I know, the title of this blog post is a bit strange. Let me explain. A few days ago I was in BestBuy looking for a new PC for my daughter. Her current laptop (a 3-year old Asus) leaves a lot to be desired. The store did not have the specific Lenovo model I wanted. I just started browsing around and came across a laptop that I fell in love with. What caught my eye first was the gorgeous display. The display on this laptop looked better than many televisions I have seen. The laptop was very light and flexible with a display that folds back so you can use it like a tablet. It was also very fast. The speed was mainly due to the Solid State hard drive. When browsing the Internet or clicking on a local program, the laptop delivered what I asked for instantly. It was a beautiful thing.
The laptop was a platinum silver Lenovo Yoga 910. I did not buy this laptop because $1,200 was way out of my budget. As I was leaving the store I thought to myself, “It would be a shame if someone spent their hard earned money on a new computer and did absolutely nothing to protect it once they got home.” I then thought about the old saying, “People don’t know what they don’t know.” So below are some tips to help you protect your new or old laptop.
WRITE IT DOWN\TAKE A PICTURE
If you ever need tech support for your laptop, it is a good idea to already have the make, model, and serial number written down. You can also take a picture of this information and your entire laptop as well. It may be helpful if it is ever stolen and you need to identify it when trying to recover the laptop.
Why spend hundreds of dollars or more on a laptop and plug it into a $5 power strip? If you live in an area like me, you never know when you may experience a power outage, spike or surge. Depending on how bad the electrical problem is, your laptop may suffer damage. You want your computer connected to something that will allow you to gracefully shut your computer down. A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is a better choice than a basic power strip.
MALWARE IS EVERYWHERE
Probably every day there is a cyber crook somewhere in the world creating a new virus or modifying an old virus to make it harder to detect. In particular, the use of ransomware is on the rise. Ransomware encrypts all of your files and locks your computer to the point where you can’t use it. The only way to access your own files is if you pay the ransom amount the cyber crook wants. Ransomware victims are usually required to pay $350-$2,000 to regain access to their own computer. Minimize your trouble and protect yourself with good antivirus software. It is not enough to install antivirus software and forget it. Again, new viruses are created every day so you must keep your software up to date. Avast Antivirus has worked well for me over the years.
KNOW BEFORE YOU SURF
Increasingly cyber crooks are infecting websites large and small. How do you know which sites found in your Google search are infected BEFORE you click? I use Web of Trust (WOT) to alert me to which websites may have a problem. WOT uses a simple traffic light type system to rate websites. If you see a site in your web search results that has a green light out to the side of it, this site should be ok. If a site as a yellow light next to it, it MAY be ok. If a site has a red light, don’t go there.
DATA IS NUMBER 1
Over time, the actual data stored in your computer will become more important to you than the computer itself. You have to protect your data because you never know when a virus may infect your computer or when a hard drive may fail. Having a good data (files, folders, images, etc.) backup plan is the best way to protect your data. I have said for many years, if something is important to you, it should be backed up to a few different places. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The different places could be a separate place on your computer’s hard drive, flash drive, external hard drive, or online\the cloud. The backup programs I like are SyncBack and SecondCopy. I use SyncBack to backup files to my Google Drive.
If your laptop was lost or stolen, how would you find it? Be proactive and look into installing tracking\recovery software on your laptop. Prey or LoJack for laptops may be worth investigating.
Be proactive. Be safe.