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Keep your data safe and your system running smoothly with the following tips and advice!

1. Make sure you have an antivirus program with up-to-date virus definitions. A virus can cause untold damage to your data and system files. We get in a lot of infected computers with anti-virus software installed, but the definitions were never updated!

2. Beware of anything "free" on the Internet. Anything you download for free may carry the price of spyware which can mess up your PC in no time. If you use a file sharing utility such as Kazaa or Morpheous to download "free" songs there is a good chance you will get infected with viruses or spyware. Sites that offer cheat codes or tips for gaming are also notorious for loading spyware onto PCs.

3. Install and run on a regular basis a spyware removal program such as Ad-aware or Spybot Search and Destroy. Spyware is not removed by antivirus programs but can cause many problems including popups, slow internet connection, program crashes, and system lockups.

4. Be sure your computer is plugged into a surge protector and not just a power strip. A nearby lightning strike or a regular power surge can destroy your system.

5. Take the time to make backups of all your important data. You'd be surprised at how many failed hard drives we see... and the data is lost.


Follow the Computer Maintenance Checklist below:

1. Update Virus and Spyware Definitions
How: To update definitions you must be connected to the Internet. If you are using Norton Anti-Virus, open the program and the click "Live Update". Other anti-virus programs have a similar update feature. The same with spyware removal programs. Look for and buttons or links that say "update".

2. Run a Full Scan
How: Just updating antivirus or spyware is not enough. To remove any infections you must run the scan. Look for buttons or links that say "scan", or "check for problems".

3. Back up Your Important Data
How: In order to do this you must have some kind of backup device, such as a CD burner, Zip drive, second hard drive, or a network connection to another computer. You can backup to a floppy disk, but this won't be very useful because a floppy does not have a very big capacity. In windows, use can use the Backup program. Select Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup. However this utility is not installed by default on Windows XP Home edition.

4. Run Disk Cleanup
How: This program gets rid of all the unnecessary files building up on your computer. In Windows, Select Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup


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