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Three steps to a happier computer

Many people have difficulty keeping their computers running. They complain of very slow response, the inability to connect (and stay connected) to the Internet and so many popup advertisement windows they can’t get anything done.The reason computers get this way can almost always be traced back to an infiltration of spyware and viruses. The way to keep computers happy and running well is to follow the three steps to a happier computer. The three steps: 1) own and operate a firewall; 2) run antivirus software that works and is up to date; and 3) continuously remove adware / spyware programs from the computer.The first step, own and operate a firewall, can be solved in many ways. The best firewall option depends on your network and how you use it. In business networks, where many machines share a single Internet connection, machines dedicated to just firewall duties are common. But, if you have just a single computer connected to the Internet then the best firewall may be a software program running on that computer. If you have Microsoft Windows XP then the simplest solution is to activate the built in Windows Firewall. Other software firewalls can be used free of charge (for personal use). For instance, I personally like the Sygate personal firewall found at (click on download). It will work with any version of Windows, and is fairly easy to install and operate.Antivirus programs on the other hand are rarely free and can be difficult to install and maintain, but it is imperative that a working and up-to-date antivirus program is running on your computer at all times. Even one day without antivirus can leave your computer locking up, spreading viruses to your family and friends and even losing information. The leading vendors all make good antivirus products that work well (including McAfee, Symantec, and Kaspersky). These programs can be purchased at a local computer store or online directly from their Web sites. Once installed, follow the programs’ directions to ensure the product is set to automatically update its virus definition files. An old virus definition file is almost as bad as not running antivirus software at all. As new viruses are found on the Internet, the definition files are updated and must be installed into your antivirus software so your computer remains protected.The final step to a happier computer is the removal of spyware and adware programs. As I have discussed many times before, spyware and adware programs are a plight that serve no purpose but to gather information about your surfing habits for selling to marketing companies. Once two or three of these programs get installed, computer performance can be reduced to a crawl. Detecting and cleaning these pests from your computer takes a special kind of software called antispyware or adware removal tools. Microsoft has decided that spy/adware is causing so many performance problems with Windows that they are developing a new antispyware program to help. In fact, this program will be available free to Windows 2000 and XP users when it becomes available next year.Until then, Microsoft is offering the program, Microsoft AntiSpyWare, in beta (testable software) until the final release of the software. I have installed it on dozens of machines and have found it effective in killing most spy/adware software. To get a copy go to What I like most about this software, besides the price (free), is the fact that it runs like antivirus software – it updates itself daily with new abilities to kill new adware programs and it scans your machine every day automatically.Protecting your computer requires diligence on all three of these fronts – firewall, antivirus software and an automated antispyware program. Installing and configuring these three things on your computer today will breathe new life into it and protect it from future attacks.Aura Information System Technologies, LLC719-440-1790www.auraistech.comVisit for more information. Send your comments or topic requests to

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