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4 Tips For Your New Laptop

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the do-not-use-it-to-carve-meat dept.

Security 310

Bennett Haselton writes with four big tips for anyone blessed by the holiday buying frenzy with a new laptop; in particular, these are tips to pass on to non-techie relatives and others who are unlikely to put (say) "Install a Free operating system" at the very top of the list: Here's Bennett's advice, in short: (1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one. (2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups. (3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer. (4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently." Read on for the expanded version; worth keeping in mind before your next friends-and-family tech support call.> If you or a friend -- especially a non-techie friend -- received a laptop for Christmas, these are my favorite low-cost high-benefit tips that anyone can follow. They apply to any operating system, although I'm writing from a Windows-centric point of view.

Yes, a lot of this will be obvious stuff to techies, but I've found that if a human asks a techie "I just got a new laptop, can you give me any advice?", the answer frequently will (a) not cover these crucial bases, and/or (b) include a lot of unhelpful stuff to impress the listener. The following is a baseline for what I think a useful answer should consist of. (And if you're the techie, you may want to walk the laptop owner through following these directions, since I'm not actually spelling out what icons you have to click on, etc.)

(1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one.

Your PC probably came with a trial version of an anti-virus program that will stop working after a month unless you upgrade to the paid version. Of course you can do that if you want. Especially if you ever think you might want phone tech support for your anti-virus software, I expect it's better for a product that you've paid money for.

On the other hand, I know people who thought that if they didn't want to pay for the upgrade to their PC's default anti-virus program, their only option was to let it expire and let their computer run unprotected. If you don't want to pay for a non-free program, install a free one -- Wikipedia has a list of 15 different free or freemium anti-virus products for Windows. PC Magazine gave their "Editor's Choice" award for best free Windows anti-virus to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 in 2013 and AVG Anti-Virus Free in 2012, so either of those will work.

(Yes, I know you guys know this. But pass the word on to your Mom or kid brother with the new laptop.)

(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups.

The era in which everybody talks about backing up, but nobody actually does it, should have ended completely in 2013. Old-style backups, even the incredibly easy options, still mostly required you stop what you were doing for a minute, connect to a remote server or connect a piece of hardware to your computer, and twiddle your thumbs while waiting for some copy process to execute. So nobody bothered.

With cloud-mirrored folders, there's no excuse any more. I found out about Dropbox by asking a mailing list, "I would really like it if there were an online backup service that let me open and close files from a local folder so that there was no delay, but as soon as I made any changes, would automatically be queued to be backed up over the network to a remote host," and my listmates said, "That already exists." Windows 8 comes with the similar SkyDrive service already built in.

You can read a detailed comparison of Dropbox vs. SkyDrive vs. Google Drive, but the key point is to use one of them to mirror one of your local folders to the cloud, and get into the habit of saving stuff to that folder. Obviously this may not apply to you if you have something special going on (if you're creating large multimedia files that won't fit within the several-gigabyte limit imposed by these services, or if your privacy concerns are great enough that you don't want to back up files online), but it's good enough for most people. The horror stories about people saving months or years of writing, and then losing it all in a hard drive crash, should never happen to anyone again.

(3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer.

Some of my friends and relatives have no problem telling people, "No, I don't care if you need to check the weather, you can't touch my computer!" But if you can't resist the urge to be helpful if someone needs to borrow your laptop for a few minutes, then eventually one of those people will mess it up somehow -- either by installing a game, or visiting a website that installed malware on your computer, or just changing a system setting that you can't figure out how to change back.

When the day comes when someone needs to borrow your computer, you may be too rushed or might not know how to create an unprivileged non-administrator account that they can log in under. So go ahead and do it when your computer is brand new, while the thought is still fresh in your mind. Then if people who borrow your computer sign in under that account, in almost all cases, nothing that they do while logged in should interfere with your user experience when you log them off and log back in as yourself.

That's not a completely secure solution to stop someone from accessing private files on your computer. (There are many pages describing how to boot up a Windows machine from a Linux CD, in order to access files on the computer -- they are usually described as "disaster recovery" options, but they can also be used to access files on a PC without the password.) However, it will stop most casual users from messing up your computer while they borrow it.

