I spend my days helping residential and business clients use and understand technology, and it amazes me how often I encounter computers that are in need of work, even when clients seem content with the system's performance.
People simply want their computers to work, and to avoid having to deal with problems on a regular basis. We all put up with little issues, as long as computers do what we want them to. Many people perform regular maintenance and scans, but may not use the most effective programs, or do as thorough of a job that is needed.
They believe their computer is working "fine", and that may be true, but things like performance and day-to-day use of the computer can be improved, possibly significantly, which can result in increased productivity, less stress, and more time for other things.
Most people are aware that it's important to have anti-virus software, but with the plethora of options, it's difficult to know what to use. Some are more effective than others, and easier to use, and personal preference is a factor, as well as what you use your computer for, and user behavior is very important as well.
That's why it's important to have a trusted source to discuss these things with you, and help you choose the anti-virus and anti-spyware software that fits your needs.
If all you do is check your email, use Facebook, and other common minimal risk tasks, there is no reason to have a full security software suite running on your computer, especially when regular maintenance is being done. In fact, a free product like Microsoft Security Essentials may be all you need. If it is business computer, NOD32 is an excellent option (www.eset.com).
Having a proper System Cleanup done every 6-12 months is recommended, depending on how the computer is used - if it's just you, or your kids as well. This requires using multiple programs and tools to do a thorough, top to bottom cleanup, including checking for viruses and spyware, installed programs, and optimizing the system for performance.
If you are encounter pop-ups, error messages, and you are unsure of what to do, please take a moment and ask a trusted computer expert, or Google the message or error and see what people are saying is the best way to deal with it. Never blindly click anything without knowing what the result will be.
Although you may think your home or business computer is running fine, having a trusted source perform regular maintenance is essential, much like you get your vehicle serviced regularly. If it's running well - fantastic - if not, it's important to take steps to fix minor problems before they become major issues.
I want your feedback! If you have comments or questions about this column, or suggestions for future columns, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're on Twitter, send a tweet to @kevinthenerd.