Get A Faster, Safer PC (Part 2) - Clean a PC and keyboard, Prevent PC hacks

4/3/2012 5:33:42 PM

Get A Faster, Safer PC (Part 2)

The big clean up

A cleaner PC is a better PC. Not only is it easier to find items you need, but it will run faster if its processors can breathe and its fans works efficiently. Using your computer will also be an altogether more pleasant experience if the screen and keyboard are clean of smears and crumbs.

Clean a PC and keyboard

Description: Clean a PC and keyboard

PC: Unplug everything, and open the case. Remove large clumps of dust or hair by hand; then use short blasts of compressed air (from the inside out) to blow dust and debris off fans, wires surfaces with a moist, clean cloth. Don’t get anything noticeably wet, and give the PC time to dry before plugging it in.

Keyboard: turn off the PC and use a can of compressed air to blast dust and debris from beneath the keys. Use a cloth moistened with a mild cleaning solution, such as an alcohol and water mix, to wipe surfaces. If the keyboard is filthy, gently pry off the keys, clean them, and snap them back in place don’t try this on a laptop keyboard.

Prevent PC hacks


Description: Zone Alarm

Ensure that your software is up to date and install any Windows Updates as soon as possible. Most major commercial software products have automatic updating optios.

Distrust unexpected email attachments. Remain wary even if they come from someone you know. Also beware of shorted URLs on social networks. Cybercriminals hide link to malicious websites or downloads behind shortened URLs, and they may route poisoned links through messages from people you know and otherwise trust.

Install a link checker plug in. AVG LinkScanner (, McAfee SiteAdvisor ( and Norton Safe WebLite ( are free tools that can identify any malicious links in search results and when you’re browsing the web.

Use up to date antivirus software. Malware evolves quickly, and an antivirus product without the latest updates may not block the latest threats effectively. If you haven’t updated your antivirus software, do it now.

Defend your PC against attacks

An infected PC may be sluggish or crash-prone. The malware plaguing it may flood your screen with pop ups, even if your browser isn’t running. If you navigate to one website, the rogue app might redirect you to another. And malware may prevent you from updating your security software.

Consult Microsoft’s three-step guide to removing malware at If your system has a stubborn infection, try the free Norton Power Erase ( It can identify and remove malware.

PC Tools’ free Threatfire ( is worth downloading, too: it gives your system an extra layer of protection.

Load secure sites faster

We’ve found certain sites slow to load in Google Chrome and Firefox. When we looked into the cause, we found a McAfee SiteAdvisor extension we hadn’t purposely installed. Disabling this resulted in faster page loads. There’s nothing wrong with SiteAdvisor, but excessive security software does more harm than good, so use a minimal set of tools. A good alternative is WOT (

Power down and save

Wasting electricity is bad for your blank account and the planet and it’s probably bad for the PC. But shutting down and booting up takes an age.

While some people argue that shutting down a PC and then starting it up from cold causes more wear and tear than leaving it on for 12 hours, we aren’t convinced. All PCs are at risk of suffering from heat problems, and one that never gets a chance to cool down will be under more heat stress.

Besides, a computer that’s turned off is a computer that can’t catch a malware infection (or if it’s already been infected, it can’t behave under orders sent from afar).

As we said earlier, if you don’t like to start your PC fresh each day, you can hibernate it rather than shutting it down. From the hardware and power consumption points of view, there’s no difference between shutting down a PC and hibernating it. But a shutdown system will give Windows a fresh start, clear of any digital cobwebs it may have acquired since its last boot. A hibernated PC will wake up where you left it, with the same programs, files and windows open.

An alternative to hibernate mod is sleep mode, a short term power saving option that saves power but, unlike hibernation, doesn’t turn it off. The best solution is to shut down at least once a week to clear those cobwebs.

Power down with the power button

It is intuitive to use the power button to switch off your PC, but it’s not the way Microsoft configures Windows. Right click the Start menu to bring up the Propertied dialog, and you can then specify that when you press the power button your PC should power down.

Improve your own efficiency


Email alert

Returning to work after a break usually means dealing with an email mountain. It’s best to stay on top of things by routinely checking and deleting messages. If you’re routinely swamped, however, a colour coding and filling system many help. Start from the newest emails and work back, skim reading subject lines and glancing at the sender name. Any from your boss need to be addressed; any from your mates will have to wait; anything else with firm deadline then needs to be sifted through. False bank messages and PayPal notifications should be flagged ad phishing spam. Raising your security filler is advisable if you have many such emails.

Ignore anything that doesn’t fit into any of the above categories and that hasn’t got a self-explanatory subject line. Why waste time opening a message just to find it’s yet another sales pitch?

Use filers to categorise and organise anything you need to keep or file. If you’re still deluged, change the frequency settings to check for new mail less frequently. To change the setting in Outlook click File, Options, Advanced and scroll down the ‘Send and receive’ options.

Unsocialise for a while

Email used to be the single most distracting and time consuming aspect of the working day. Twitter and Facebook are other notable time-killers. If you just can’t afford ro spend time responding to messages, log out of both.

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