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Operational Guidlines

Best Practices


The following are some basic guidelines to having a satisfactory computer environment…
- Always back up your data – it is not “If” your system will crash, it is “when”…; for backup options, see the back up tips.
- NEVER click on links in emails that you do not know are safe - this includes stuff from friends and relatives. Your chance of getting a virus is minimal if you are cautious...
- Consider installing "Sandboxie" or similar browser isolation application - this prevents infected web sites from being to infect your computer.
- If you are connected to the internet, always your Anti-virus software (AVG is free and works well) – always turn on all scanning including email.
- Periodically (once a month) run an Ad removal tool; Ad-Aware is free and works great. See the Links page for download information.
- Be very cautious about storing your personally identifying information (PII) on your computer. If your computer gets lost of stolen, your identity is available to others - use strong passwords for drive locking and windows logon and, if possible, enable Bitlocker or similar encryption on your hard drive so that your data is protected.
- If you are operating a wireless network and live in an urban area (neighbors within 1000 feet), always use encryption.
- If you are connected to the internet (or have your wireless connected to the Internet via a DSL or Broadband Router / Modem), always enable security on your PC and use the Windows NTFS file system (allows for file level security).
- Never load software which you do not own; software license compliance is required by law and failure to comply is theft.

Backup Tips


If you have a computer, you should always back up your data…
- Backing up your data consists of making a second copy of the data
- The second copy is NOT a back up if it exists on the same physical hard disk of the computer (multiple disks can be used as backup, however having a C:\ and D:\ drive in your computer does not mean you have 2 disks – it may represent 2 partitions on the same disk susceptible to the same disk failure)
- Scheduled and automated backups are best; this means that backups do not require user intervention but are set up to automatically occur on a defined schedule
- Expensive backup software and equipment is an accessory; even without specialized backup hardware and software, you can back up your data and prevent data loss
- Typically, a backup routine consists of full backups and either incremental or differential backups; full backups are done on a systematic schedule (usually weekly), while incremental or differential backups are done on a daily basis to ensure minimal data loss in the event of a failure
- Cloud backup solutions that encrypt data at rest are a great option today - make sure you use strong passwords (16 characters, lower/upper case, numbers & special characters) and choose a solution that encrypts your data and has a good reputation. A quick review of http://pcsupport.about.com/od/maintenance/tp/online_backup_services.htm can provide you with lots of options.

Networking Basics


If you want to share files between computers, a few tips make it easier…
- Networking allows you to connect to files and printers on other computers besides the one you are working on
- A network consists of either “peers” or a “server and clients” model; a mix is also possible but discouraged
- A peer network consists of computer workstations that share local drives – no hierarchy exists, as all are equal peers and choose to share their files at will. This is an inexpensive and easy to implement scheme but provides little data protection and integrity
- A server and client network consists of a central server (computer dedicated to file storage) and computer workstations that access files from the server. The benefits are centralized file storage, single copy of files and the ability for a more regimented backup strategy.
- If you are using your network for a business, your revenue is likely dependent on your data; use a server client model and enforce systematic and schedule backups.