Information Technology Services

Cyber Security

Computer Maintenance

Slow computer performance, crashes, and other computing troubles can be mitigated and even prevented. The following are a few simple maintenance steps/tips that can fix and avoid these problems if they become part of your regular computing routine.

Keep your operating system up-to-date.
As part of your computer software health, it is important that you keep your operating system (OS) up-to-date. Microsoft and Apple release patches to their operating systems. These patches fix bugs and enhance features in your existing OS. It is important that you download and install these critical updates. Clark managed computers have the OS updates that are automatically downloaded and installed. If you are prompted to reboot your computer because of a recent update, please do so.

Keep your software up-to-date.
Your computer runs more software than just Windows or OS X; programs such as Adobe Acrobat & Flash Player, Apple’s QuickTime, and Mozilla’s Firefox are frequently updated by their manufacturers. While some of these updates are for performance and compatibility, many are important security updates. The examples listed will alert you when they have updates available, where other software requires you to take an active role checking for updates. Either way, it is important install those updates.

Properly uninstalling software.
When you have an installed program or toolbar that you no longer want, please be sure that you remove the program properly. Many times, deleting programs directly from your hard drive will lead to error messages and/or other software problems down the road. Windows based computers use a application management utility to manage the uninstallation/repair of most programs: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Uninstall-or-change-a-program. Apple computers do not come with an application management utility, so we recommend contacting the software manufacturer, of the program you wish to remove, for instructions.

Delete Temporary Internet files/cache.
What are these temporary files? These are files associated with web pages, images, audio and video files, and other content from the web sites that you are visiting. Most times these files are stored in a specific directory on your computer and are collectively referred to as your web browser’s “internet cache.” Below are instructions on how to clear this cache:

Disk Cleanup (Windows Only).
The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. The tool identifies files that you have not accessed in a long time, temporary files and those that can be safely deleted. Once you select the files to “cleanup” the program will permanently delete them, freeing up more hard drive space. For more information visit: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Delete-files-using-Disk-Cleanup.

Empty your deleted items.
When you “delete” files on your computer, they are moved from their current location to the Deleted Items folder, Recycle Bin, or Trash. Those files stay there until you “Empty” the folder or decide to restore them to their previous location. The files waiting to be permanently deleted, still occupy space on your hard drive. By reducing the amount of consumed space on your computer’s hard drive, the next tip will take less time to be performed.

Defragment your hard drive (Windows Only).
File fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work by reading data from different parts of the media inside the hard drive; that searching can slow down your computer’s performance. Disk Defragmenter tool rearranges fragmented data so your hard disk can access them more efficiently and by moving small pieces of free space into larger allocations for new files to occupy. While Disk Defragmenter can be run on a schedule as well as manually, the frequency that it needs to be run depends greatly on how much data you have on your computer’s hard drive (the more data, the greater the possibility of fragmentation). For more information visit: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Improve-performance-by-defragmenting-your-hard-disk.

Prevention

While on the Internet your computer is vulnerable to many different types of dangers in the form of computer viruses and malware. Fortunately, there are a number of different steps you can take do to avoid these dangers.

  • Never reply to SPAM messages – asking to be removed from a list you never signed up for will likely result in more spam and the potential of receiving harmful messages.
  • Make use of SPAM filters. Clark offers a spam filter for your Clark email. To enroll visit: http://spam.clarku.edu.
  • Don’t click on suspicious web links – even if the message looks like it came from someone you know. Check with your friend to verify that the link in legitimate.
  • Avoid sites offering FREE items, especially those items that would otherwise be copyrighted (e.g. music, movies, books, etc.). It is possible that content you are accessing is copy written and could be another way for your computer to get infected with viruses or malware. For information about file sharing and copyright along with a list of legitimate services offering content that is safe to access, visit: http://www.clarku.edu/offices/its/policies/filesharing.cfm.
  • Do not install any software you did not specifically intend to download – if you are uncertain, call the ITS Help Desk.
  • Never send personal information via email, instant message, or text message. This includes, but is not exclusive to, passwords, account numbers, and social security numbers.
  • Don’t “friend” everyone who makes a request on social networks. If you don’t know them, just ignore them.

Tools & tips to prevent infections and quickly recovering when they happen:

  • Keep a valid and updated antivirus program installed and running on your computer. Clark offers McAfee Virus Scan for Windows, Apple and Linux systems to the Clark community, visit: http://www.clarku.edu/av.
  • Use a malware scan/removal tool. (ex. Spybot Search & Destroy, Malwarebytes)
  • Ensure that your firewall is turned on. The firewall software is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from another computer or network resource. Microsoft and Apple both provided firewalls as part of their operating systems since Windows XP Service Pack 2 and OS X 10.4. By running your computer with an active firewall you reduce the odds of a malicious person or software from gaining access to your computer. ITS recommends that you never turn your computer’s firewall off. If you discover that your firewall is off or that you cannot turn it back on, your computer may have been successfully infected by a piece of malware or virus and you should contact the ITS Help Desk right away for assistance.
    For more information visit:

    Windows: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Understanding-Windows-Firewall-settings.

    OS X: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1810?viewlocale=en_US.
  • If you believe your Clark owned computer is infected, please contact the ITS Help Desk right away with the symptoms, screenshots, and the computers’ Property of Clark University tag #.
  • If you are a student, and believe your computer is infected, please contact the Help Desk with symptoms, screenshots and error messages.

Clark ITS is committed to helping you. If you have any questions, need help or advice, please let us know.

Clark ITS Help Desk | Clark University - Academic Commons
helpdesk@clarku.edu | P: 508-793-7745
http://www.clarku.edu/helpdesk
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Never share your Clark Account Password, ITS will never ask you for this personal information.