Keeping your computer in prime condition may seem complicated, but it certainly does not have to be. In fact, the key to a healthy PC is a simple three-step process of prevention, maintenance, and backups.
The great thing about a prevention plan is that once you set it up, it pretty much takes care of itself. Every OS (operating system) comes equipped with a few built-in defenses. This includes, but is not limited to, a firewall and customizable Internet security settings. When you purchase a new computer, you are usually prompted to set up your firewall, or it may be put in place for you by default. Either way, make sure that it is on and working.
Your other defense is setting your web browser's security settings. You can adjust the level of protection and even specify which websites are never allowed access to you. Something that you may need to install on your own is a virus protection program. There are lots of ways to find reputable ones: your service provider may offer a free one, you can purchase one, or you can even download a free one online.
Your maintenance routine needs to be just that - a routine. Don't make caring for your PC a sporadic event. Definitely do not wait until something bad happens - by then it may be too late. Most maintenance that you will need to do is made easy for you. By way of reminders (usually pop-ups), your PC will tell you that it is time to take care of some housekeeping. This includes installing OS updates or patches, updating your virus protection, and running virus scans. Try to schedule these things based on how often you use your PC, access the internet, or make other significant changes to your computer. For instance, if you are checking your email, installing new software, and downloading music on a daily basis, you will need a maintenance routine that is pretty frequent. However, if you rarely get online and seldom make any significant changes, your routine does not need to be as regular. Also, every few months, uninstall unused or outdated programs and perform a disk cleanup on your hard drive.
Finally, make sure that you backup your computer! I cannot stress this enough. Back up your computer or risk losing everything on it. Those precious pictures of your grand-kids? That report that took you weeks to complete? That video game progress that you saved? Those financial records on your desktop? If you are not prepared to never see any of it again, back up your data! Most computers now have a built-in backup program that makes it simple and pain-free. Some systems will even remind you periodically to update your backups. If you do not have this built-in reminder, however, take it upon yourself to back up your data on a regular basis. How often you backup depends on how often you add things that you cannot afford to lose.
With this process followed regularly, your computer will be less likely to be compromised. Even in a worst-case-scenario, if something slips past your computer's defenses, your prevention, maintenance, and backups will have your PC back in optimal health in no time at all.