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Computer Stuff FAQ

I receive many ques­tions from friends and fam­i­ly about using the inter­net and com­put­ers in gen­er­al. I don’t mind answer­ing them, but since the same ques­tions do come up fre­quent­ly, this is the eas­i­est way to answer them. Some of it is also intend­ed as reas­sur­ance, because many peo­ple are undu­ly intim­i­dat­ed by com­put­ers and the inter­net. I use Win­dows for the most part at home, so the resources I list here are def­i­nite­ly slant­ed towards that plat­form.

Please Read This, At Least

If you’re read­ing this, you’re on the net, right? And that means that you should be aware of and pro­tect­ing your­self against cer­tain risks. Just as you need more immu­niza­tions when trav­el­ing in cer­tain areas of the world than you do if you’re just hang­ing around your home­town, you need to be more aware of secu­ri­ty and antivirus pro­tec­tion if you have your com­put­er con­nect­ed to the net than you did when you just used it for word pro­cess­ing and games.

Acquire an antivirus pro­gram. Install it, con­fig­ure it, and keep it updat­ed regularly—I sug­gest dai­ly updates at the very least if you’re a heavy inter­net user. If you down­load a lot of files — espe­cial­ly if you get into warez—be even more care­ful.

If you have a broad­band con­nec­tion (cable modem, ISDN or DSL), you need both a hard­ware and a soft­ware fire­wall (go try Shields Up to see how vul­ner­a­ble you are). Today I use a com­bi­na­tion of Kasper­sky and Mal­ware­bytes on our PCs along with a cou­ple of oth­er tools. We reg­u­lar­ly have strangers sniff­ing at our fire­wall with var­i­ous tro­jans, but they did­n’t get through.

If you want more infor­ma­tion, read some of this:

While we’re talk­ing about virus­es, don’t both­er for­ward­ing virus alerts. Any of them. Or any oth­er email that includes pleas for you to for­ward it to lots of oth­er peo­ple.