Part 1 - Laptops and Computers
One of the most critical pieces in maintaining an effective and secure home setup is to ensure your devices are up to date. This includes laptops/computers, mobile devices and network hardware.
The principles for this are the same regardless of whether it’s windows or iOS so I won’t differentiate between them here. Keeping your machines up to date with operating system updates and updates for critical applications including anti-virus is critical. Keeping up to date ensures you will always be running the current version which means if you have support you are more likely to get assistance.
The most current versions are generally more secure and have had previous exploits closed. As they’re new they are less likely to have exploits created for them as they’ve been available for less time. This is one reason old versions and systems are exploited – people have had the time to go through them from top to bottom, understand how they work and find ways to hack into them.
Running one version behind the most recent one available is a strategy some people use to ensure they’re running a current, supported and (most importantly) stable version of the operating system. This is a good strategy and minimises the chances of your device becoming unstable and crashing frequently due to a new update with issues. This can be difficult to implement so most people just run the latest updates when they’re available and if the occasional one causes an issue you can generally uninstall it or roll back to the previous versions.
The aim of this is to ensure the core applications – operating system, anti-virus, password safe, malware protection – are all kept up to date. Double-check that the anti-virus is continually updating and running the current definitions. If your AV software isn’t up to date it can’t protect you from the latest threats being released which means you’re more vulnerable to attack.
Running through the maintenance processes from time to time is a good process as well. This helps ensure your systems is optimised and cleaned up. General tasks include cleaning up memory and storage. Going through add/remove programs to remove anything you haven’t used in a while is also a good thing to do. This frees up space on the hard drive and will improve performance if there are applications not being used that run in the background. People are often surprised when they see how many applications run in the background and use memory and CPU.
Making sure you have a backup of critical files is also good practice. If you keep things on your hard drive make a backup to a cloud storage repository (Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. There are plenty to choose from). This will protect you in the instance where you have a hard drive failure and cannot recover the data. Deleting old files is also a good idea. This will reduce the amount of cloud storage you need for backups and free up space on your hard drive.
Clear your browser cookies and cache. It’s surprising how many cookies you will download just through regular browsing so periodically removing them and cleaning this up will help with your browser performance and your security.
Decluttering and cleaning up your desktop will help you stay organised. Many people have a habit of saving to their desktop when they’re doing something quickly and then leaving it there for ages. This will help reduce the clutter on your desktop and maintain only what you need, which in turn helps with performance and efficiency.
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