Spring Cleaning Your Computer

Welcome to Spring!

Just like cleaning your house and getting the garden ready for spring, your computer needs occasional attention.  Getting your computer into shape is straight forward.  There are four areas and we’ll run through them at a steady pace.


Getting your computer into shape will give you peace of mind, knowing that the parts of the puzzle will look after themselves once in place.  Here are the 4 four steps to getting your computer security into shape.

Automatic updates Microsoft and Apple release security updates in response to newly discovered threats.  You can keep abreast of these by downloading the latest patches automatically.  Instructions for how to do this are here for Windows or here for Mac.

Antivirus & firewall Antivirus software monitors your system and eliminates a wide range of malicious software that may try to run on your computer.  Your firewall controls what traffic may enter and leave your computer to keep hackers and others at arms’ length.  While checking these are running is more pressing for Windows users, Macs should also have an antivirus and firewall enabled.

The second opinion for Windows users Windows users have the dubious privilege of more spyware and other malicious software aimed at them.  Since no scanner is 100% effective, it is useful to run a manual scanner once a month for a second opinion.  Despite its silly name, Malwarebytes Anti-malware is an outstanding program that scans your computer and removes threats.  Here is a step-by-step guide to installing and using Malwarebytes.

Boost your online protection with an advertisement blocker and Web Of Trust (WOT) Among the wide range of useful additions to your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc.), these two are particularly useful for basic web security and a better surfing experience.

Advertisement blockers do just that.  Without adverts, pages look more pleasant but more importantly you have less opportunity to click accidentally on an unwanted link.  If you use Safari or Chrome then I recommend Adblock.  For other browsers, Adblock Plus does a good job.

Web of Trust (WOT) is ‘a website reputation and review service that helps people make informed decisions about whether to trust a website or not’.  Based on a traffic-light indication system, WOT will warn you about sites that have a poor reputation and which you might prefer to avoid.  It is available for all major browser programs.

Rubbish clearance

Occasionally clearing out the temporary files from your computer will help your computer to run efficiently and also erases your ‘cookie-trail’.  Cookies are the files set by many websites to enhance your experience of the site.  However, other sites can also read cookies on your system to know more about your browsing habits, or even deliberately set cookies used for identifying and tracking your computer.  No cookies means less information for casual prying websites about where you have been and what you have done.  Ccleaner is a simple solution that makes short work of the various cleaning processes.  Here is a clear guide to using Ccleaner, although I would advise against proceeding beyond step 14.

Do you need to make a backup of your computer?

Your computer backup is the next port of call.  Having a backup is rather like driving with a seatbelt: it is reassuring to know you have it should you require it.

Here is the test for whether you need to backup your files:  If the prospect of your photographs, music and documents vanishing permanently and without warning makes you uncomfortable then you need to backup your files.

Backing up your computer is simple with a few easy steps.  Here you can browse through the options for your laptop / desktop, your tablet and your mobile phone.