392 (30/08/05) Ten Top Tips
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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