5 Tips to Keep Your Home Computer Safe and Secure

  1. Never write down your password

Some people are in the habit of writing down their passwords on sticky notes and putting them on their monitor, desk, drawer, etc.  This makes the security of your password effectively worthless.

  1. Create a secure password for your user account

Many people create awful passwords such as “123456”, “password”, “qwerty”, “1234”, “baseball”, “football”, “letmein”, “abc123”, etc.  Those passwords are awful and I really do not understand why people create such passwords to begin with.

A good password contains no words found in the dictionary, has a mixture of numbers (1, 2, 3), letters (a, B, c), and symbols (!, @, #, $).

This is an example of a really good password:  [RO-#K^?9}htPtx

  1. Do not install random software from the Internet

A lot of software (mainly for Windows) contains something called spyware. Simply put, spyware allows the author of the software to snoop in what you are doing on your computer. There is a greater chance that obscure software (from an obscure source) will contain spyware, but of course that is not always the case.

Please note that while Windows may have more malware available to it than other operating systems out there, that does not mean that Windows is guaranteed to get a virus, nor is Windows necessarily easier to infect than other operating systems out there.

  1. Make sure your operating system’s firewall is on

A firewall is a piece of software that help police traffic to and from your computer system. Basically a firewall is your computer’s “border patrol”.

Even if you have a dedicated hardware firewall (a firewall that is separate from your operating system’s firewall; usually found on your Internet router like I have), it is still wise to leave your operating system’s firewall enabled for extra security.

  1. Keep your anti-malware software enabled and updated

Pretty much everyone who has used a computer knows what anti-virus software is and what is does. In case you don’t know, anti-virus software basically gives you the potential to know if malware is trying, has tried, or maybe even has successfully infiltrated your computer system.

More and more people are starting to do away with anti-virus software because “they don’t need it”. Well I personally see anti-virus software as a tool…a tool that helps secure a computer system. When someone says that they “don’t need anti-virus software”, I think of the example that I gave to someone a while back on the Internet:

“Let’s say you go around telling people that you don’t need to see a doctor to test for cancer, because you do not have cancer, nor will you ever get any. How do you have the potential to know that you do not have cancer, if you are not checked by a doctor? How do you know that you will never get any cancer at all? You don’t!”

Your logic would not make sense in that situation because you are assuming something as fact, when in fact you are just guessing! The same applies to someone who says that they “don’t need anti-virus software” because they “know that they won’t get any malware” on their computer system or “I know that I am careful, hence I don’t need anti-virus software”. Sorry people but that logic just doesn’t add up!

Posted in Computers, Internet and Servers, Operating Systems, Software

5 Common Computer Mistakes to Avoid

I will give five things that I recommend for you to avoid when fixing / using your computer that may save you more time and trouble in the future.

  1. Avoid running Windows registry cleaners on your computer

Simply put, a Windows registry cleaner supposedly “cleans out” the Windows registry by removing anything that does not need to be in there.

The problem?  The registry cleaner really does not have any clue whether a registry entry is truly needed or not, so it just guesses. Instead of helping your computer, registry cleaners may end up messing up your computer even more that it already was to begin with.

In addition, there is not really a big reason to clean the registry out. I have used Windows for over 18 years and not once have I ever had the registry become corrupt without me doing something intentionally that ended up causing the registry to mess up.

Bottom Line:  Please avoid Windows registry cleaners. They really are not needed, nor are they guaranteed to fix your problems.

  1. Avoid turning off your anti-virus scanner just because something is malfunctioning on your computer

You may encounter a problem with a software program on your computer, and the support desk person asks you to try running their software with your anti-virus (anti-malware) software turned off.

This is not wise, because you are assuming that their software not only has no malware in it, but you are also technically exposing your computer to other potential threats with it being disabled.

Only in very certain and specific circumstances do I ever recommend someone to (for a very short time) turn off their anti-malware protection software.

This “please try our software with the anti-malware turned off” business is really a generic response from a support person. They have no idea why their software is not working properly on your computer to begin with.

Please note that you can run a computer without any anti-malware software and be just fine (Windows, MacOS X, Linux, UNIX, etc. — they all are capable of being infested with malware), but you will not have any potential to know if you do in fact have malware on your system, without an anti-malware scanning software running in the background.

Bottom Line:  It is unwise to disable your anti-malware software to get a problem working, unless it is a last (and I mean last) resort.

  1. “Rebooting fixes everything”

People get this idea that if they reboot their system “all of their problems they had will go away”. This is not necessarily true. Sometimes rebooting does fix a problem, but other times rebooting is just putting a “Band-Aid” on the problem, and the problem will eventually resurface again.

With problems that resurface after a reboot, you will need you use trial-and-error (with Internet research) to figure out what is possibly wrong with your computer.

