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Scott Nason - Director of Technology

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Windows PC Maintenance 2017

For those of you using Windows devices for personal or business use, there are a few things you can do to keep your machine running well. There are also some things you need to know with regard to age of device and anticipated end of life for computers and operating systems.
Computers purchased more than five years ago were a significant investment – however, they are living beyond their useful life. On average, a personal computer’s expected life span is about five years. Now, some devices will last longer – but the operating system installed may be out of date which may put you at risk of being hacked.

Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP a few years ago. What does that mean? It means that Microsoft has stopped developing patches to fix security issues within the operating system. Any device running Windows XP is susceptible to computer viruses and being hacked. Hackers work hard to exploit software bugs to enable them to gain access to personal computers. When an operating system is no longer supported by the developers, “holes” or bugs in the software are not fixed. Even the best antivirus programs out there may not be able to help.

Soon, even Windows 7 and Windows 7 Professional will no longer be supported by Microsoft. This is why having a strategy to replace a personal computer every 4-5 years is good practice. When you get a new device it will have the latest operating system installed – as of right now that would be Windows 10. You are guaranteed that the developer will be supporting that OS through the end of the devices expected useful life.

With computers purchased within the last five years running supported operating systems there are a few things you can do to keep it running smooth and prevent being hacked. Businesses and schools typically have layers of protection that help protect devices – however, it’s only when those devices are inside the network. A firewall is a piece of hardware that provides the first line of defense in an enterprise network. You can create a hardware layer of protection at home by purchasing a third party router that connects to your modem. Connecting directly to a modem is not the best idea – as many hackers snoop around for those IP addresses and can access personal computers more easily. Having a router handle internet traffic at your home is one great way to protect your devices. Here are a list of best practices for your personal device:

  • Install and update antivirus software (like Avast, Kaspersky, Norton)
  • Install and run antimalware software regularly
    • Malwarebytes offers a free version that will scan and remove malicious software
  • Install and run registry cleaning software like CCleaner from Piroform
    • Run the disk cleaner to remove unnecessary files, cookies and downloads.
    • Run the registry cleaner to remove unnecessary registry items bogging down your device.
  • Keep your operating system up to date by turning on Windows Update.
  • Always shut down and restart your computer.