Past Issue

Computers - Steps to Clean, Safe, Fast Operation

By Robert Roman

08/01/16

Car wash operators that follow best practices and provide adequate management and staff to ensure an efficient and customer-centric operation are usually rewarded with superior financial performance. Whereas those that do not usually experience below normal profits.

Likewise, people who follow best practices with computer technology are usually rewarded with superior performance. Whereas those that do not may experience all kinds of negative stuff. For example, s-l-o-w computer, programs won’t start up or they crash, buffering, “nag” messages, pop-ups, slow to turn off, blue screen, or worse.

The likelihood of these things happening is greater today because there are simply more people using computer technology — desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.

We are also more connected through e-mail, text messages, Internet, surfing, social media, phone apps, cashless payment, remote monitoring, telecommuting, etc.

However, it is this connectivity or exposure that attracts the spammers, hackers, trackers, extortionists, and other miscreants that haunt the Internet.

What to do about it?

Short of becoming a geek is to simply apply some best practices. This starts with a firewall. In computing, a firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. Make sure the firewall is “turned on” and set to an appropriate level of security.

Next, protect your stuff in the event of computer loss, theft, natural disaster, or accidental deletion. This is accomplished with a back-up strategy, which can be a simple thumb drive (or flash drive); clone or “boot drive,” which is a complete copy of a computer’s primary hard drive; an external hard drive to create an archive of changed and deleted files; or an online “cloud” back-up.

Protect your stuff from malware. Malware refers to a variety of hostile or intrusive software including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransom-ware, spyware, adware, scare-ware, and other malicious programs. This garbage can take the form of executable code, scripts and active content, and other software. Getting rid of this stuff can be accomplished by installing software like Malwarebytes (www.malwarebytes.org).

Anti-malware detects and removes malware on an infected computer. It can run continuously to stop infections before they happen. It blocks sites that deliver malware or are compromised by malware. It targets only active threats allowing for faster analysis. It uses technology to prevent malware from terminating the anti-malware or modifying its processes. Once malware is removed, many of the problems will disappear and computers run faster.

Computers also run faster if the desktop is not all cluttered with executable programs and file folders (i.e. documents, spreadsheets, digital files, etc.). In computing, a desktop environment is a bundle of software programs running on top of a computer operating system (e.g., Windows, Linux, etc.) that share a common graphical user interface (screen). Basically, the more stuff that resides on a desktop, the harder the processor must work. This is remedied by placing only shortcuts on the desktop to access executable programs and user files on the hard drive.

Computers also run faster and with fewer problems if routine maintenance is performed. This means periodic disc clean-up and defragmentation of the hard drive. It’s also a good practice to frequently delete temporary files created from surfing the Internet.

It also pays to delete old software programs that are not used anymore. This frees up disc space and gives hackers and spammers one less target.

For those who want to be proactive, there are other security programs that can be installed. For example, a sandbox (i.e., www.sandboxie.com) is a security mechanism for separating running programs to evaluate un-trusted programs from unverified third parties, suppliers, and un-trusted websites.

Microsoft also has the “free” Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit 3.0 (EMET 3.0). EMET is an anti-exploit tool that’s designed to add security for various software programs running on Windows systems. EMET offers a general protection approach to thwarting exploit code from hackers by blocking or “mitigating” known hacking techniques used on software technologies. The toolkit can even help to protect older software that lacks certain security protections.

 

Bob Roman is president of RJR Enterprises – Consulting Services (www.carwashplan.com). You can reach Bob via e-mail at bob@carwashplan.com.



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