tech tips for writers

Tech Tip for Writers #44: Clean Your Computer Weekly

tech tipsTech Tips for Writers is an (almost) weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q:  I’m afraid of getting slammed with viruses, malware, all that bad stuff that comes with visiting the internet. What do I do?

A:  If you take reasonable precautions, the chances of being hit are minimized. Here’s what I do:

  • Don’t download from music or video sites. They have the greatest amount of malware statistically because the Bad Guys know we-all like getting free music and videos.
  • Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel-Administrative Tools
  • Do this every week:

    • defrag your computer. To quote Windows, Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Removable storage devices such as USB flash drives can also become fragmented. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. Run Disc Defrag by going to Control Panel-Administrative Tools–Advanced Tools.
    • Run Spybot or a similar antispyware program. Spybot is free, which is why I like it. I’ve had good luck with it. says this about Spybot: The program checks your system against a comprehensive database of adware and other system invaders. The Immunize feature blocks a plethora of uninvited Web-borne flotsam before it reaches your computer.
    • Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
    • Run Ad-aware once a week to keep malware and spyware off your computer. It has a stellar reputation and is still free to all (although there’s an upgrade that you can pay for).

This is a good start. Let me know if there’s anything else you include in your weekly routine.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in EducationCurrently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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9 thoughts on “Tech Tip for Writers #44: Clean Your Computer Weekly

  1. Pingback: 12 Spring Cleaning Steps for Your Computer | Ask a Tech Teacher

  2. Pingback: 12 Spring Cleaning Steps for Your Computer « Jacqui Murray

  3. Pingback: 12 Spring Cleaning Steps for Your Computer | WordDreams...

  4. Hi Jacqui,

    OK, more questions from the real computer moron – me!

    My son says the same thing about not downloading music and videos. But I don’t even know exactly what that means. (Aren’t you glad you have friends like me who need the most basic computer advice in the world?) Should I save these files first and then open them? Does that mean that we should never go to You Tube and click on a video? Is there any way to safely see something? Am I even asking questions clearly enough that you understand what I’m asking? (A sign of true stupidity: I can’t even ask the questions properly.)

    As you shake your head, please remember that I was born in the last century,




    • Music can safely be downloaded from pay sites such as iTunes, Google Music, but not from the freebie no-name sites. It’s not worth the risk. My son had his new computer crash because he downloaded TV episodes from a pretty reputable and well-used Bit-torrent (something like that) site. In his defense, he didn’t care–he reformatted and was on his way in an hour or two. Me–it would have destroyed my week.

      Watching movies/shows/videos is usually OK, especially from YouTube and Hulu. Most of us have virus protection that prevents unapproved downloads and unwanted viruses. Still, they sneak through. Don’t download from a website you know nothing about. Saving first and then opening does no good.

      While I’m at it, don’t open any links unless you recognize the sender. There’s a popular one going around that says something like ‘look what people are saying about you’ and comes from someone in your address book. These nuts are getting more and more clever.

      Does that help? It’s a www (wild wild world) out there, them against us. We can win!


  5. Such sound advice. I think if it became a weekly habit for everyone, it wouldn’t feel like such a chore when an issue comes up and needs to be dealt with. Like the case with many other things, “out of sight, out of mind” usually means we’re just ignoring something until a problem pops up!


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