2016 Guide to Maintaining Your Computer

If you’re a small business owner, computer technology is one of the most vital tools at your disposal. Whether it’s a desktop, laptop, or a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone, there’s no denying how crucial computers have become in our daily tasks. They allow us to communicate with customers and colleagues around town and across the world, help us create important files, and allow us to track and store reams of vital records.

Given how high and dry most small business owners would be if their costly computing devices stopped working, it’s surprising many people don’t take better care of them. On February 8, as we mark Clean Out Your Computer Day, here are some tips to help maintain your most crucial machines.

Keep your operating system up to date

Although it may seem time consuming to install every new update to your computer’s operating system that comes along, it’s actually a wise investment. Those updates, frequent though they may be, help keep you protected against new threats and vulnerabilities, which are evolving and emerging all the time, and also ensure that your machine continues to operate at peak efficiency.

Pack it properly

The portability of sleek ultrabooks and multi-functional tablets has made working from multiple locations easier than ever. But before you head around the corner to perform a sales pitch for a customer or answer some emails at the local coffee shop, make sure you’ve got proper protection for your device in the form of a padded bag or sleeve, preferably one that resists liquid spills. The last thing you want is a latte leaking all over your laptop, or a tablet tragedy when you drop your device while fumbling for your car keys.

Think twice before you click

Whether it’s a phony website or an attachment included in an email that appears to be from a trusted friend, there’s no shortage of links out there that lead to potentially damaging places. Before downloading anything online or opening up attachments from your inbox, take a moment to consider whether you’ll regret it. If there’s any doubt, don’t do it. When you receive an unexpected message from a contact that appears to be a phishing scam, reply to the sender and ask “Is this really from you?”

Set strong passwords

The danger of devices being hacked gets greater all the time, so it’s important to do what you can to avoid becoming a victim. One way to enhance the security of your machines is by setting strong passwords and updating them regularly. Make sure you use a different password for each device and avoid anything that’s easy to guess by staying away from real words – you’re better off with randomized combination of numbers and letters, including a mix of upper and lower case characters. If it’s too much of a struggle to keep track, install a password manager, such as Dashlane. For an additional layer of security when using online services such as Google, you can set up two-step verification process to help prevent hacker attacks.

Avoid excess apps

A dramatic rise in the use of apps has changed our computing habits. However, many of us still have a whole host of apps installed on our machines that we’ve given up using, or replaced with new programs. The result is digital clutter that eats up storage space and erodes battery life on laptops and mobile devices. Take stock of any excess apps and programs on your computer and delete all those that have outlived their usefulness.

Use a surge protector

Plugging your devices straight into the nearest electrical outlet might seem perfectly harmless, but the truth is that wall sockets don’t always provide a consistent voltage. Whether it’s caused by electrical storms, power outages or simply some sort of malfunction with the system, your computer can receive a quick power spike or even a prolonged surge in voltage, either one of which can cause serious damage. Protect yourself by using a surge protector (which is different than a regular power strip) that blocks excess voltage. If you have phone and cable wires plugged into your machine, remember that these can also carry power spikes, so look for a surge protector that has connectors for them as well.

Franchise Opportunities Are Available