With Spring fast approaching, what better than to give your personal computer a complete safety overhaul.
It's a little time consuming, but if you can set aside a day, we would recommend backing up your hard drive (first and foremost) and then completely re-format the drive and start with a fresh clean install of your OS of choice.
If by chance you've picked up some malware, or have some hidden rootkit or other hidden malware on your computer (that you would be blissfully unaware of), the safest way to ensure you have a clean system, is to wipe the disk and re-install.
That way, you will know for sure that no nasties could be present on your system.
For this reason, we would recommend that you don't import all your settings and data, in case you bring over any malware. We suggest you take the following steps in order:
- Backup your entire drive (separately from any backup procedures you currently follow)
- Verify that the backup is viable and has worked
- Check that you can import all of your emails if you want to (make sure you know the procedure to get all your emails and accounts back to how they were before you start)
- Make a note of all your program serial numbers and activation codes
- Format your hard drive
- Re-install your Operating System - do not connect to the internet yet (leave network cables unplugged and w-fi off)
- Boot into your new system and make sure it's firewall is enabled.
- Connect to the internet and run OS software updates (re-boot as required)
- Install your current anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall programs (make sure they are legitimate programs and download the latest versions direct from the manufacturers website)
- Run a scan on any other hard drives connected to your system
- Re-install only the programs you really need (it's a good chance to leave out all the stuff you have but don't use)
- Update (or upgrade if you feel the need) all of those programs, from the manufacturer, to make sure you are running the latest versions.
- Re-install all your backed up data and emails
- Run a scan on your new clean hard drive
- Keep all software up to date
Having done this, we would then recommend changing all your email passwords.
It's a time consuming exercise, but well worth the trouble, to know that you are now clean and secure, with all the latest protection in place.
You will also have the added bonus of having a more speedy responsive (as new) computer.
(This tip is for personal computers and is not intended for corporate use)