Sunday, July 7, 2013

Faster, better, stronger: Get your PC in tip-top shape

Trying to keep your PC running smoothly sometimes feels like an impossible task. Windows is prone to all kinds of bloat, which can bog down your PC or—in severe cases—even render a system functionally useless. Over time, it’s almost impossible to prevent unsavory apps and other files from infiltrating a Windows PC, regardless of how careful a user you may be. There are simply too many ways for junk to seep its way in.

With regular maintenance and a bit of effort, however, it’s possible to keep a Windows system relatively clean and performing at its peak. Some of the things we’re going to cover here may be second nature to long-time PC aficionados, but these tips should come in quite handy for casual users. At the very least they’ll help you keep your system clean, updated, and better protected from potential threats.

Update, update, update

Keeping your software updated can help plug security holes and ensure optimal performance.

Vulnerabilities in Windows and many popular applications are quite common. To mitigate the possibility of such vulnerabilities being exploited on your system, it’s important to keep your OS and all of your applications patched and up to date. If you haven’t already set Windows to automatically update, do so now by opening the System and Security settings in the control panel, clicking Windows Update near the bottom-left of the window, and then clicking the Change Settings option. Should you want to install updates manually, remember to do so about once a week. Microsoft tends to release most updates on “Patch Tuesdays”, but if a severe vulnerability is found and fixed quickly, MS may release a patch at any time.

It is also important to keep your antivirus and antimalware utilities patched and updated. Nefarious malware programmers tend to be a couple of steps ahead of the good guys, so it’s important to keep your digital defenses as current as possible. Antivirus and antimalware apps should update themselves daily (or even hourly), but if a problem has occurred (or your system is already infected), auto-updates may have been disabled. Check the status of your antivirus and antimalware apps often to ensure they’re updated and enabled.

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