There are three basic sources of computer problems.
1) Something you did.
2) Something you ALLOWED someone to do.
3) Hardware issues.
Lets look at the last one first.
Computer Problems caused by Hardware issues
This is the least likely source of computer problems. If the computer works well when it is brand new (out of the box), it will likely be some time, even years, before you have to deal with a hardware problem. For example, after 2 or 3 years of intense use, a hard drive can begin to drag and operate slowly, and eventually fail to work, which is why you back up your data. Some upgrades, such as faster video cards, and more ram, will help a computer work faster. However a computer more than 5 years old may not have the potential to be upgraded to run all that newer programs require.
Computer Problems caused by Something you did
If you download free software, you need to know who it is from and what else you may be downloading. It is easy to click-through the options without checking each page so you can start using the software. If you check carefully though, you will often find that some sort of toolbar or other software is included with it. A reputable source will give you the option of unchecking the download of the toolbar, but it will be checked by default. It doesn’t always mean that the added software is bad, but may just be unwanted by you. I have seen computers where the browser had as many as 6 extra search toolbars, none of which were actually being used, but caused the browser to be slower. In other case the sole purpose of the free software is so that they can install something on your computer that will 1) obtain your personal information or 2) use your computer to run some clandestine operation in the background. This tactic has been used to move porn and other information, to and from computers, using your computer as the slave to do it. Once started, it can work without your knowledge, until your computer is so overworked that it starts to slow down. That’s when you realized something is wrong.
Computer Problems caused by something you ALLOWED someone to do
WHAT? I would never allow someone to put stuff on my computer that I don’t want.
First let’s assume that you have a good anti-virus program and firewall running. When you go to download some software, you are warned about malicious files (or code), and recommended not to download. So rather than stop, and investigate the possible danger, you go ahead and download the software. You may even have to disable the anti-virus or firewall to get it. Now you might have computer problems. This would be like opening your front door when someone knocks, and saying with your eyes closed, “I don’t know who you are or why you are here, but COME ON IN!”, and then not opening your eyes.
Depending on where you downloaded from, even a legitimate software may be “bundled” with malicious files. For example, if you download a zip file for your software from a third-party provider, it can contain any number of extra files that you don’t want. Most good anti-virus and malware scanners will find these files and quarantine them. But just to be sure, if you get a warning, don’t ignore it. Do some research or ask someone who can confirm as to whether it is safe. If you have the choice of downloading a known good software from the creator of it, or their own website, you will likely be safer.
Keep spyware and malware scanners and anti-virus programs up to date. If they do not automatically update, find out how to set automatic updates, and be sure to leave it on so it does what it was designed to do, protect you and avoid lots of computer problems.
Good programs to consider are: www.malwarebytes.org, www.vipreantivirus.com, http://www.opendns.com
You can read about them here.
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