(4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently.

I say "be aware" because, unlike the other three tips, this may not ever be something that you have to actually do. However, intermediate-level computer users just need to understand what it means: to restore your computer's settings and installed programs to a recently saved snapshot, while leaving your saved files untouched. This means if your computer has started acting funny in the last couple of days, you may be able to fix the problem by restoring to a snapshot that was saved before the problems started.

Intermediate users sometimes confuse this with either (a) restoring files from backup, or (b) doing a system recovery (which generally refers to restoring your computer to the state in which it left the factory). So if you're the techie doing the explaining, make sure they understand the difference. (A system recovery will often fix problems, too, but then of course you'll have to re-install all your software; a system restore is more convenient since it only undoes the most recent system changes.)

So these are the first four things I would tell people who were the recipient of a new laptop. What would you tell them?

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Slashdot (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829437)

News for noobs,
Stuff that doesn't matter.

Re:Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829497)

Did you know that if you don't use a battery backup, a surge could fry your laptop?

Re:Slashdot (2)

darnkitten (1533263) | about 8 months ago | (#45829923)

Not only that, if you live in a rural area (or anywhere with poor infrastructure), surge protectors are essential. In my town, a high-rated wall-plug surge protector combined with an in-line protector, changed out annually, prevents disasters.

I learned about the relationship between surges and fried motherboards the hard way.

Re:Slashdot (2)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 8 months ago | (#45830083)

Hate to break it to you but in most rural cases a surge protector won't do much. Lightning strikes your stuff is getting fried protector or not.

Besides, wall plug versions aren't what you want - you want one before it gets into your internal wiring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34r6RGF2JLA [youtube.com]

Re:Slashdot (4, Insightful)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 8 months ago | (#45829853)

Seriously, why is this on Slashdot - it's something that belongs on cnet.

(1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one.
  - No, don't use any local anti-virus as it chews up more system resources than a lot of actual viruses do - use something like Panda Active Scan.

(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups.
  - No, never trust cloud services for backups. Never trust cloud services period the only reason to use them is convenience

(3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer.
  - No, if a friend needs to use your computer then you need to monitor their use at all times, otherwise, hand them a tablet.

(4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently."
  - "mysterious problems"... riiiiiight. Since this is referring to system restore and new laptops they likely mean Windows machines which means Windows 8 in which case you want to use System Refresh before you ever want to try System Restore.

Re:Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829941)

"Seriously, why is this on Slashdot"

Because it's from Windbag Haselton. At least Roland Piquepaille had the decency to die from his AIDS.

Re:Slashdot (2)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about 8 months ago | (#45830013)

(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups.
    - No, never trust cloud services for backups. Never trust cloud services period the only reason to use them is convenience

What would be your recommendation to a non-techie person if they want to make sure they don't lose their digital photographs in a fire?

Re:Slashdot (1)

NIK282000 (737852) | about 8 months ago | (#45830107)

Start googling, that's how the "techies" figured it out, if you don't have the motivation to figure it out for yourself then get out your wallet and pay some one who does.

Re:Slashdot (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 8 months ago | (#45830119)

(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups.

    - No, never trust cloud services for backups. Never trust cloud services period the only reason to use them is convenience

What would be your recommendation to a non-techie person if they want to make sure they don't lose their digital photographs in a fire?

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820313349 [newegg.ca]

comes with any Mac (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829445)

All four suggestions are included when you buy a Mac.

Just saying!

Re:comes with any Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829691)

Pretty sure all of them come with Windows 8 now too. IIRC, Windows Defender now has anti-virus built in (the old Security Essentials), relentlessly pushes SkyDrive on you, has a guest account by default, and has a System Restore.

