Maintaining your computer at home or at the office is essential to keep it running smoothly and securely. But sometimes you just don't remember what tasks are necessary or how often you should do them.
Use the checklist below to help you easily maintain a safe and problem-free computer. Add the items on this checklist to your calendar or post the PDF next to your computer.
First, be sure you've installed the following tools:
- Symantec Endpoint Protection—Protects against viruses, spyware, and more, and is provided free for download to all Northwestern faculty, staff, and students for work and personal use.
- Spybot Search & Destroy—NUIT recommends this free antispyware application to detect spyware on your Windows computer. It is safe to use this tool with other antispyware or antimalware applications.
Before significantly changing your computer habits at the office, check with your local technical support contact to avoid conflicts with departmental computer maintenance or security.
- Lock your computer screen (Windows key + L) whenever you step away from your desk to keep others from accessing information on your computer
- Use a cable lock for your computer to avoid theft
- Verify that security software like antivirus and antispyware is running
- Automatically check for updates to Symantec Endpoint Protection
- Back up files to a secondary drive or online storage service
- University computers—Check with your local technical support contact for your departmental back up schedule and be sure backups include departmental network or shared drives
- Personal computers—These often come with a pre-installed backup tool to make it simple to back up data
- Power down your computer at the end of the day to keep your computer updated and to save energy
- Automatically run full scans of your computer for viruses and spyware
- Delete e-mail in Junk E-mail and Deleted Items folders
- Empty the Recycle Bin, delete unused or duplicate files, e-mail attachments, and uninstall unused applications
- Move physical backups to a secure, offsite storage location
- Run Disk Cleanup to delete unnecessary files like temporary Internet files or the contents of your Recycle Bin
- Right-click on the drive you want to clean
- Click Properties and choose the General tab
- Click Disk Cleanup and select the types of files your computer should clean
- Click OK
- Check for and install updates to software you use regularly, including:
- Operating system
- Security software
- Productivity suites (i.e. Microsoft Office)
- Internet browsers
- E-mail client
- iTunes and Quicktime
- Adobe software (i.e. Reader, Flash Player)
NOTE: If any of the above programs prompt you to update, choose "Yes".
- Create a secure NetID password by using a passphrase
- Review departmental business continuity plans for technology-dependant tasks in case of an emergency
Remember to practice general safe computing habits every day. Keep your NetID password private, be aware when surfing the Internet, and stay aware of e-mail phishing attempts.
Want to run your virus scan every day or review emergency plans monthly instead of quarterly? Feel free! Any of the tasks listed above can safely be completed on a more frequent basis.
NUIT Information and Systems Security/Compliancesecurity@northwestern.edu
Last Updated: 14 November 2011