With the new year almost here, let's look at some critical steps to get your computer ready for 2024.
Change Your Passwords
Changing your passwords is one of the most important things you can do to get your computer ready for 2024.
Hackers are counting on passwords to stay the same. You should update the password of your most frequently visited sites.
Avoid adjacent keyboard combinations or repetitive characters – passwords like “qwerty”, “123456”, or “AAAA”.
When hackers use brute force or dictionary attacks, this makes things much easier to crack.
And if you can add multi-factor authentication to your accounts, that's even better.
Make sure you do some spring cleaning on your computer. Delete any files you don't need or store them someplace else.
The downloads folder is a great place to start. There are a lot of files that can linger there over time.
Sometimes computers come pre-loaded with software you don't need, or developers try to add apps as a package.
You might even have some apps installed that you haven't used in ages. It's best to delete them.
Upgrade the Hardware
You can get more life out of a computer than companies want you to believe. Minor hardware upgrades can go a long way.
Start with upgrading the RAM. 8GB and up is pretty much the benchmark for most machines, anything less than that and processes get slow.
Next up is storage. With everything in the cloud now, you may not need more space, but accessing files should be faster.
If you have an older machine, consider a solid-state drive. These drives are much faster because they have no spinning discs. M.2 and SATA SSD drives are the most common.
Updates, updates, updates!
Hackers attack computers that aren't protected by the latest vulnerabilities.
Make sure your machine is patched with the latest updates. Windows, macOS, or Linux updates contain patches that fix bugs and security flaws.
Major OS updates do not need to be installed right away, but if there is a recent patch for the current one you are on, you should install it ASAP.
If you're worried about software not working right after an update, check with the software manufacturer. Their patch notes will tell you if the newest update is safe.
Run an Anti-Virus Scan
You've probably browsed dozens of websites with ads or trackers. You more than likely have downloaded videos, documents, and more.
With all that activity on your storage drive, it's not a bad idea to run an anti-virus scan on it.
It's important to make sure no corrupted files are hanging around.
"Quick" scans are faster, but they don't scan deep enough. Set aside some time and run a full anti-virus scan.
A good anti-virus program can run while you work without slowing things down.
Update your passwords for any critical accounts. Especially if there has been a breach of any kind for an account or subscription service you use.
Delete any unnecessary files or apps. Upgrades to RAM and drive space can add some extra life to your computer.
Check for any critical OS updates. If you don't want to go from Windows 10 to 11 for example, there are still crucial security patches available. Update those first.
And run a full anti-virus scan on your computer. A file may be corrupted on your system after a year of installs and downloads. It's best to clear those out ASAP.