Re:comes with any Mac (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#45829963)

but the UI on windows 8 completely sucks, the Mac OS X one can work for a n00b though it has become bloated over the years

Re:comes with any Mac (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 8 months ago | (#45830123)

I tried to get my mom to use a Mac several years ago, just so I wouldn't have to worry about her getting viruses ever again. Now, on every holiday I still have to hear her bitch about her *stupid son* who made her waste $1,500 on a computer that wouldn't even run her simple sewing machine software (THAT ONLY HAD A FUCKING WINDOWS VERSION). One year she even paraded the dead corpse of said laptop around for all to see, as direct evidence of my bad-soness.

Re: comes with any Mac (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829833)

In Soviet Apple, the malware is the OS.

Re:comes with any Mac (1)

Megane (129182) | about 8 months ago | (#45829851)

Also Linux, except you have to figure out how to turn them on first. Except for #1, since viruses aren't a problem.

If you're buying somebody a device... (4, Insightful)

slk (2510) | about 8 months ago | (#45829449)

and you are going to have to support it, buy them either an iPad or a Chromebook.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#45829499)

and you are going to have to support it

Best decision I ever made was to persuade my mum to get a mac laptop. That's pretty much because my brother likes macs and now whenever she has a problem I go "uh.. try asking $OTHER_BROTHER. He has a mac".

Took a while after that but now after years at the coalface, I'm 100% family tech support free. Except for my SO, but she has a linux laptop and much more interesting problems.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#45829525)

interesting problems.

And in case anyone tries to get smart, doing basic stuff is not an "interesting problem". Interesting problems arise from wanting to do unusual things which have no obvious solution on any system.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 8 months ago | (#45829697)

Oh, like my mom - who has a S4 phone and wants to install skype on it so she can call her boyfriend on his phone (on the same plan!).

I asked her - "So you have a phone, acting like a computer, that you want to install software on so it will act like a phone?"

She says "yeah, I think that will be cute"

(Feel free to start with the "your mom" jokes, but she's 77 and has been using computers since the 386 days and has proven to be fairly trainable)

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#45829955)

I asked her - "So you have a phone, acting like a computer, that you want to install software on so it will act like a phone?"

Hey, if your data plan on your phone is cheaper than your minutes on your phone, why not?

If people didn't want Skype on their phones, they wouldn't be making it.

And, really, modern day phones are every bit full fledged computers -- they just also happen to be phones. I'm betting her current S4 outperforms/outclasses the 386's she started with in pretty much every regard from CPU speed to storage.

Hell, I strongly suspect that most cell phones nowadays would have been classed as 'supercomputers' not even 25 years ago. The line between phone and computer has blurred so much, and since you can install software which pretty much does everything, I fail to see why a cell phone isn't a computer these days. It sure meets any definition I saw in school.

They're all Turing complete, and with general purpose instruction sets.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

operagost (62405) | about 8 months ago | (#45830077)

I thought the point of Skype was for video.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (4, Funny)

CreatureComfort (741652) | about 8 months ago | (#45829857)

Most of my SO's interesting problems have nothing to do with computers or even technology in general.

Sometimes I wish I'd gotten my degree in psychology, not engineering.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 8 months ago | (#45829893)

Now that's cute :)

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 8 months ago | (#45829909)

My cousin has a degree in psychology, and he's on his third marriage. So, apparently, it doesn't help.

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829803)

how fat is your SO?

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 8 months ago | (#45829521)

Not everybody is a mouth breathing moron who needs yet another portable television. Some people actually need to *do* things with their computers.

Or Windows RT (3, Insightful)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 8 months ago | (#45829531)

If they may need Office... a Windows RT machine is pretty good too and requires the same low level of support as iPad or Chromebook.

Re:Or Windows RT (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#45829797)

I don't know why this is marked as flamebait. I have a Surface 2 (they dropped RT from the official name), and I have to say that I love it. Even as a programmer. It's the only tablet that supports SD cards and dropping to a bringing up a command prompt (cmd/powershell) out of the box. The browser is capable enough that you don't need website apps that basically mirror website functionality. There is a lack of apps, but that's probably my only complaint. Also, from a development point of view, I'm working on my first app, and I have to say that I enjoy the experience much more than my experiences with Android or IOS.

