Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Protection from computer viruses & accidents

Protect yourself from computer viruses & accidents in Windows

The New York Times published an article this morning that antivirus makers are struggling to keep up with the explosion of new strains of viruses & malware, that it can take a few days or even a few weeks to provide protection against a new strain.

In my experience, your average home or office user utilizes a pretty standard set of programs on a daily basis, that rarely change. For e.g.,  a web browser, word processor, spreadsheet, music/video player & maybe a few games.

My bottom line suggestion, to such users, for protecting yourself against any & all computer threats, including fatal hard drive failures is as follows :

  • Split up your hard drive into  C & D, or better yet, buy two hard drives, storage is cheap these days
  • Install your OS ( windows xp / Vista / 7 / 8 ) on the C drive  &  keep ALL of your data on the D drive
  • When I say ALL, I mean ALL - documents, pictures, videos, music, tax returns, birth certificates, property deeds, etc. In Windows 7 & 8, you can add folders from your D drive to your Document, Picture, Video & Music libraries, so by default Windows would save your data on the D drive.
  • Subscribe to & install a reliable cloud backup service  - Google Drive,  DropBox, Carbonite, SpiderOak, or another. I use Google Drive & SpiderOak.
  • Ensure that your backup service is backing up ALL of your data to the cloud, by logging into their website or interface & checking that your recent files have been backed up.
  • When Windows & all of your programs are working properly, freeze a snapshot of your C drive to a DVD or a Flash Drive using an imaging program like Norton Ghost. If you are running an older version of Windows like XP or Vista, you can make do with an older version of Ghost from  eBay for a couple of bucks.
  • Sit back & enjoy life, you have no worries as far as the information on your computer goes.

For most users, following this procedure will cost around  $5 / month in backup fees (at present Google Drive pricing runs about $5 for 100 GB) and a one time fee for a program like Norton Ghost, but your Operating system & data is secured for good.

There are sound technical reasons behind each step in the above procedure, complete each step, DO NOT take shortcuts.

If you follow the above procedure as prescribed, it does not matter whether your computer gets infected, or hijacked, or low-jacked, or if your hard drive dies, or if you upgrade to a new computer. All of your information & your computer (unless it died), can be fully recovered in a matter of a few minutes to a few hours.

Enjoy !


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