It doesn’t matter if you just bought your computer (except for purchasing a warranty – you did purchase a warranty didn’t you?) or if you’ve had your computer for some time; you need to keep it protected, keep your data protected, and your personal information protected. Did I mention protection? Here’s a checklist in no certain order:

  • Restore (Operating System) Discs
    Not all computers ship with them and you may have to create your own. Most newer (Windows-based) computers will prompt you to create your restore discs upon first or second startup or have a program from the manufacturer built in. You’ll need 1-3 blank DVDs to proceed.
  • Backup Hard Drive
    To backup your entire system (including operating system and data) for full system restore in case of hard disk failure. It is recommended to get an external drive larger than your computer’s so you can back up multiple versions; files change, they get deleted by accident, and viruses happen. If you’re into video or you are an audiophile I recommend a separate drive for backing up media. It’s also wise to keep your media on a separate partition (space) of your hard disk or another hard drive entirely [but only if you have a large amount – 50GB+/- is a rough number].
  • Cloud Based Backup (Carbonite/Mozy/SOS/Amazon S3/DropBox/Wells Fargo vSafe/IDrive/Backblaze/Online Backup for Dummies <- had to throw that in there)
    For the most important files. Typically good for data (Text, spreadsheets, financials, taxes, copy of DL and Passport, insurance binders, etc). Not recommended for music, video, software, or operating system backups.
    !!!DISCLAIMER!!! <– Did you catch that? I SAID, !!!DISCLAIMER!!! – When backing up sensitive data in the cloud (or wherever) you need to make sure that the vendor is secure. The only service that is unquestionably safe is the Wells Fargo vSafe. It’s actually harder to log in to than your bank account [“Go figure”] and it is kept behind many walls of security. If all else fails – .ZIP or .7z your files with a strong password under 256bit AES encryption.
  • Learn to Surf Safe
    An anti-virus program, a Mac, or a PC running Linux are not going to get you out of harm’s way. You need to watch what you’re doing, where you’re going, and stay out of the digital ghetto. If it looks like you’re downtown at night with the crazy people then guess what? Yup. Get out of there. There is more education than I can fit in a paragraph so for the time being: Use common sense.
  • Cable/DSL/Satellite/Cellular Internet (Internet that is always on)
    Is your PC plugged straight into your broadband modem? Spend $50-80 and get a gateway/router. The hardware firewall alone is worth it. There are also many software firewalls (Windows has one built in) and some of the above AV’s have Internet suites with software-based Firewalls. If you currently have a wireless router or access point make sure you have changed the password to access the router and that you have a password/security key to access the Internet via wireless. I also recommend that you use WPA2 encryption if your hardware supports and not WEP (especially if you’re a business owner that runs credit cards or other sensitive (medical, etc) data.

Had enough of this rant? Want more? Ask questions below!

Just a bit to think about your investment and prices:

Netbook: ~$200-300
Laptop: ~$400-2,500
Desktop: ~$300-5,000

AntiVirus: ~$Free-60/year
Backup Hard Drive: ~$35-150
(Fire Safe for your backup: ~$80-1,000)
LoJack for laptops: ~$30-80/year
Education on prevention: Time and/or money.
Warranty (incl. accidents): ~$250/3 years

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson
Co-Owner and founder of Credo Technology Group, LLC, Eric has been working with computers since the mid 80's and enjoys helping people become free of their technological stress.

1 Comment

  1. Eric Johnson says:

    Need some clearer advice? Ask questions in the comment boxes or on Facebook or Twitter! This was posted as a quick filler.

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