Protecting Your Computer

To keep your computer and network use safe, follow these steps:

Back up important data frequently to an external drive

The hard drive in your computer, which stores your files, music, photos, and all other data, is prone to failure. The small hard drives found in notebook computers are particularly susceptible to damage from bumps and shocks. To avoid losing your important information, be sure to frequently save your files to an external hard drive, flash drive, or online storage service such as Dropbox.

Use strong passwords

You will find yourself using a password for nearly all your online activities. Particularly where personal, financial, and academeic data is being accessed, it is critical that a strong password, containing at least 8 characters and using both letters and numbers, be used.

Use an updated and secure browser

Ensure you are using the most up-to-date version of your preferred browser.  Visit the web sites for Internet ExplorerMozilla FirefoxGoogle Chrome or Apple Safari to ensure you are up-to-date.

Be cautious when visiting unknown Web sites

When visiting a web site you've never seen before, always be cautious in what you do. Some sites will display alerts asking you to install new software. If you did not initiate the request or don't know if you can trust the web site, then don't allow it to install.

Be suspicious of links in e-mails or instant messages

Many common viruses spread by send links to everyone in a user's email addressbook or instant messengers buddy list. Even if the link comes from someone you know, also verify that they intended to send you the link before following it.

Scan your computer regularly for viruses and spyware

By installing valid antivirus software, you will be less likely to get virus and spyware infections. However, if you regularly turn your computer off at night, the automatic scan my not have an opportunity to run. In that case, you can simply run an "On-Demand Scan" to make sure your system is clean.  Remember, no antivirus or antispyware software can protect against all security vulnerabilities.

Keep your operating system and 3rd party CDs at school

If the software on your hard drive becomes damaged, it may be necessary to reinstall your operating system to repair your computer. Most new computers will either come with a copy of the operating system on CD or contain a "restore partition" as part of the hard drive. The CDs will be usually labeled "Windows", "Mac OS X", "Operating System", "System Restore", or "System Repair".

Avoid sharing your computer with others

Unfortunately, not everyone is as careful as they should be when using a computer. If you allow a friend or roommate to work on your computer, make sure they know not to install any software and following the other safe-computing practices outlined on this page.

Lock your room door to prevent theft

Notebook computers and tablets, in particular, are very popular targets for theft as they are expensive and easy to hide. Whenever you leave your room, even if you expect to be only a minute, be sure to lock your door behind you. You may also with to invest in a security lock that will allow you to attach your computer to a desk or table.  Anti-theft software is also available at a discounted-rate through The Tech Spot.

Keep liquids away from your computer at all times

One of the most destrucive substances to a computer is water as it can cause the internal circuitry to fry. Be sure to keep water and all other food and liquids away from your computer. If you do accidentally spill something on your computer, immediately disconnect it from the power outlet and remove the battery. Use a towel to mop up as much of the liquid as you can. DO NOT attempt to turn it back on until it has had at least a full 24 hours to dry.

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