Thursday Apr 24, 2014
Routine maintenance PDF Print
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Written by Alan Thornton   
Thursday, 30 September 2004 19:00
Do small businesses, families, or individuals need IT consultants? Should they just wait to call a repair person when something goes horribly wrong?

Do small businesses, families, or individuals need IT consultants? Should they just wait to call a repair person when something goes horribly wrong?

The consultant's goal is to help you maintain the health and usefulness of your system. A computer repair specialist could have a vested interest in fixing one problem after another. The question comes down to how much effort we want to spend on prevention and how much on cure. Let's consider what sub-corporate level users know about maintaining their computer systems as opposed to their automobiles.

We believe in preventative maintenance for our cars, right? We change the oil almost as frequently as the manufacturers recommend. We certainly manage to take an occasional look at the fuel gauge rather than waiting for the vehicle to coast to an unscheduled stop.

Someone taught us to care for our cars and someone may need to help us learn to care for our information systems. So, here are a few tidbits that Dad would tell you about your computer if it were a car:

-- Letting the subscription to your antivirus definitions lapse or not installing Windows updates is like failing to change the oil in your car. At some point, you'll end up on the side of the Infobahn wishing you'd done some routine maintenance.

-- When you go out on a date with the Internet, be sure to use some protection in the form of a firewall. If you have a home or office network setup, your router will handle this pretty well. If not, you need a software firewall like Zone Alarm, one that comes from Microsoft either with Windows XP or with XP SP2.

-- Another way to leave yourself open to harm is to run an unencrypted wireless network. WEP encryption, while not perfect, is easy to deploy by following the instructions that accompany your wireless router. Even with encryption, you should share as little of your hard drive as possible. This is also important if you use public wireless connections. In fact, you need to know how to turn off all file sharing when you're surfing in public or your data may be an open book. Also, you should assume that your Web surfing is visible to the world when you and your latte are sharing a coffee shop connection.

-- To stay private in these environments, you might want to surf covertly through a service like The Cloak >www.the-cloak.com/anonymous-surfing-faq.html

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