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A lot of times I get bombarded by friends and relatives about pc-related problems such as restarts, virus attacks, unstable systems and other similar problems that could have been prevented if proper steps have been followed. Windows XP bears the brunt of the problem due to the fact that piracy is rampant and many hackers like to target this platform due to it’s popularity. This is reason alone to upgrade your system to Windows 7 as soon as you can afford it.

Anyway with New Year going by, those who have done a reformat of their computer (and even those who haven’t) will benefit from these 3 points to keep your system stable.

1)Keep your Computer Updated

This is paramount. Frequently, Microsoft releases patches to help protect your computer against malicious content out there on the Internet. The more updated you are, the better you stand a chance against fighting off an unwanted piece of malware or virus from infecting your system and using up valuable system resources slowing down your computer. Windows makes this a simple and automated process with their Windows Update feature, but did you know that your programs should be kept updated as well?

My favourite software to automate this task is Update Notifier. It scans through my system building up a list of installed programs then checks the Internet to see if it’s the latest version. If not, it offers a simple way to get the latest version of the file to install. Developers are realizing that keeping their applications updated is a very important necessity in today’s computing environment and most browsers like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and even Google Chrome makes the whole process invisible to the user. And rightly so because your browser is the single most popular entry point for malicious content.

2) Perform Regular System Maintenence

CCleaner is a wonderful tool to get rid of unnecessary files on your computer, while Tuneup Utilities handles the rest. The auto-optimize feature of Tuneup is especially useful and coupled with the scheduler ability, makes optimizing your system periodically a painless process. This will help keep your computer from being bogged down with too much files.

3) Install a proper antivirus and keep it updated!

This is a necessary step. Free antivirus solutions like Avira and Avast are pretty good, but research shows that Microsoft’s own Security Essentials, which is also free, does very well compared to commercial alternatives. If you have the cash, Kaspersky and ESET are pretty good choices, with ESET being better for the less technical users because its less ‘naggy’ and protects your system with minimum fuss. After getting the antivirus tool, make sure to keep it updated and scan through your system periodically to ensure it doesn’t turn into a virus nesting ground.