Keep an updated virus scanner running all the time.
New virus are being discovered on an almost daily basis. If you don't update your virus program regularly, you are taking a big risk. A virus scanner is only as good as the last update to keep your computer free from damaging virus. Most of the really good virus scanners can be configured to check for updates without any intervention on your part. I highly recommend you use a virus program with this capability.
Update your Windows
Along with keeping your virus scanner, you need to keep Windows updated. Unless you are using any version of Windows 9x, which is no longer supported by Microsoft, you can get to the Windows update center by clicking on the link on your computer called 'Windows Update'. I don't always download every update, but the updates that Windows says are 'Critical' should always be downloaded & installed. Folks who neglect this are leaving their computers vulnerable for hackers and other attacks.
Use a Firewall
Keep your computer running smooth
If you have a car, you generally follow a maintenance schedule. You should do the same for your computer. If you are using any version of Windows 9x or Windows XP, (Vista and Windows 7 defrag runs in the background) at least once a month, run Defrag. Once a week delete your Temporary Internet files. Check daily for updates for your virus scanner. Keep your computer safe from spills (liquid is NOT good for keyboards). Not a good idea to eat over your keyboard, crumbs can cause sticky keys. Just following this routine should keep your computer in great shape.
'I don't know how to do that!'
If you haven't been using a computer very long, you may find yourself saying that a lot. I've been using a computer for a long time and there are times I still say that. Here are just a few things you may not know how to do, but you need to know.
Delete your Temporary Internet files
OK, what are Temporary Internet files and why should they be deleted? Every time you go to a web site, a copy of what you see on your monitor is stored in a special place on your computer. In theory this makes your web surfing go faster. If you return to a site you went to yesterday (or last week ), your web browser just accesses the copy stored on your hard drive. That's ok if you don't mind seeing the same thing all over again, but when I go back to a site I want to see the most current information, don't you? After a while the file that holds the Temporary Internet files can get so big it slows your computer's performance.
So on with deleting those files. In Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu & select Internet options. Half way down is the button marked 'Delete Files'. Go ahead & click on it. (Figure 1)
Then put a check mark in the little white square that says 'Delete all offline content' (Figure 2) and click ok. Got an hourglass? Taking a long time for it to go away? You really needed to delete those files. But you are not through yet. To really finish the job you need to close all open windows for Internet Explorer.
You can also delete the Temporary Internet files from the Control Panel by clicking on your Start button on your Desktop, select Settings & the Control Panel. Look for the icon named Internet Options and use the same procedure explained above. AOL users can delete their Temporary Internet files this way. If you are using Netscape, click on Edit & select Preferences. On the left side of the new menu that opens, click on the plus sign in front of Advanced. Highlight 'Cache". In the same menu to your right, click on 'Clear Memory' and then click on 'Clear disk cache'. Then close your browser.