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Legal software: it’s obvious, but worth restating: don’t download illegal software or use software from illegitimate sources. People work to create the software we use, so paying them for it is the least we can do. Your perception or opinion that certain software is “junk” or the software creator “is a big, rich company” is not justification for stealing. Antivirus software: If we were super-smart and careful we wouldn’t need antivirus software, and we’d probably be robots, not humans. Let’s face it, Microsoft Windows is a large, attractive target for malware creators. They will try as hard as they can to separate you from your money by way of computer skulduggery. Use decent antivirus software and at least they’ll have to work at it to make your life miserable.Backup: My favorite backup method is disk imaging, using a product called Macrium Reflect from the UK. I like it because it creates a full image of my PC’s hard drive, including Windows, my programs, my documents, settings, everything. That image, saved to an inexpensive external hard drive, can serve two uses. The first is disaster recovery. If my hard drive fails, I put a new one in, boot from a Macrium rescue CD I created, and restore the drive from the image I created earlier. All done! The second use involves me goofing up. I accidentally delete a set of files I need and have (efficiently!) emptied the Recycle Bin. No problem. I attach my external hard drive to the PC, and double-click on the file which is the latest Macrium image I created. The image is assigned a drive letter and the files in the backup image are accessible. I can copy the files I need from the backup to my regular hard drive. Crisis averted!Another way to backup is using cloud services like Mozy or Carbonite. You can’t create a whole disk image as you can with Macrium, but you can certainly preserve your important files easily and quickly using those services. In a pinch you can always save files to a USB flash drive now and then. You still have lots of work to do if your hard drive fails, but at least you’ll have a copy of files that are most important to you.
A few good computing habits can keep you and your PC happy. These habits include using these things:Only legal softwareAn antivirus programA backup program or twoOther things to consider:Turn off or unplug your PC during a thunderstorm (not all surge suppressors are created equal).Turn off the PC when you’re not using it unless you have a great battery backup or a very reliable power company.Password protect your PC.