Re:Or Windows RT (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 8 months ago | (#45830023)

i agree mostly, except after the firmware update any cold boot requires me to type in the 25 pin bitlocker key... not fun. MS has acknowledge the "bug" but no fixes yet...

Re:If you're buying somebody a device... (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#45829895)

Or better yet, an etch-a-sketch [dilbert.com] .

NSA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829457)

"Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups."
Was this article written by the NSA?

Re:NSA (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 8 months ago | (#45829727)

EncFS [howtogeek.com] or BoxCryptor [boxcryptor.com] are your friend.

Re:NSA (4, Informative)

CreatureComfort (741652) | about 8 months ago | (#45829885)

Or just start out with SpiderOak [spideroak.com] to start with.

Re:NSA (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 8 months ago | (#45830037)

Sure, lots of services out there but it's better to implement a tactile level of security regardless of provider.

ZOMG! Thank You! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829463)

ZOMG! Thank you so much! I had no idea how to use a Windows computer at the most basic level. Thank God I found this computer n000b beginner site called Slashdot that posts insightful stories about how to do it.

I'm going to tell everyone on AOL and MySpace about this article.

Re:ZOMG! Thank You! (1)

Nestea_Zen (1111953) | about 8 months ago | (#45829897)

I'm in the mood. What do you want to eat troll? I have leftovers too.

Interesting potential issue (3, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 months ago | (#45829465)

"(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups."

Anyone with experience in ransomware know if they encrypt the files in, say, the user folder (where all of these mirrored cloud services live by default) does that echo to the cloud host, ransoming everything there too? If thats the case then it might be a good idea to at least stay one step ahead of the bad guys and put the folder somewhere else in the system.

Re:Interesting potential issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829557)

I know Dropbox does this, but I am sure others do too. There is some versioning of files available and deleted or replaced files are recoverable for some time afterward.

Kim Kommando is that you?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829489)

Why is this garbage on Slashdot? the people who read this site don't need to be told about running AV software or the danger of running as admin or root.

Editors, please stop pandering to the lowest common denominator end user who will never read Slashdot anyhow

Cloud != Backup (4, Insightful)

Imagix (695350) | about 8 months ago | (#45829507)

Augh! A mirrored folder to the cloud is _not_ backup! If you delete a file from the folder, that gets mirrored into the cloud so it's gone there too. If you overwrite a file in the mirrored folder, that gets mirrored to the cloud and it's changed there too. This is the same story as RAID drives. That's adding redundancy/resiliency. In the event of a failure of your local drive, yes, there's a second copy elsewhere. But in the event of "oops, I accidentally deleted a file I wanted to keep" you're out of luck.

Re:Cloud != Backup (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829679)

This, a thousand times, this. Almost all non-techie users I talk to think syncing folders to Dropbox or Ubuntu One means they have a backup. They don't seem to understand that a deleted or corrupted file locally means the damage gets done remotely. Cloud storage is not a backup, it is a synchornization tool. It's convenient and, in some cases, dangerous. A sync tool should never be used in place of a backup.

Re:Cloud != Backup (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 8 months ago | (#45829933)

Because, of course, all cloud storage is non-versioned. Yeah, right.

Re: Cloud != Backup (4, Informative)

bryanp (160522) | about 8 months ago | (#45829681)

It does in the short term. Most of the cloud services let you recover/undelete a file for up to 30 days.

You're right that it's not a "real backup", but honestly you aren't going to get most people to do a real backup with any consistency. Cloud backup of a documents folder is a useful stopgap.

Re: Cloud != Backup (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 months ago | (#45829763)

It does in the short term. Most of the cloud services let you recover/undelete a file for up to 30 days.

You're right that it's not a "real backup", but honestly you aren't going to get most people to do a real backup with any consistency. Cloud backup of a documents folder is a useful stopgap.

