BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2005

  

 

BOOT CAMP 392 (30/08/05)  Ten Top Tips

 

When the first episode of Boot Camp appeared in December 1997 the home computer market and the Internet were just starting to take off in a big way and it was immediately obvious that the infernal machine and the web was going to have an enormous impact on all of our lives. It has been a tremendous learning experience for all of us and Daily Telegraph readers have proved to be a highly accurate barometer of the real world of computing so I thought I would round off the series with a few of the things it has taught me.

 

Computers are a fantastically complicated collection of components and programs that somehow, and against all the odds work most of the time, but when they go wrong they may do so in a spectacular fashion. It normally starts with something quite trivial and easily fixed but the cascade effect kicks in and more often than not descends into chaos. This can result in the loss of irreplaceable or valuable data so my first pearl of wisdom is make frequent backups. If the worst happens, and have no doubts that it will, you should never be in the position of loosing more than a few minutes or hours worth of work.

 

If you are in a hole stop digging! When a problem occurs it is probably be due to something that you have just done, and more often than not associated with the installation of a new piece of software or hardware. Rather than pressing on regardless and try to fix the fault take a step back. Uninstall the offending item and get the system back up and running and do not try again until you have checked with the manufacturer for known problems or compatibility issues.

 

Before buying a new piece of hardware or software carefully check the 'System Requirements' label on the box. If your PC doesn't comfortably exceed the minimum specification don't buy it, or upgrade.

 

If you are using Windows ME or XP always set a manual Restore Point before installing any software or hardware. Only install one thing at a time and always reboot afterwards, even if you are not asked to do so, to make sure the new addition is properly bedded in and everything is still working properly.

 

When installing new software, especially if it is something you have downloaded from the Internet, read the End User Licence Agreement (EULA). Yes, I know they are boring, long-winded and difficult to understand but once you click the 'I Agree' button you could be giving permission for all sorts of iffy things to be loaded onto your PC. If you have any doubts 'Google' the name of the program, followed by the word 'problem' and see what that throws up.

 

During an installation always read the dialogue boxes that appear. Don't just click the OK buttons; you may be given options that could have a serious impact on the operating system and the other programs that are installed on your machine.

 

Do not set foot on the Internet unless you have decent anti virus software installed on your PC and ensure that it is constantly updated, hopefully on a daily or weekly basis. You should also have a Firewall, preferably something a little more sophisticated than the one that comes with Windows XP. Scan your PC for 'malware' at least once a week with something like Spybot or AdAware. Be wary of 'anti spyware' programs touted on websites, some of them carry an infectious payload or generate 'false positives' to scare you into buying them. Don't forget you can avoid a lot of problems simply by switching to an alternative browser, like Mozilla Firefox, which isn't being so aggressively targeted by spyware, adware and the multitude of nasties sloshing around the web, designed to attack or infect Internet Explorer.  

 

Maintain your PC's security system by downloading the latest Windows updates. It should happen automatically but visit the Microsoft website every so often just to make sure.

 

You haven't won the Toronto State Lottery and the gentleman or lady from west Africa, purporting to represent the interests of a deceased government official is not going to give you a share of a forgotten bank account, nor are they dying of an incurable disease. PayPal, Ebay, American Express, Barclays Bank and so on are not going to suspend your account unless you reveal your details to them and those tempting offers of work and get rich plans are all scams, so don't bother reading Spam email, and never respond or you will only get lots more. Stay away from dodgy porn sites and pirate downloads but you knew that already.

 

Do not click on unexpected email attachments, even if they are from someone that you know. You can always email them to ask them what it is, otherwise ignore or delete. 

 

 

JARGON FILTER

 

FIREWALL

Program that monitors an Internet connection, preventing unauthorised access by hackers. Most commercial firewalls also stop programs on a PC from using the Internet connection without permission

 

MALWARE

Malicious or intrusive software, (aka spyware, adware, trojans, premium rate diallers etc.), often inadvertently downloaded from websites, that make adverts appear, track your on-line activities or send private and personal information from your PC

 

RESTORE POINT

A backup of important system files created by the Windows ME and XP System Restore facility, used to return a PC to a previous known good configuration

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