Every now and then I provide friends with answers to questions about computers [my experience is all with Apple Macintosh computers, the iPad and the iPhone, but these general thoughts apply regardless of what system you use]. It's good to remember some of these points.
1. Murphy’s Law is always in charge: If something can go wrong at the worst possible time, it will.
2. Think ahead: what would you do if your computer ‘died’ when you had a school paper or report to get out in the next hour or two? What would you do if a tornado or hurricane were bearing down or a fire threatened your home or apartment? Be prepared for disaster to strike and hope/pray it doesn’t.
3. Have a backup strategy. Generally speaking, get an external harddrive
about 1.5 to 2 times the size of your harddrive and do incremental backups on a regular basis. There are better or other backup options, but for most people at least copying your computer’s harddrive onto that drive on a regular basis will suffice.
4. Keep your computer’s operating system current; update your essential software. And before doing any of these things, do a backup ‘just in case’.
5. Research which systems utilities [software to assist in keeping the computer running in tip-top shape] would work best in your situation and use them on a regular basis [it doesn’t have to be frequent, but at least every now and then]. Programs such as Onyx and others are designed to get rid of unnecessary clutter in the computer’s system without being a ‘computer geek’.
6. There are plenty of Internet articles and magazines devoted to maximizing your use of computers. Apple’s site provides a plethora of manuals and materials, video instruction, and a community of people who can [often] answer your questions. That is true of other sites as well. Use these resources.
7. Do everything you can to stop the spread of disease. People who create viruses an hack into sensitive data do so having a feel for ‘social engineering’, how people will usually act. Don’t act ‘usual’ on your computer. Have and use a virus program [especially if you’re using Windows], don’t click on those irritating blinking rectangles that tell you you’ve won something or need to do something now! If something is that important, you’ll get a phone call not a web-surfing blinking rectangle. As much as possible, avoid sending on chain letters and especially emails with images and pictures. If you get an email from someone you don’t know who has a wonderful opportunity for you, don’t believe it. Things on the Internet which are too good to be true, are.