This is exactly right. After a little checking, free accounts with Dropbox and Google drive both save old versions (plus pre-deletions) for 30 days by default (provided you have the space) so there is a pretty good hedge against accidental deletion or other corruption. The biggest risk, then, is losing access to your account, or perhaps facing someone with such extreme malice and capability that they take over and delete your account from the service (at which point i suspect it might be near impossible to recover the account AND the files). Backups in the basement (of someone elses house) are always the safest thing, but they are hardly as easy as a cloud service, so for any not-so-dedicated user who is likely to make no backups at all, cloud is the solution.

Re:Cloud != Backup (2)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 8 months ago | (#45829843)

Augh! A mirrored folder to the cloud is _not_ backup!

Well, it sorta depends. Some variants do versioning; Acronis does this, and I think Carbonite does, too.

This is the same story as RAID drives. That's adding redundancy/resiliency. In the event of a failure of your local drive, yes, there's a second copy elsewhere. But in the event of "oops, I accidentally deleted a file I wanted to keep" you're out of luck.

This is also true. However, the underlying point here is that there are different means of accounting for different kinds of failures. A RAID-1 means that you're screwed if you hit the 'delete' button, but a disk failure won't bit-bucket everything on the drive. Cloud syncing with a provider that enables versioning means that you can go back and fix an 'oops', but very few of them are going to give enough storage to do a multiversion backup of even a healthy-sized My Pictures folder without being expensive to the point that it's more cost effective to buy a Western Digital My Book World Edition or similar.

Personally, I use BitTorrent Sync to go to my FreeNAS box, which has 30 days worth of snapshots on the dataset containing the folders I sync, itself on a RAID-6. It's great, it's simple, it's free, it's fast on my LAN, it stores in real-time, and the storage on the NAS dwarfs that of my laptop.

Re:Cloud != Backup (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 8 months ago | (#45830017)

Well no, not unless the "cloud" storage provider allows you to restore deleted files, or old versions of files. Dropbox does, for example.

Re:Cloud != Backup (1)

fermion (181285) | about 8 months ago | (#45830087)

This is obviously advice for MS Windows, so a mirrored backup may be all that many people can deal with. However, I agree that if one has a way of doing continuous incremental backup, it does provide value. There seem to be a lot of cloud backup services that do incremental. But a simple mirror certainly will not do this.

My concern is the lack of whole system backup as part of the plan. This is clearly a MS Windows issue as MS does not seem to like to give consumer end users carte blanche to restore the system. However, as been mentioned, this is the easiest way to deal with some very horrible problems.

I would invest in something like Acronis and a terabyte hard drives. Backup the whole machine every few days. Incremental backup daily.

#1 Should Be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829515)

#1 should be "Install Linux". But it isn't.

The cloud? Again?? How about a local backup, you know, that doesn't require you to upload everything you have to some unknown host?

You shouldn't use an Admin account on Windows as your normal account. Use a limited account and type in the admin user/pass when necessary.

Mysterious problems? That's called malware.

Arrgghhh!

Re:#1 Should Be (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about 8 months ago | (#45830091)

The cloud? Again?? How about a local backup, you know, that doesn't require you to upload everything you have to some unknown host? /quote.

I hear local backups aren't very resilient when your house burns down or gets burglarized.

0) Install Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829519)

I like my list better

Re:0) Install Linux (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#45829575)

Running only a terminal session.

Then I never have to worry about loaning my machine to anyone, guest accounts or whatever.

Suggestions and options. (0)

Bomarc (306716) | about 8 months ago | (#45829541)

(1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one.

If you don't have antivirus, you shouldn't have a computer. Note that AVG works fine.

(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups.

Ever hear of a USB hard drive? Get two, and rotate them; placing one in a safe-deposit box. Use "Windows Backup" ... and create an emergency boot disk; keep it in the safe-deposit box.

(3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer.

That way a hacker can have another means to get into your system!

(4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently.

... or use "Windows Update" (presumption you have Windows installed) ... it automatically creates a System Restore point.

Re:Suggestions and options. (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#45829879)

Very good points. My few additions:

#1: MSE or Windows Defender that comes with Windows 8 and newer. AV doesn't catch much anyway, other than Malwarebytes which blocks by IP, something no other products do. In addition, use a browser (Chrome, Opera, Firefox) that has AdBlock. By blocking the malicious sites, that is dealing with most of the infection vectors right there. SpywareBlaster is another nice tool which installs killbits, restrictions, and blacklists cookies.

