Recipe to keep your PC running and clean

I’m constantly being asked, “How do I keep my Windows based PC safe”.  In truth, it’s nearly impossible, but here is my recipe:

 

  • Antivirus and Malware prevention

    • The best way to protect yourself from viruses and malware is to prevent them from happening in the first place.  Antivirus is nearly useless, as it rarely prevents infections these days (However, it is still a “best practice” to run it).
      1. Use OpenDNS.  They offer free malware filtering for your whole network.  You simply change your DNS servers in your router to them, and you are instantly protected.
      2. HostMan is a handy utility that you install on your computer, and it updates your computers host file, so it WON’T talk to known “bad” websites.
      3. The Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit is yet another tool you can run to make your programs follow best security practices and keep them from being exploited.
      4. There is a VERY nasty piece of malware going around right now that will encrypt your data and hold it for ransom.  You can help prevent it by installing the CryptoPrevent tool.
      5. Keep all of your software up to date.  Most people think they already do this when windows update runs, but there are probably many more programs on your computer that are NOT updated via windows update.  Secunia PSI and File Hippo Update Checker are tools that will take inventory of your software.  They will either let you know or, in some cases, update the software automatically.
      6. Uninstall any unused software as it can be a vector to infect your computer or slow it down unnecessarily.
      7. DO NOT use Internet Explorer (The little blue “E”) to surf the web.  Instead use a more secure browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox.
  • If you do get infected…

    • I bet 99% of Windows users right now are infected with some form of malware or a virus!  There are free tools out there to help you remove or cleanup the infection.
      1. Rkill is a great small utility to stop any running malware.  This does NOT clean malware, but simply stops it from running before you attempt to clean it up with another tool.
      2. MalwareBytes is one of the best detector and removal tools out there.
      3. ComboFix is also a good command line based solution when MalwareBytes doesn’t work.
  • Backup!!!

    • I can’t stress this one enough.  It’s the one tip that EVERYONE knows about, but few actually do.  Data loss can happen at anytime for various reasons (hardware failure, fire, theft, malware, etc).  If your data, time, and money are important (chances are they are, even if you initially think they aren’t), you NEED to back up!!!
    • There are two major types of backups, file based backups and image based backups.
      • File based backups – only backup your data (word and excel documents, pictures, videos, music, quickbooks, etc), NOT your operating system or programs.
        • For file based backups I use CrashPlan.  It is a great solution for file based backups.  Not only does it backup to a local hard drive or computer, but also allows you to backup offsite.  This is very important as it protects you from fire or theft.  The offsite backup also protects your data from malware such as CryptoLocker, which would otherwise encrypt all of your local data and hold it for ransom.
      • Image based backups – These backup EVERYTHING!  Your data, programs, operating system, etc.  They allow you to get back up and running quickly in case of a failure.
        • For image based backups I use tools such as Macrium Reflect or Acronis True image.  They allow you to get back up and running after failure very easily.
    • Backup tips:
      • Backups should be automatic!  You NEVER want human interaction (ie. swapping USB hard drives, walking USB hard drives offsite, etc).
      • MULTIPLE backups are important in case one doesn’t work properly.
      • Notifications of your backups are good, so you can tell when a backup has stopped working.
      • Apple’s photostream is NOT a valid backup or storage solution!
  • Pay close attention when installing or updating software

    • Often times when you install software, it will also try to install additional software that you did NOT ask for.  They do this because they get paid per installation, but it often times lead to start pages or search providers being changed, and computer slow down due to extra software being run.  You can often times prevent this by simply UN-CHECKING the additional software to be installed when you are installing or upgrading software.

Links to all software mentioned can be found in our useful links section.

This all sounds pretty simple right? </SARCASM>  Keeping your PC running smoothly is nearly a full time job all in itself.  If you are not up to the task, or would rather spend your time doing something else, we are here to help!  Please feel free to contact us (call or email) so we can setup a time to get  your PC running safely and smoothly.

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