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Kim Komando Computer Tips

     The following tips for smoother and safer computing are from a recent Kim Komando newsletter:
  1. Back up your data. This is No. 1 for a reason. If your hard drive crashes and you lose your stuff, you'll be pulling your hair. Hard drives are much more reliable than in the old days. But bad things still happen.

    Windows includes backup software. Or you can just copy your My Documents folder. You really only need to back up your personal data.

    There isn't much point in backing up to your main hard drive. If it fails, it will take the backup with it. The safest medium is something you can remove, like a disk from a Zip Drive. You also can use a CD or DVD burner. Put the disc in a safe place. If you don't want to go to that trouble, use a second hard drive, either internal or external.

  2. Install anti-virus software. You can get a free personal copy at AVG ( Programs are also sold by McAfee, Norton and Panda. All anti-virus programs need to be updated regularly.

    Install a firewall, too. If you use a broadband connection to the Internet, you're at great risk without a firewall. These programs will hide your computer from intruders. Zone Alarm has a very nice, free firewall.

  3. Never open attachments you weren't expecting. I don't care if the return address is your mother's, she may well have not sent the attachment. Quite possibly, it's a virus.

    A self-replicating virus could pick up your mother's address in someone else's address book, and use it as the return address. Or, it could infect her computer and e-mail itself to you. Either way, your anti virus software should catch the virus. But why take the chance? If you get an attachment you weren't expecting, ask the sender before opening it.

  4. Sign up for broadband, if it is offered in your area. If you're older, you remember the switch from black and white TV to color. Take it from me, broadband will give you the same feeling.

    The slowest broadband is five or six times faster than dial-up. True, it's more expensive. But sometimes you can get a deal. Besides, the cost is worth it. Once you get a taste of broadband, you'll never go back.

  5. Don't forward the lame jokes that circulate on the Internet. The same goes for virus warnings and urban legends. They're all hoaxes.

    People are busy. They don't have time to wade through this nonsense. If the joke is a real howler, fine, forward it. But first, clear out the 10,000 addresses that already received it.

    As for virus warnings and weird stories, check them if they worry you. Nearly all are hoaxes. Why look like an idiot? There are many sites on the Web that debunk hoaxes. Some are:, and

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