easy ways to do this. One is to install the old hard drive as a slave in the new machine and then copy over the files to the new hard drive. Another method is to attach a data transfer cable to the printer ports of the compuuters and to set one up as a host and the other as receiving computer and then transfer the data with the communication tool in the accessory section of your programs. There are also usb cables to transfer files from one computer to another, and then there is always the external hard drive or the flash drive.

My Scanner Won't Work

Many computer users have scanners or other scsi devices connected to their computers and wonder why they don't always work. Many of these things need to be turned on prior to booting up the computer so that they can be recognized. SCSI for external devices is another thing that is rapidly becoming a dinosaur, being replaced by usb.  Many folks now have all-in-one printers.  These are great printers for multi-function purposes.  Download the latest software for your printer if you have a PC (on a Mac, it is usually included in the operating system) and do your scanning, etc using the printer software on the computer.

Digital Cameras

Most digital cameras are recognized as drives by your computer. If the camera came with a disk you should install the program to use with the camera. If you are using a camera without the benefit of the program or just don't want to install another program, then you should be able to just drag and drop you pictures from the camera to the folder on your computer where you would like to keep them. I would recommend putting all pictures on an external hard drive where they will not take up a lot of space on your computer hard drive and will be safe from computer crashes. A usb card reader is a great device to have and many computers come with these built-in today. This saves the battery in your camera and can usually download the pictures quicker.

And don't forget about the printer that may have the card reader and you can, with some printers, download to your computer as well as look at the pictures on the printer screen.

Operating Systems

Microsoft's operating system "Windows 7" is still a very reliable system but since then they have introduced Windows 8 and now Windows 10. Windows 10 is a combination of 7 and 8 and works fairly well although it is still being updated frequently. I would recommend for anyone wanting to upgrade to Windows 10, to do a clean install rather than an upgrade from 8 or 7.

Apple has had many upgrades in operating systems lately and I always stay one version behind until I am sure that the new one is working as advertised.

Internet Safety

If you have children using the internet, monitor what sites they are going to. For younger children, make a folder in the favorites or bookmark area of the web browser with their name as the name of the folder, and save to that folder some of the sites they like and that you approve of. Most schools have instructions on their websites about how to block or monitor your child's internet use. Unfortunately, the use of social networking sites and the children's naivete can be a dangerous combination.


For networks, whether in home or business, remember that a good firewall is a justifiable expense especially if you have an always on connection such as a cable modem. There are some free firewall programs for minimal protection, but you usually get what you pay for.

Keyboard Commands

For those who like to use keyboard commands rather than reaching for the mouse all the time, there are commands for most things you want to do. For instance: alt F4 will close a window and alt-shift-F4 will close all the windows and the program. Control x is cut, control c is copy, control v is paste, control S is save, and control P is print.

How Did That Happen

Something that happens more frequently than you would think is the inadvertent striking of keys that seemingly don't do anything, but really do have an impact. For instance, if you hit the insert key accidentally while trying to backspace, when you try to type in between letters or words the new typing will delete or type over what is already there. Just hit the insert key again. In most programs, there is the possibility of going to edit and clicking undo if you have not hit any other key after the one that caused the mistake. Some programs have the ability for multiple undo.

New Purchases

When purchasing a new computer, take into consideration future needs. What works on the computer now may not in the not too distant future. Programs are getting bigger and glitzier all the time. They use more RAM and more hard disk space than ever before. My suggestion is to take your time and assess your current and future needs, do some research and ask a lot of questions. If someone tries to rush you into buying or ordering a computer before you are ready, back off the deal. Computers are like cars only worse. A new model will be out before you get the one you just bought home. You don't always need the latest technology or the newest upgrade. Ask, does it work for me? Most computers and programs do much more than the average person needs to do, so buy for now and tomorrow but don't think what might be out next year as far as software is concerned unless you are a computer professional.

The Power went Out

A UPS (uninterupted power supply)is another worthwhile investment. Having a ten minute battery backup will allow you to save your work and properly shut down your computer in the case of a power outage. It also may save your computer if you are subject to voltage irregularities. Remember, n the event of an electrical storm, unplug everything including your modem.

Keep It Clean

Your computer needs periodic maintanence and cleaning. First, clean up your files and hard drive by running diskcleanup and defragmenter at least once a month. These tools are found in programs -> accessories -> system tools. These do take some time to run, so be sure you're not in the middle of something.
Then next part of keeping it clean is the inside of the box. Take the cover off of the tower or desktop case (be sure to unplug the power supply after you have shut the computer down properly). Use a can of compressed air (recommended) or a light vacuum. You don't want to use a powerful vacuum cleaner and certainly don't want any metal parts of the vacuum to come into contact with the cards, etc. inside the box. That is why I recommend blowing out the inside and vacuum away any dust or pet hair, etc. that comes loose. Excessive dust, pet hair, etc. will shorten the life of the computer because it increases the heat on the components. Heat is one of the biggest factors in the demise of a computer.