What does keeping your computer running has to do with the real estate market? Well actually very little and quite a bit. Those of us in the profession are dependent on computers for our day to day work and many investors are also heavy users of computers. I felt it would be worthwhile to share a few tips
A computer needs to be maintained to keep it running right. You cannot just run your computer and not do simple work on it but expect it to run as good as it should. There are computer shops that can do this work for you or you can do a few simple things yourself.
If you connect to the Internet for e-mail and/or browsing the chances are good that you will pick up a Trojan, spyware. adware or virus that will affect and slow your computer down or worse. Your computer needs to be purged of un-needed files and your registry kept efficient and clean. This may not solve all your computer problems but will go a long way to help keep it running right. I will warn you that some of these utilities can effect or even harm your computer so if you are not up to it, have a professional do it for you. Always back up your data to be safe.
I wanted to share some information I have gained and tips on freeware software and those things not requiring a lot of know-how to keep you computer running better. As with everything, use this information at your own risk I only offer these suggestions to help.
Back up! It is not a question of if but of when your computer or your hard drive will fail. They will not run for ever and in many cases if your hard drive fails you will not be able to get any of the information or programs you have on it off to put onto a new hard drive or computer. At least back up your data files from ALL your software to another drive, CD or even memory stick at least once a month if not more often. Other files that you cannot re-load like your pictures should also be backed up. This doesn’t take too long and is the only way you can safeguard your files. You can get a new hard drive or computer but you cannot replace your files. The second option (and the one I recommend) is to buy a second hard drive for your computer and backup software that will back up EVERYTHING from your computer to the second hard drive. If you are connected to a network you can use one of the other computers on that network as a storage hard drive if you want. This will save you from being required to find and re-load all your software, your settings and information in case of a hard drive failure. This is one software type that you may not find as freeware and will have to purchase but it is well worth it. I use True Image and you can read more about it at: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/
What are spyware, adware, viruses and Trojans? Your computer gets these from being on the Internet. A router with a firewall will help and you can run a software firewall like Zone Alarm ( http://www.zonelabs.com/ ). You should also run some anti-virus software on your computer all the time like AVG ( http://www.avg.com/us-en/free-antivirus-download ). These will help keep the bad things out of your computer but still you should check at least once a month to find and remove anything that gets on your computer that should not be there (more on this a little later). Prevention is much better than trying to find and clean these problems from your computer. But don’t feel totally safe just because you are using a firewall and virus protection. You still need to check and clean your system often. Now let’s look at what some of the more common problems are:
Spyware is a computer program which can be installed on personal computers (usually without the permission from the owner) and has the purpose of collecting information and sending it back to another source – usually an Internet marketing or pornographic website.
Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running – this happens most often when you are using the Internet. These ads can be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a web site.
Virus is a dangerous computer program with the characteristic feature of being able to generate copies of itself, and thereby spreading. Additionally most computer viruses have a destructive payload that is activated under certain conditions.
Trojan or Trojan horse is basically a malicious program accompanied by spyware that you get through email attachment, a messenger program, or from an Internet download. Trojans sometimes masquerade as a free program you would like. Once you accept the Trojan into your computer, it will perform a basic installation of itself. A Trojan horse infection creates a backdoor to your PC allowing the attacker to do whatever they want to your computer. They can record your keystrokes, spy on you, read your emails and so on.
One other term you should know is rootkit
A rootkit is a set of software tools intended to conceal running processes, files or system data, thereby helping an intruder to maintain access to a system whilst avoiding detection.
Once a month or less you should run a check for these problems on your computer and clean them when you find them. The freeware software suggested can take care of these issues for you. Like anything read the instruction files before you use and if you don’t know something try to find out before you do it wrong. Run each of these every month or less to help keep your system running well. I also suggest you use Spybot to find and remover spyware ( http://www.safer-networking.org/en/spybotsd/index.html ). To find and remove Malware you can use a freeware like a-squared ( http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/download/ ). Always keep the definition files for all these softwares up-to-date. Check before using them each time to see if there are any updates to download.
Keep your system clean. At least every month (may be a good time when you run the check with the above software) go through your computer and delete any old files that you do not want or need. This helps keep space open and your hard drive running faster. You should also use a program like ccleaner after you have manually cleaned your hard drive of files you do not want to keep ( http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner ) to help clean your drive and it also is a privacy tool to help protect your privacy on your computer. Another utility Glary Utility, it is a Freeware ( http://www.glarysoft.com/products/utilities/glary-utilities/ ) I like is But you have to do it and do it regularly to keep your system running. Take the time as it is well worth the little effort. If any of the links are broken or not working you can do a search with Google to find these or similar freeware software utilities.