PC preventative care: 7 steps to a healthy computer

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in Office Technology

When a computer breaks down at a big company, employees just call IT. But that’s a luxury most small firms can’t afford.
The result: nagging downtime and outsized repair costs. It’s estimated that lost productivity costs related to computer downtime has reached $50 billion per year.
The fact is, most desktop woes are caused by a few simple things that even the most timid technophile can prevent. Here are seven steps to keeping your machines healthy, according to Chip Reaves, the national director of Computer Troubleshooters:
1. Replace old hardware. Studies show the likelihood of problems with computer equipment goes up significantly after 24 to 36 months. Consider replacing computer systems every three years. Computers have become so inexpensive, one major repair bill could easily cost more than a new system.
2. Invest in new power protection. Most people use surge protectors, but they don’t realize that surge protection wears off over time. Replace them every three years, too.
 3. Root out illegal software. You don’t “own” software, just the licenses to use it on a specific number of PCs. Some software automatically reports usage via the Internet, and breach-of-license audits from software manufacturers to businesses are on the rise.
 4. Train your employees. Spending money to train workers—even on basic programs like Word, Outlook or Excel—may sound like a waste, but most employees understand less than 20% of the software packages they use. The gain in productivity outweighs the training costs.
5. Shore up firewalls and security. The damage from hackers (either directly or with the help of exploits from malware or viruses) is potentially enormous. Make sure all PCs are updated with the latest security patches and that firewalls are maintained.
6. Back up your data. It sounds obvious but most companies fail to keep 100% of their important data backed up.
7. Build immunities to spam, viruses and spyware. Reaves says 80% of all Computer Troubleshooters’ service calls worldwide are directly linked to these issues. Good virus protection, spam filters and anti-spyware programs are mandatory if you want a trouble-free computer.

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