[TIPS] General Computer-Related Best Practices

Monday, February 17, 2014 @ 4:21 am

I’ve decided to compile a list of different best practices when it comes to using and maintaining a clean and malware-free Windows-based computer, along with a list of software I recommend and personally use. The goal of this post is to act as a reference guide for beginner/novice computer users to be self-sufficient and potentially avoid expenses related to malware-cleaning, hardware failure, and/or a computer experience that could be improved.

General Maintenance

Below are procedures/software I often use when cleaning/fixing a computer:

  • Do monthly scans with Malwarebytes Antimalware Free to remove pesky popups and browser hijackers (for troublesome malware, you may need to boot into safe mode and run a scan) (for severe malware infections, I use Combofix, but be careful, it’s a powerful tool so use wisely)
  • Do regular computer clean-ups (removing unneeded files/history) with CCleaner Free (cleaner and registry). Here’s a good walkthrough on how to use it.
  • Try to use Firefox as your default Internet browser (Chrome is good, but its extensions are more often than not to include spyware/tracking largely due to a lax/non-existent extension updating review process (source: I’m a Chrome extension developer))
  • For significant speed increases (if using a non-SSD drive), defragment your computer every now and then with Defraggler
  • There are many antivirus options out there, but my antivirus of choice is Avast Antivirus Free (requires annual renewals, which are free)
  • Run Windows Update and update your computer’s drivers/software to their latest versions to patch vulnerabilities and fix bugs
  • Physical maintenance (at least once every year): clean out keyboard debris with pressured air, vacuum dust from vents, and wipe down your keyboard/screen (walkthrough)

Software Recommendations

Below is a list of software I use almost on a daily basis to complete specific tasks. You’ll note that most are free. The ones that are not free are marked with an * asterisk.

If multiple tools are listed, they are listed in terms of preference from most preferred to least.