If you’re working from home, you may be leaving your PC vulnerable to security and productivity issues without even realizing it. Most offices have IT departments that maintain machines, install security software, and check for updates, but you’re the one in charge of your PC’s health at home.
So ask yourself: Are you doing everything you could be to ensure your computer is secure, up to date, and running at its optimum speed? Well, if you’re leaving old downloads in your download folder or saving passwords in your browser, we can guarantee you aren’t. Tap or click here to fix the online mistake everyone makes.
It’s important to keep your PC in good health and ensure that your private information and files are secure, but it can take some work to do this. If you need a place to start, you’ll find 14 tips for keeping your PC in tip-top shape below to help out, brought to you by our sponsor, Dell. Need advice on choosing tech for your small business? Call a Dell Technologies Advisor to help you find the right tech for your business needs at 877-ASK-DELL or Dell.com.
1. Update your passwords
Keeping your passwords fresh and unique is incredibly important to the health and security of your PC. You need to make sure to update passwords regularly — every 30 to 90 days or so — and you should never use the same password for more than one account.
You should also avoid writing down your passwords to ensure that they don’t get in the wrong hands. It can be tough to remember them if you’re following the five rules to creating a strong password — which you can learn by tapping or clicking here — so you may want to opt for a password manager, which will keep track of your secure passwords for you.
2. Keep your operating system and software up to date
If you want to keep your PC secure and in tip-top shape, you need to make sure that your operating system (OS) and software are up to date. That means checking for updates regularly and taking the time to download them — even if you’re concerned that the updates will cause issues with your system.
We all know that Windows can be buggy, but buggy is better than exposed — you don’t want to leave yourself open to security issues simply because you don’t want to deal with a bug or two from updating. And, if you are still using Windows 7, you’re putting yourself at risk — you need to update your Windows system now before it’s too late.
3. Be careful what you click
If you get a malware warning, you need to take heed of it. While there may be nothing wrong with what you’re clicking on, you don’t want to risk infecting your computer with something you can’t easily get rid of.
You also need to be careful about the sites you visit. If a link is taking you to a page that isn’t familiar, take a few seconds to do your homework. It could mean the difference between an infected computer and a computer that works quickly and seamlessly. Tap or click here for help in spotting spoofed sites.
4. Use an email client instead of just your browser
If you want to take complete control of your PC, you need to stop using your browser to check email and use an email client instead. Doing so will provide an extra layer of security between you and your email provider, which is crucial to maintain the privacy and security of the information landing in your inbox.
One of the main reasons to use an email client is that it only receives the email content — either through POP3 or IMAP — so you won’t be left to deal with targeted ads from your provider scanning your email data. It can also save you time, as you can aggregate all of the emails from multiple addresses to see them in one place.
If you need suggestions on the right email client to use, Thunderbird is a great option, but there are plenty of others out there that will work well for your needs.
5. Check your firewall
You may not think that firewalls need to be checked regularly, but they do. It’s important to scan your firewall to make sure your ports are not exposed and vulnerable to port scanners, which can allow hackers to access your system and network.
There are simple ways to check your firewall and make sure that your system is protected from hackers. Tap or click here to find out how to test your firewall and make sure it’s working.
6. Use a VPN for truly private browsing
If you aren’t using a virtual private network, or VPN, to secure your internet connection and ensure your browsing is private and secure, you’re making yourself vulnerable to hackers. Using a VPN ensures that hackers can’t access your banking information or other important logins. It also stops your internet provider from tracking you and lets you unblock websites or step around filters.
Using a VPN is especially important when using public Wi-Fi, but you should really be using one any time you’re browsing, whether at home, at work, or on a friend’s Wi-Fi. If you’re looking for a solid VPN option, we recommend ExpressVPN.
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7. Don’t use your browser to save your passwords
This should be a no-brainer, but we all do it at some point or another. Still, it’s important to reiterate that you should not use your browser to save passwords if you want to keep your information secure. When you save passwords in your browser, you’re putting network security at risk.
Several browsers will allow users to view saved logins in some capacity, so if a hacker gains access to your computer, your saved passwords could be easily viewed and used to log in to your accounts. So, don’t save your passwords; it puts your information at serious risk if you’re compromised.
8. Don’t download anything unless you’re sure of its source
This should also go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Do not download anything without knowing its source. This goes for all types of downloads: PDFs from a coworker, third-party apps you found on the internet, or a host of other downloadable content.
Downloading things without knowing the source can put you at risk of malware, computer viruses, and spyware, or even open a “back door” to give hackers access to your computer without your knowledge. You need to know the exact source of the download before you click “download.” If you can’t identify it, don’t download it.
9. Check your router settings
Have you checked your router settings recently? If not, you need to do so, stat. An open network can make it easy for someone to steal your Wi-Fi, and an older WEP security is easily hacked. If you check your router to find your network is open or your encryption options are WEP or WPA, you need to immediately check for a firmware update.
A firmware update will help secure your network and deter any would-be hackers. Securing your Wi-Fi will deter people from using your network for illegal or nefarious reasons. Tap or click here for essential router security settings to check now.
10. Add a second monitor
If you want to maximize your time while working, you need to add a second monitor to the mix. Doing so will help you use your time on your computer wisely because it will increase the computer real estate you own.
Want to drag a document onto one screen and input the information from it into a spreadsheet on another screen? Go for it. Want to use a browser in one window and type in the other? You can if you add a second monitor! Tap or click here to find out how to give your home office a high-tech makeover.
11. Clear your cache regularly
Your cache is responsible for housing a ton of information that your computer picks up as you browse the internet, and you need to clear it out regularly to keep your machine in working order. Letting information sit in your cache can expose you to security issues and slow your computer down, so make sure you’re clearing out your cache regularly. Otherwise, you may see slow load times and issues with web pages loading, among a host of other issues.
12. Remove software you don’t use or want
If you’re keeping old software on your PC that you don’t use, you’re taking up precious space that could be used for other things. It can slow your computer down, expose you to security issues, and even allow you to find the programs you do regularly use quickly.
Removing old software you aren’t using will free the amount of space you have for future folders, software, and files, and may even speed up your computer, so make sure you’re doing so regularly.
13. Regularly clear out your downloads folder to free up space
When is the last time you cleared out your downloads folder? If the answer is something other than “this week,” it’s been too long. Old downloads will sit in your download folder for as long as you let them, and they can slow down your computer or cause other productivity or security issues. You need to clear out your downloads folder regularly or risk having some serious issues arise over time.
14. Lock your computer!
You need to set a strong password on your machine itself, not just your accounts. If you’re leaving your computer unlocked, you’re setting yourself up for people to access your private information when and if they want to.
You should be using a strong password to lock your computer and keep people out of your PC. It will eliminate a lot of hassle and headaches should someone with ill intentions try to log into your computer.
Incorporate these simple security tips, and your system should run smoothly for years to come. It’s the least you can do to protect such a valuable piece of machinery, not to mention your sensitive files.
Run a small business? Dell is here to help
When you run a business, finding the right tech is key. You don’t want to waste money on tools that won’t get the job done. This PC works great for what we do, but your business is different. What you need might be different, too.
Don’t just guess and hope it all works out. The pros at Dell Small Business can help. Chat, call or email an advisor and get free, helpful advice to help you find the right solutions. That’s right. It really is free. You don’t have to buy a thing. You can get smart, reliable help to choose the right tools for your company.