I’ve done numerous computer repair jobs. I find that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To borrow a term from my husband, a maintenance technician: computer repair is all about keeping up with PMs (preventative maintenance). Here’s how.
* The best offense is a good defense. Since I don’t always know which programs are going to cause problems, I keep good anti-virus software on my computer. I’ve tried McAffee, Norton, AVG (from Avast) and Kaspersky. AVG is the best free program. You can download it here. Kaspersky is worth paying for, however. I’ve had very poor results with Norton and McAffee.
* Avoid known pitfalls. Malicious software, spyware, Trojans, worms and adware are like parasites on your computer. They are infectious and breed viruses. Don’t open videos or photos from people you don’t know or on Facebook. Don’t open links that your email deems spam, unless you know and trust the source.
* Don’t open free computer scan software. It is especially tenacious. Windows Police Pro will ruin your computer. If you inadvertently open one, don’t click any of the options in the box. Hit the “x” to close it and then immediately close the window. If you can’t do that, close the browser. Run a disk cleanup. Go to Start, then Programs then Accessories then System Tools then Disk Cleanup. If you can’t find it that way, it’s accessible from Control Panel and Search. Restart your computer after you have cleaned it.
* Be careful what you download. Free music and video streaming and viewing sites are some of the most notorious for infecting computers. Avoid downloading Bear Share, Frost Wire and the many free video viewers. Don’t kids use them either.
* Beware of default free toolbars. When you download and install software, by sure to uncheck any free software that comes with it. These will install by default if you don’t uncheck them. They will clog up your computer and make it run slowly. The only sites I’ve not had problems with are the Mozilla Firefox apps. Check for properly vetted apps before using.
* How to get rid of spyware that slips by security: If you keep getting a pop-up when you start your computer, it probably means spyware has attached itself. Run a spyware scan using Windows Defender, usually preloaded on new computer. Access from Control Panel then Security. Run a virus scan.
* Run System Restore. Still popping up? Run a System Restore located under System Tools. Take your computer back to a time when it ran better.
* Use System Configuration. If the software hasn’t gone away, go to Start, then Run. Type “msconfig” to open the System Configuration. Look under the Startup Menu. This lists programs that are set to run automatically. Uncheck any you don’t recognize. Still can’t find it? Look at the pop-up carefully to see which company powers it. Try searching your computer for the file and deleting it manually.
Whenever you make changes, restart your computer. This final step cleans out the last vestiges of the problem and helps prevent reinfection. Can’t restart? Push the “power” button to shut down. Wait ten seconds. Then restart. Make a mental note which software or website caused the problem and avoid it.