#2: The cloud can easily kill data as a HDD. I've had a sync error blow away all my Dropbox files. So, having an external drive for backups is important.

#3: This is a wise thing to do, although going with the separate account is keeping it disabled until it is needed.

#4: System restore is bullshit. I've yet to see it actually be of any use against malware. Even against trashed drivers, it is iffish at best.

Previous Versions on documents functionality can be useful, but trying to "restore" the OS using System Restore may bring more pain than it cures. Instead, one should use a backup program that can do image backups, and dump to an external hard disk, switching them out every so often. That way, if one is certain malware stung them at a point of time, they can boot OS media, format the system drives, reload from the stored backup image, or even more secure, format, reload the machine from known good media, reload apps, then recopy the documents. That way, if malware did infect the backup media, the damage is mitigated.

Of course, for crucial documents, backing them up to CD-R, DVD+R, or BD+R is a good thing since once the media is finalized, it will be extremely difficult for malware to tamper with a burned copy.

As for cloud storage, it is just another piece of media, like tape, CDs, or USB flash drives. Each has their good points, each has their disadvantages. A good backup procedure uses different media types. A good compromise might be copying files to a TrueCrypt container on a Dropbox partition.

Re: Suggestions and options. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829917)

Don't be a moron. You can't author viruses on a machine that has an AV on it. The frickin thing keeps deleting the payload.

Create a non-administrative account for yourself ! (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#45829561)

Create a non-administrative account for yourself, not just your guests. You are a security problem too.

AV Default (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 8 months ago | (#45829573)

So what is the default solution for free (or paid) AV software these days?

Re:AV Default (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 8 months ago | (#45829769)

Kaspersky or if *ix Clam

Re:AV Default (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 8 months ago | (#45829871)

So what is the default solution for free (or paid) AV software these days?

Microsoft Security Essentials for the free stuff - I'd like AVG or Avast or Avira more if they weren't the Overly Attached Girlfriend of software.

ESET's NOD32 for the paid variety. It doesn't nag, it doesn't go nuts on your CPU or RAM, and it's very accurate.

Pro tip: Don't be an idiot (5, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#45829589)

All four tips boil down to "don't be an idiot", and not one of them is specific to a "new laptop". Here are my equally-insightful tips:

  • Don't take your laptop to the beach. It might seem like a great idea, but direct sunlight can be hazardous to your computer's health.
  • Remove the stickers from the keyboard bezel. You can give them to small children, who will be thrilled with the colorful logos, and then your laptop won't be messy when they fall off in a few years.
  • Don't use your laptop as an ersatz Frisbee. Again, the big danger here is that your laptop could be exposed to too much direct sunlight. Also, being heavier than most flying toys, your laptop could cause injury to your friends.
  • Don't use your laptop's fan as a bellows. While it may seem like a lot of air is coming out of your laptop's vents, the fans inside just can't handle the stress of being used as any kind of air compressor .
  • Even if you think you don't need it, be sure to buy a power cord if your laptop doesn't come with one. Your new laptop is a marvel of technology, but it's likely not very well-trained. You'll need to use the power cord as a leash to prevent it from embarking on a murderous rampage through your house.
  • Finally, be aware that your chiclet keyboard is not actually made of Chiclets [wikipedia.org] . I say "be aware", because if you actually try to eat your keys, you may cause damage to your new laptop.

Re:Pro tip: Don't be an idiot (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829705)

Pro-Tip - don't be a condescending asshole.

Re:Pro tip: Don't be an idiot (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#45829869)

Pro-Tip - don't be a condescending asshole.

But then who would make slashdot posts?

Re:Pro tip: Don't be an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829931)

Remove the stickers from the keyboard bezel

This brings up an old rule of thumb I use: the more advertising stickers left on the computer, the less thorough (and caring) the computer user, and hence the less thorough (and caring) you need to be in fixing the computer.

woah, there Nellie. (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | about 8 months ago | (#45829593)

Umm. Malwarebytes is a *removal* tool that doesn't offer real-time virus scanning. It's only useful after the machine is infected. It scares me when a "how-to" post has only 4 points, and one of them is so blisteringly wrong that it makes you suspect the OP doesn't actually know how to drive a computer.

