Practicing computing checklist helps protect students college-bound laptops

With college students already jumping into the fall semester, many have packed up a laptop computer for campus.
Whether that student brings an older family laptop or debuts a shiny new machine this semester, there are several critical steps that any student, or parent, can take to protect the computer, the data and even family privacy. So if the college-bound student’s laptop has 1,000 downloaded iTunes, special family photos, tax returns or the Great American Novel or you just want to keep the new laptop safe at school, take these simple steps:

– Know the rules. Make sure you have the required software for each class and the school’s rules and requirements for using computers on campus. For example, most campuses won’t allow computers without anti-virus software and ban file sharing sites for security reasons

– Immediately update windows when a new security patch is available. Don’t ignore the pop-up in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen telling you that you need to install the latest security patch. Windows is providing you with a shield to protect you computer.

– Security. Make sure you have a physical lock that denies access to the keyboard (great deterrent for thieves).

– Back it up! Back up all important files, including work/school documents, pictures and music. External hard drives and off-site daily back-up services are the most common and solutions.

– Whats the password? Protect all of your important papers, research or projects with a password. This can be done through Windows XP or other programs. Also, password protect your computer so that a nosey roommate can’t logon and delete your term paper; make sure to NEVER use any personal identification when creating these passwords like your social security number, birth date or pet’s name.

– Stay healthy. It is vital to have the most up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computer.

Reputable software companies include MacAfee, Trend Micro. The programs they provide often have anti-spyware tools built-in. Another great anti-spyware program is Webroot’s Spysweeper.