In addition to vacuuming your keyboard and fans for dust, don’t forget to physically clean your screen and fan for Passover.
Never use Windex on a LCD screen; the streaks will last forever. Here is a life hack: Use a dryer sheet and Q-Tip to clean your screen and keyboard.
I wasn’t a “fan” of cleaning fans a while back before I had taken a PC apart and put it back together. Realizing Dell motherboards are glued to the housing, when I put everything back together it worked better. Dust in fans can cause PCs to run slower and can cause long-term harm.
On to the internal cleaning of a PC. I recommend that users change their password when the clock changes. You can add a # or $ to make it easier to remember. Do not get complacent. Hackers can get one password and start accessing all your accounts. When you go to a website with Chrome and the site is auto-filled in or your password is filled in, this is called caching. This does not mean your PC is saving this info. In fact, it can be a hacker’s dream to grab these passwords. The best way to protect your passwords is to use LastPass, which properly holds and prompts for saving passwords. Make sure to log in to Chrome to save your bookmarks.
I bring this up because good techs use a program called CCleaner, which is free for the basic features. CCleaner will clear the cache, temporary files and passwords that should be cleared. CCleaner will clear all the browsers and Windows programs. Techs run this daily on PCs, especially public PCs that are used by many users.
Another great program is called Defraggler. Defraggler will move files around your hard drive to make it run faster. Though with solid state drive there isn’t much to gain from Defraggler except to optimize your files.
If you have been reading my columns but still haven’t backed up your data, now is a good time to purchase an external hard drive. Most external hard drives come with good applications that back up your files. At my company, we offer a 24/7 monitored backup, which is a bit expensive for the average home user.
I am no different and have files that should be moved over to external as well. I have used every copy program that exists; all of them have drawbacks. Windows’ built-in copy/paste program has flaws. You can be copying 1,000 files, and on the 999th file it says ignore or cancel. You can’t merge or even compare files.
The best copy program by far is called Beyond Compare. Beyond Compare will allow you to copy, merge and compare folders. One can even run two such copies at the same time. I found this one easy to use. There was one feature I really liked: One can compare pictures based on size and other variables. There is a charge for this program but it is well worth it.
A free copy program with fewer features is Teracopy.
Truth be told, most engineers are on the fence about anti-virus technology being effective. This is all since the recent waves of ransomware and malvertising, which I have written about extensively over the last few months. These are not viruses. This is malware in a class by itself. Usually the payload is administered via unprotected email like free or cheaply hosted email: AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo. A provider’s email like Verizon and Optonline is worse. Really we should all be with Gmail. One can import up to seven email addresses to Gmail, and you can reply from those emails but have the Gmail protection.
I describe anti-virus protection like car alarms. No one truly expects a car alarm to deter a thief, but we are not going to leave the key in the ignition with a sign saying “steal me.” Anti-virus has become the same. We engineers install them but we are more concerned with having firewalls on site and education on what to do and not to do on a computer.
Since we are in the cleaning season, download Malwarebytes and run a full scan. The basic version is free. This might be the only company that is trying to address ransomware/malvertising.
Here are some other vacation tips:
If you are going to travel with your family, a great idea is to start a Whatsapp group. Ours is called “Garb Passover vacation.” Gone are the days where your kids had to meet at the fountain. Now send a What’s App text, saying “time to go!”
Purchase a AA or AAA powered battery charger that can be found on Amazon or even at 7-11 for less than $10. It’s important to have your phone charged on long vacation days.
As we are before a holiday, remember to unplug! This is special time to spend with family and friends, with days during the holiday to vacation or see the sites. No one believes in plugging in more than I, but there is no worse scene than to see mom, dad, son and daughter all sitting on a couch in the hotel lobby, all tapping away at a keyboard.
Get out a little and see how long you can last without reading an email or sending a text. Don’t let your children’s memory of a vacation be of dad walking away to take an emergency call.
This year I am to be returning to my position running I.T. workshops at the Gross Schechter Pesach program in Edison, New Jersey. I will be doing a virtual reality lab and more 3D printing. It is wonderful when guests can sit together and laugh, play games and hear classes on the holiday. I am very blessed to be part of this program.
The programs above can be found below:
Defraggler and CCleaner http://www.piriform.com/download
Beyond Compare http://www.scootersoftware.com/download.php
By Shneur Garb
Shneur Garb is the CEO of The Garb I.T. Consulting Group. Shneur also runs seminars and workshops on internet security and 3d Printing.