Yes, this part of the computer problem solving business is not fun, but it is necessary if you want to fix your computer without having to hire someone else to fix it.

Bottom Line:  Rebooting does not always fix your computer problems, nor should you assume that your computer problems have been fixed just by rebooting.

  1. Buying an SSD will always make my computer run faster

While it is true now days that someone can go down to the computer store and pick up an SSD (Solid State Drive) for a good price, SSDs are not guaranteed to always speed up a computer.

Why? There is more to the performance of a computer than just the hard drive. Anyone using a computer with 512 MB of RAM, an old 1 GHz CPU, running Windows 7 is going to have a miserable time, even if they are using an SSD with fast random-seek data access.

A computer without a lot of RAM and an old, slow CPU will cause the computer to crawl on a modern desktop OS, regardless if the computer is using an SSD or not.

Bottom Line:  SSDs (Solid State Drives) are a great way of drastically improving the data access (read and write) performance of a computer system, but they are not the only deciding factor for a computer’s performance.

  1. Avoid turning off your operating system’s automatic updates

I suspect many people run their operating systems without having the latest updates installed. This is bad for stability, performance, and security (that goes for any OS not just Windows). Updates are there for a reason. Ignoring them is not wise, unless you have a real good reason to ignore them.

Bottom Line:  Leave your operating system’s automatic updates on, unless you have a real good reason not to.

Posted in Computers, Internet and Servers, Operating Systems, Software

Do You Accept Android App Permissions Without Reading Them?

This is just a quick blog post reminding Android smart phone users to be watchful of what permissions Android apps claim they require, before installing them from the Google Play store.

For example, if you are going to download a flashlight app, and it wants access to your Wi-Fi, location, and phone identity, I would be suspicious of that app and find another one that requires less permissions.

Of course, the flashlight app will require camera permissions, since it will be turning off and on the camera’s light, but it should not require access to your Wi-Fi (unless it has ads, which can potentially be a privacy issue in itself) or location.

Sometimes apps do require strange permissions because of some unique situation, but in my opinion most of the time these extra “needed” permissions are nothing more than the app’s author spying on you.

Just something to remember the next time you decide to download another app.

Posted in Android, Operating Systems

Response to “Why Should I Use Linux?”

While I was browsing the Internet, I ran across a website that gives an introduction to the basics of Linux to computer users who do not know what Linux is all about.

One of the web pages of the presentation gives typical misinformation about Windows that you normally would probably read elsewhere.

Link to webpage:  http://www.lugod.org/presentations/intro2linux/page10.html

Please note that I mean no disrespect to the author of the presentation in anything that I say.

The author’s text (direct quotes) are in red and my responses are in black.  Please note that I am only responding to the areas that are in fact misinformation. Everything else, I am not responding to.

Especially when it is compared to Microsoft Windows, Linux has many advantages:

  • Crashes (breaks) less often 

How do you know that Linux breaks “less often” than Windows?  I have administered both Windows and Linux computers, and have found neither to be unstable when properly setup with good hardware and drivers. No technical arguments to explain how you know that Windows is not as stable as Linux.

  •  More customizable

I agree that the “sky is the limit” when it comes to modifying Linux. However you must understand that a lot of Linux users are not programmers, and hence they will not know how to modify Linux if needed. Hence they really cannot “customize” Linux the way they want to anyway (not at least, without hiring a programmer)!

Also, Microsoft has allowed Windows users to modify a lot of settings (mainly in the registry) to make changes in the Windows operating system.

Basically without the user being a programmer, Linux (for the non-programmer) is not “more customizable” than Windows would be.  It is all in the way you look at it! 🙂

  •  Faster

How is Linux “faster” than Windows?  If I dual-booted both Windows and Linux, how would one be “faster” than the other?  It is the same hardware being used for both operating systems!  No technical arguments to explain how you know that Linux is faster than Windows.

  •  Access to many useful, and free, applications

Windows has “access to many useful, and free, applications” too!

Just Google several open source software programs such as:

  • VLC Player
  • Gimp (a Photoshop-like image editor)
  • Blender (a 3D modeling and animation software)
  • Open Office
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Inkscape
  • MPlayer
  • LibreOffice
  • Audacity (a free audio editor)
  • GnuCash (financial-accounting software)
  • Notepad++ (a very powerful text editor)
  • 7-Zip (a very good file compressor)
  • VirtualBox (a virtual machine hypervisor)


I hope these blog posts help people understand that not everything they hear about Windows is necessarily true. Over the past three years, I have spent literally hours reading misinformation about Windows from person after person on the Internet. It seems like there is no end to the misinformation problem!

Please remember to always check the “facts” you receive from someone online, before blindly believing what they say! Otherwise, you may end up believing something that is in fact not true, and you may even accidentally lead other people astray!

Posted in Computers, Operating Systems