- Avoid falling for scams that claim your PC is infected. These happen with misrepresented phone calls or online popups that claim to be from Microsoft and give you a toll free number to call. Microsoft does not do these things. Never let a stranger remotely take over your computer. They will trick you into believing that a Windows log file indicates problems. It’s a lie. While they have control of your computer they may plant scripts that cause real problems at a later time, copy your personal files, and ask for your credit card number to “fix” problems that don’t really exist. If you know someone that innocently fell for this scam, have them call us at (309) 751-4490.
- New computer viruses and malware are more likely to infect an out of date, unpatched computer. It is important to keep your antivirus program, Java (if your PC has it), and anything from Adobe up to date. For Windows 10, Windows Defender is currently very effective as the four other free AV programs
- Install Sandboxie (download from www.sandboxie.com), setup and then use a Sandboxed Web Browser that will prevent rogue program downloads and system changes. To allow downloads outside of the Sandboxie container, you “recover” them. Sandboxie works with most web browsers. To use it you need to click on the Sandboxed Web Browser icon. This will open your default web browser inside of a “sandbox”. When given an option, after closing the browser, select “Delete Contents”. A small annoyance of Sandboxie is that four weeks after it is first installed a “nag screen” appears on the free version that makes you wait five seconds. Then you click a bar to continue. Do not install programs within a sandboxed web browser without recovering them first. Programs won’t install properly in the sandbox and will be removed when the sandbox is cleared. Your browser will not update when sandboxed. Preventing changes to your computer is the purpose of the sandbox. Keep in mind that from our experience Sandboxie is compatible with over 90%, but not all, of computers. As browsers get updated to improve their own security, and other system changes occur, Sandboxie may stop working on one or more browsers. Go to Sandboxie.com to download an update that should fix issues you may be having. The download link is on the line under the two “BUY NOW” boxes. Also, don’t try to make program changes to your browser when it’s sandboxed. They won’t stick. Make browser updates and settings changes in the regular, unsandboxed version to save them. Scamming tricks can still happen in the Sandboxed browser. Just restart your PC and the locked screen will be gone. Do not be tricked by scammers.
- Make frequent backups of your data files. Don’t learn the hard way! We recommend using Macrium Reflect to make full drive images onto a portable hard drive for system recovery in case of drive failure of Windows PC’s. Safely remove the portable hard drive after you have made your backup so it is offline and ready for the next use. If you own a laptop, use a high capacity SDHC card for Windows 8.x or 10 File History backups. Consider cloud storage as secondary backups, because it takes much longer to recover cloud backed up files than ones on a portable hard drive in your possession. Never click on a link or an attachment in an e-mail from anyone, unless you expected a file from them. Spammers and bad guys have no qualms faking any email address. Web mail offers the advantage of running under Sandboxie where you can right mouse click on links and select “Open in new tab” to prevent infections from being unleashed on your computer, but only if you always surf the web with the sandboxed web browser and don’t recover possibly infected items.
- Use a battery backup/UPS (uninterruptible power supply) with desktop computers to ensure clean power enters the PC and to prevent shutdown, which can corrupt files, during brown outs or power outages. A minimum power rating of 350 VA is recommended. A UPS battery normally lasts three to four years. With laptops use a laptop cooling stand for optimum longevity.
- If you start hearing clicking or dull clanging sounds from your PC, or see warning messages that the hard drive needs files backed up and replaced, the hard disk drive is failing. Back up all data immediately and have the drive tested and replaced. Or, turn the PC off and call us at (309) 751-4490 to do the work for you.
- Perform basic weekly maintenance. Run ccleaner, do a quick defrag on a hard disk drive or TRIM (quick optimize) on an SSD, and Malwarebytes (click the big Scan Now button, it will update automatically and run a full scan that may take 20 minutes or so) to help clean junk out of your system. Malwarebytes Free will try to get you to pay for an upgrade that you do not need. Don’t click on any buttons other than Scan Now.
Macrium Reflect – Recommended Steps to Make a System Image onto a portable hard drive, or network storage.
1) Plug in the portable hard drive then open the Reflect program.
2) Click on the underlined “Image this disk…” under the drive you want to back up. Back up every partition to avoid data loss.
3) A new box appears. In the bottom half of it, under Destination, select the portable hard drive where the image will be saved to. If you have already backed up to the drive on the same computer, the destination folder should be preselected. If not, click on the “…” button to the right. A new window will appear. From here, select the drive or folder where the image will be saved, then click “OK”. If you already ran the program it will show the last location saved to.
4) Un-check “Use the Image ID…” box and enter a name for the system image. Click “Finish” after providing a file name. We recommend using the PC’s name and the date for the file name. Doing this lets you use the same portable hard drive to store easily identifiable images from multiple PC’s, allowing for easier disaster recovery.
5) On the next window, make sure “Run this backup now” is checked. Un-check “Save this backup as an XML…”, then click “OK” to begin the system image. When completed, safely remove the portable hard drive.