Re:woah, there Nellie. (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 8 months ago | (#45829647)

Also, AVG has become bloated in recent years and wants more and more attention from the user.

Re:woah, there Nellie. (1)

beatle42 (643102) | about 8 months ago | (#45829729)

If you get the Pro version it has realtime protection, but that's not free.

Re:woah, there Nellie. (1)

robinsonne (952701) | about 8 months ago | (#45829735)

I believe their "Premium" paid version does provide some real-time scanning. Having never used it, I don't know how useful it is beyond it's removal tool capabilities.

Re:woah, there Nellie. (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 8 months ago | (#45829979)

Yes, and that's a Good Thing. Real-time virus scanning is an active menace to anyone who actually uses their computer to do anything intensive. It causes no end of unnecessary trouble on my development machine at work, and I flat out won't allow it to be installed on my system at home.

My Personal Tip (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829603)

1) If you buy a new Win 8 laptop, immediately replace with your favorite Linux flavor. Don't even bother with dual boot.

2) If you are unfamiliar with Linux or how to install it, then buy a Mac.

3) Don't ask me for Win 8 support. I don't know. I don't want to know. Windows 8 is dead to me :)

Re:My Personal Tip (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829665)

Windows 8 is dead to me :)

Can you help me with Vista?

Re:My Personal Tip (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#45830045)

3) Don't ask me for Win 8 support. I don't know. I don't want to know. Windows 8 is dead to me :)

My Windows 98 box has been really slow and wont let me download games. Someone said I need to clear my temporary internet files but, I was afraid I would lose all my porn if I did that, since that is where it always downloads to

Re:My Personal Tip (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 8 months ago | (#45830139)

My suggestion too. But make sure that laptop runs linux before buying it (and don't get bricked like some samsung laptops [pcworld.com] , you are at risk even using only windows). And check that the hardware is supported even if you install Linux on it, some vendors don't (at least the local Samsung representative here don't give support/replace defective ones if you install something else).

And remember, all the antivirus that you put on it won't stop the backdoors that the NSA is installing on them [theverge.com] . Installing Linux (reinstalling it if is one of the cases that come preinstalled) is a must if you care at all about your privacy or your data.

Shove your data into the cloud (3, Interesting)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 8 months ago | (#45829615)

Unencypted personal data should never be stored in the cloud. If you need a revision control system use one, If you need backups use one. Neither is particularly hard, hell windows built in backup works pretty well. But encrypt anything leaving your possession (not a bad idea for stuff not leaving your possession either) but basic bits like bios HD passwords work pretty well without any performance penalty.

"If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus..." (2)

Arduenn (2908841) | about 8 months ago | (#45829655)

(1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one.

Or, if you don't want to use an anit-virus program, at least use a Netbook/Chromebook/GNU Linux/OS X?

This is what slashdot has come to ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829677)

Time to find another site to read. Long time lurker of this "news for nerds site" sad day today.

Did I just stumble onto ZDNet? (2)

Xpilot (117961) | about 8 months ago | (#45829685)

This isn't even a thorough article. Slashdot has jumped the shark so bad since the last time I was here.

Re:Did I just stumble onto ZDNet? (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 8 months ago | (#45830053)

Ever since Dice got their dick in Slashdot, its gone down the crapper.. I keep asking myself why I still come back here.. Force of habit I guess..

Piffle... (1)

koan (80826) | about 8 months ago | (#45829695)

"(1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one."
Never had a positive, other than the EICAR file I tested the damn things with, but sure, go ahead.

"(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups. "
Don't use the cloud if your data is important, use 2 external drives, one mirroring the other.

"(3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer."
Never, ever, let anyone else use your computer, phone or other device, if you can't figure out why...

