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12 must-do PC tasks

Alex Castle | April 8, 2013
Computers may have become a lot more user-friendly over the past decade, but they're still far from perfect--PCs require a certain amount of configuration and maintenance to operate at their full potential. Unfortunately, because we humans are also far from perfect, we frequently don't put in the work we should, and we end up with a slower, sloppier, less secure machine as a result.

The program prompts you to run a full system scan after it installs. If your ma­­chine has any malware, AVG will quarantine it and offer to clear it out for you. After that, you can leave the program running in the background; by default it will automatically update its virus definitions daily, and scan your PC once per week. You can change the frequency and timing of those tasks by going to Options > Advanced Settings > Schedules.

Next page: Update your software, organize your files, toss out the chaff

Update your software

Unlike fine red wine, software does not get better with age. Rather, software is like chocolate milk: Great when you first get it, but more and more likely to make you sick the longer it sits. In other words, old software is a security risk, often containing vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to get into your system. Plus, failing to update apps means missing out on any cool new features that the programs' creators may have worked in.

You have an easy, free way to scan your PC to find software that needs updating, however. Just download and install the Secunia Personal Software Inspector. After you run the installer, Secunia PSI asks what you want it to do when it finds an out-of-date ap­­plication; you can choose to manually determine which updates to download, but I suggest selecting the automatic option. The point, after all, is to make it easier to keep everything current.

Afterward, click the giant Scan button. Once the scan completes, you'll see a list of the programs installed on your computer, along with a subset of programs that aren't up-to-date. Secunia PSI can update some of the programs for you (and if you chose the automatic option during setup, it will already be downloading the updates for those applications), while others require manual updating. Below each nonautomatic update, you'll see a Click to Update link. Click it, and Secunia will start the process.

Secunia PSI starts on boot by default and runs in the background, keeping a vigilant eye out for insecure programs. Once per week the utility prompts you to update any outdated software.

I also recommend setting Windows Update to download new patches automatically, if you haven't done so already. In Windows 8, open Settings in the charm bar on the right side, and then select Change PC Settings and click the Windows Update option. In Windows 7 and Vista, click Start > All Programs > Windows Update > Change Settings.

Organize your files

I'm not judging you for letting your data get out of hand--it happens to the best of us. Sometimes it's just too tempting to save time right now by dumping files and folders into your Documents folder, or your C: drive, or onto the desktop. You can always organize things later, right? Well, later is now.

 

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