‘Help! My computer is playing up!’

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We’ve all been there – you’re working on an important document or grant application and suddenly your computer freezes, forcing you to shut down and enter a state of panic while you find out if you have lost all your hard work.

While it’s impossible for me to cover all the causes of system failures and how to prevent them in a single blog, I thought I’d share some general thoughts on how you can minimise the risk of IT outages and a few trouble-shooting tips you can apply to keep the IT support team at bay!

Restart, restart, restart.

If your computer is crashing or acting weird, sometimes restarting your computer tend to solve it.

It won’t solve every IT challenge, but the set-up process the computer goes through is sometimes all you need.

Keep your software up to date.

Having the latest IT can be a challenge for charities on a tight budget, but even if your machines are a few years old, make sure you keep your operating system and softwares up to date.  Our tt-exchange software donation program can help you get the latest Microsoft Windows click here for more details (Subject to eligibility criteria).

Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft after 8th April 2014 (link), so I would recommend nothing older than Windows 7.

Not only will the latest operating systems help keep things running smoothly, you’ll have access to essential security upgrades.

Cloud softwares as a service (SaaS) is a great way to ensure your softwares stays up to date, so if you’re not already using it, do consider it – have a read of my last blog here for more information.

Anti-virus protection.

Virus infections can take down one PC or the whole organisation or steal your data and it’s not enough to have the latest software installed on your computers.

Make sure your computers have an anti-virus software to protect your PC and ensure it is updated to keep machines clear of the newest malware and viruses. Symantec’s Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Internet Security is available through our tt-exchange software donation program click here for more details (Subject to eligibility criteria).

In addition, be diligent about keeping viruses at bay – delete SPAM emails immediately and don’t click on links from an unfamiliar source i.e. emails etc.

Always check the ‘from’ address on emails; fraudsters and hackers rely on busy people failing to check misleading phishing emails and clicking on ‘check your bank activity here’ links which can unleash malware or steal your login details.

A few words about passwords.

While passwords don’t have an immediate impact on the smooth running of your computer, having a simple password or the same one for every application leaves your systems more vulnerable.

You should change your login password every three months and use a mix of characters, numbers and capitals to make it harder to crack.

To help you remember it, you can develop a system that works for you, for example changing your password’s digit for each new iteration.

Have a separate admin login.

It’s also important to set up a separate admin account on your computer and make sure your IT person or whoever manages your IT has this detail.  This way they can make changes to your computer, update softwares or install new softwares in your absence and you won’t install unknown or rogue softwares accidently.

Encrypt your data

If your charity deals with a lot of sensitive information, it is also worth encrypting your computer or on your USB memory stick to protect your sensitive files.  If you are running Windows 7 or higher, you can do this by enabling Microsoft’s Bit locker software Simply go to Control Panel > System and Security > BitLocker Drive Encryption and click Turn on BitLocker next to the drive(s) you wish to encrypt click for guide (Ensure you remember your encryption password as it is different from your windows password).

IT problems and hiccups are a part of everyday life, but by keeping your IT systems up-to-date and secure, you can tackle a lot of issues before they become unmanageable.

By Andy Man, Office 365 Support Engineer

 

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