Have a computer at home? How can you keep it healthy? I spoke with computer tech Casey Champie about common home-office computer problems and how to avoid them. He suggests small but important tweaks to typical computer setups that can help home users avoid computer catastrophes.
Shannon: Casey, can you tell me a little bit about your computer support company, and the services you provide?
Casey: Certainly. My company focuses on home-office computer support and repair. The goal is to go into the client’s home and help them with any and all computer-related problems. These can range from something as simple as installing a printer or second monitor, to more complex problems like spyware/malware removal and data recovery. We also offer a range of other products like Windows 7/8 tutorials, smart phone tutorials, and hard drive backups.
Shannon: What do you find to be some of the biggest computer problems in home offices?
Casey: The two most frequent issues I have seen so far are the severe lack of malware protection, and zero forms of backups. Malware can be tricky, so that is fairly understandable. Not having a backup can be a huge risk, so I certainly try to convince my clients to use one of the many available options to ensure they don’t lose everything.
Shannon: With all we’ve been hearing about the Target data theft, the Heartbleed hack and more, how concerned do you think individuals and small businesses should be about their data and online security?
Casey: You definitely need to be cautious these days, especially businesses. Storing financial data is so easy and convenient with a computer, but you certainly have to understand the risks involved in doing so. You can take a few simple steps to give yourself much better protection, but at the end of the day no one is 100% safe all the time.
Shannon: What backup solutions do you normally recommend for small businesses and individuals?
Casey: There are two options available when considering doing backups. You can do the in-house approach using an external hard drive to back up all your data locally. There are risks involved in taking this approach, however. Your local drive can break, be stolen, or simply malfunction and all your data is lost. I call this the “putting your eggs in one basket” approach. It is certainly doable, but not recommended. My go-to backup is definitely going online. Carbonite or Mozy offer solid back up protection for a reasonable annual cost.
Shannon: What symptoms might appear in someone’s computer if they were infected with a virus or malware?
Casey: Some viruses and malware can be pretty subtle, while others can be fairly obvious. The usual tell-tale signs are things like slow boot speeds, sluggish response in Windows, internet browser auto-loads, pop-ups or a search engine you usually do not use, or you can’t load certain programs. These are some of the usual suspects associated with malware and/or a virus, but this isn’t a 100% foolproof way of knowing for sure. Having reliable malware protection and solid anti-virus software are solid first steps to take to ensure you are better prepared for these attacks.
Shannon: If you only had a $100 budget to spend on bullet-proofing your computer, how would you spend it?
Casey: I am a huge fan of two programs, and you can have both for this kind of budget. Kaspersky Internet Security is my go-to anti-virus, and would be first on my list of must-haves. There are definitely cheaper (even free) alternatives to anti-virus, but this is an area where I definitely feel that you get what you pay for. Kaspersky is very user friendly and incredibly effective in stopping malicious attacks. For 50 to 60 dollars, depending on discounts, you simply can’t go wrong with this program.
My other must-have product is Carbonite. This is an online backup program that can copy as little or as much of your computer as you desire to their servers for immediate restore. This program gives you ultimate peace of mind in knowing that if your hard drive dies on you, all is not lost. Having a backup can save you tons of time and money, so I see this as an absolute must for the price.
Shannon: What about people who don’t see themselves as very tech-savvy? Any words of advice for them?
Casey: Technology seems like it is always moving at a thousand miles per hour. Keeping up with the constant changes and advancements can certainly be overwhelming, even to most tech-savvy people. My best advice is to stay patient and never be afraid to ask for help. In my line of work, I get calls from people saying “this is going to sound stupid, but…” and this could not be farther from the truth. The reality is, there are no dumb questions when it comes to technology, because every person has a different learning curve. So never hesitate to ask for help, no matter how big or small you might consider the problem to be.
Shannon: Thanks, Casey.
Casey Champie is the owner of BVComputerGuy.com in Buena Vista, CO.