4 ways to protect your computer and make it last longer

July 29, 2015

From shopping to bill-paying to games and e-mail, who would have thought computers would become such an integral part of our lives? Here's how to keep yours working quickly and reliably.

4 ways to protect your computer and make it last longer

1. Have broadband? Get a firewall

  • If you use a DSL or cable modem to connect to the Internet, you have what is known as an always-on connection — that is, your online connection does not shut down when you close your web browser.
  • To protect your computer and your personal information from hacker and virus attacks, it's essential to use a hardware or software firewall.
  • Hardware firewalls are built into network routers and are typically used to share a broadband connection among several PCs in the home.
  • If you have a single computer in your household with an always-on Internet connection, you may opt for a software firewall. There are many excellent and reasonably priced programs available.

2. Don’t switch off an operating PC

  • Never use the power switch to turn off your system while it's still running; always let your operating system shut down your computer.
  • Shutting off the power before the operating system shuts down places a strain on the hard drive and can ultimately result in data loss or a hard-drive failure.
  • Of course, your system may occasionally "lock up" or "freeze," which effectively disables the power-down feature.

3. Protect against blackouts

  • If you are worried about power outages causing you to lose data, purchase an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
  • This is a battery backup system that automatically turns on when the power goes off, giving you time to save your work and shut down your equipment.
  • Of course, you don't have to do this if you use a laptop and you recharge its battery regularly, since the laptop will switch automatically to battery power if it loses line power.

4. Update your computer’s drivers

  • You've probably never loaded a device driver onto your computer; most new systems come with the drivers preinstalled.
  • Yet these sets of software instructions are vital for keeping all the various components in your computer running smoothly and problem-free.
  • Oftentimes, however, equipment manufacturers regard drivers as works-in-progress and will update the software several times for better operation and to correct mistakes in earlier versions.
  • To keep your computer running at top performance, it's a good idea to check online for any driver updates every six months or so — particularly for graphics cards, printers and CD and DVD drives.
  • If your system is still under warranty, the system manufacturer should be able to provide you with any driver updates on its website.
  • If your system warranty's expired, however, a quick Internet search will direct you to the latest drivers for your equipment.
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