Top 10 Safe Computing Tips

Just when you thought you were finally comfortable with the computer, along comes another thing to learn...security. With more and more people online, it's no surprise that we have to be increasingly careful about what we do and where we go online. Also, we need to understand at least a little about safe computing and avoiding things like spyware. Spyware is one of those unfortunate side effects of computer technology and can have serious cause damage, both online and offline. These programs cause anything from annoying advertisements to appear at random to monitoring your web surfing and keystrokes so others can steal your info. But you don't have to be a computer scientist to combat this growing problem. Some basic safe computing tips will help you avoid spyware and other similar internet nasties.

As scary as the idea of spyware might sound, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. First, there are quite a few things you can do to reduce the risk of a spyware infection or avoid it altogether. And for the most part, all of these things are plain old good computer security practices anyway and apply to issues besides spyware, making this a good list to for all computer users to review. Here are some preventative measures you can take:

1.Keep your software up-to-date
This mainly includes your operating system (Microsoft Windows for most of us) and your web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, etc.). Usually, most of these programs can be set to automatically update themselves or prompt you when an update is available. Go ahead and take a few minutes to do that whenever you're prompted. It can save you hours of headaches in the future if it helps protect your system.

2.Be cautious about which sites you download programs from
There are tons of free programs, movies, games and other software all over the internet. However, some of these programs (like the toolbar example mentioned above) are havens for spyware. All free programs aren't bad, but just like in the real world, be careful about "taking candy from strangers."

3.If you don't know what a program is, don't run it or install it
If you're on a Windows machine and see an unknown file ending in .exe, you probably shouldn't run it until you determine what that program is. To find out what a program might be, try going to Google and doing a search for that file name. It will only take a minute and could save you from a huge hassle later on.

4.If you're getting bombarded with pop-up ads, don't click on any of them. If you do click on them, you may inadvertently load a spyware program on your computer. This includes links that say something like "Click Here to Close." Use the little orange "X" in the corner of the window instead, and that will close the window without you needing to click on anything in the advertisement.

5.Don't click on any links that are in email SPAM
It doesn't matter what the offer is if you're getting emails and you don't know the sender or didn't subscribe to that site's newsletter, etc. then you should avoid the ads and delete the email. Some of those emails will just lead to more SPAM, and if they're offering software, the software can be riddled with spyware.

6.Another handy device is the wireless mini-mouse
Not Mickey's girlfriend, we're talking about a mouse that is a little smaller than the rest. Because it is wireless, it will fit into your bag a lot easier, and you will enjoy being able to point and click with a lot more ease. These also plug and play which means that you can just simply plug in the USB receiver, and off you go!

7.Keeping your laptop cool is a priority
If you think of it as not being a convenience, consider how inconvenient it would be if your laptop overheated, burned a hole in your best comforter and lost the pictures from the family reunion! A way to keep your laptop cool is needed. There are a couple of items on the market right now that will help. Fundamentally these are solid trays, much like a breakfast tray, with a built in fan. If you do a lot of work in bed, these are perfect.

8.Also consider a can of air as a possibility to keep your laptop nice and cool
Blowing out the fan and the keyboard periodically will help keep dust build up down. This is pretty significant. While not exactly a laptop accessory tip, here's a tip for you anyway" have your laptop cleaned up and serviced by a professional every so often.

9.Transporting your laptop is a major ordeal.
A hard laptop case is preferred to protect your screen and your laptop's guts. Unfortunately, it screams out that you own a laptop. Some people do not like that. There are backpack laptop cases that work well. At the very least though, make sure that they have some padding on the inside. As weird as it sounds, it's easy to forget there is a laptop in there, so making sure you have as much protection as possible is a good idea.

10.Remember when shopping for your laptop accessories to stick with what you will use often.
We all have our different needs, so some online comparative shopping on the various accessories will help you find what you need and make a little price comparison. Keep your laptop safe and humming right along and it will always be nice back. In some ways, it's like a faithful puppy, only without the taking it for a walk thing.