"(4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently."
When I see system restore I think Windows, if you need Windows run it as a virtual machine, for the rest of that know what we are doing system restore is turned off.

Re:Piffle... (1)

iamnotasmurf (3464141) | about 8 months ago | (#45830049)

Let me extend 3 with - (3.1) NEVER EVER CONNECT TO YOUR WORK NETWORK FROM YOUR PERSONAL INTERNET CONNECTION (3.2) NEVER EVER USE A PASSWORD IN WORK THAT IS USED FOR SOME ASPECT OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. As regards to (4) Windows 7 (not sure about others and I certainly won't say otherwise) has a handy option that if you delete a file you can restore it to an older version despite specifically remembering that I did not turn on windows backup. The IT guy in work who i'm referring to in points 3.1 and 3.2 said that they developed that option...what a wanker HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Is today opposite day? (4, Insightful)

General Anders (3382601) | about 8 months ago | (#45829757)

This reminds me of a computer tip that a non-computer savvy person will tell their non-computer savvy friends, who then end up calling tech support for a product that doesn't support their home setup, and then the person on the other end has to explain how real-life works (me). 1. Don't rely on an anti-virus program. Your primary defense is a. not being stupid (which is doing things like visiting pron sites, sites with tons of popups, etc), install noscript, and if you must, periodically install anti-virus and run a full scan. 2. Cloud isn't a backup. If you want a backup, spend a little bit of effort. If your stuff is important, back it up yourself. Use your brain and use redundancy if it's actually important to you. 3. Don't let pesky friends use your computer, especially unsupervised. You don't know what kind of sites they are going to visit and what malware they are going to install. 4. Never use system restore. Just backup your stuff, don't install malware (or "Free" programs that want to install themselves with your real programs) and don't follow horrible tips on slashdot (which I would have expected more of)

Better sync/backup (4, Interesting)

gaspyy (514539) | about 8 months ago | (#45829773)

First, syncing to cloud is not backup. Second, being at the mercy of a provider doesn't strike me as a good idea in long-term.

Better invest in a NAS. A 2-bay Synology would suffice. 2 4TB drives in Mirrored Raid work great. WD has the "red" line of drives specifically made and tested for NAS storage. They are not as fast but run cool, silent, no vibrations.

Most NAS units run on linux so you can easily add syncing, versioning, "personal cloud", maybe use to play movies on smart TVs via DLNA and so on.

Finally, from time to time do proper backups. For home use, proper backup means burning data on DVD/BD - on 2 separate discs.

What. The. Fuck. Is this doing on slashdot? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829777)

Excuse the language and the caps, but... SERIOUSLY? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS DOING ON SLASHDOT?

Is this site called "News For Nerds, Stuff that Matters" or "Site that links to trivial shitadvice you sent to your computer-illiterate parents if you do not want to talk to them yourself about it?"

What was the person who submitted this thinking? What was the editor who put it here was thinking? Are we getting trolled by one or the two? A lot of questions we will not find an answer to, simply because it does not exist. Slashdot, are we ending the year with a total low, are we?

Re:What. The. Fuck. Is this doing on slashdot? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#45829993)

since most of us use real operating systems instead of Bill G's program loader we don't keep up with what the best practices for a non-tech windows user would be

so quit your whining

Knew the poster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829781)

Saw this article, realized it was not for the target audience of the blog, then realized it must be a timothy post, and lo it was. Dude keeps his rep sparkling.

Good thinking there. (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#45829805)

(1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, or even if you do, immediately delete, destroy and cleanse with fire all pre-installed 'security' software. After you have finished that, use an angle grinder to finish the job, as this stuff can be particularly difficult to remove.

(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless access by law enforcement and law violation agencies. Be sure to include all of your account names and passwords in a file called "yellow-sticky-note-on-the-monitor.txt" for the convenience of everyone who trawls through your gooskybox.

(3) Create a non-administrator account, in case you want to use your computer without blowing it up. The convenience of not having to authorize system changes isn't worth the damage you could do.

(4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose when you ignored rule three. If you ignored rule one I can't help you, you're on your own.

Re:Good thinking there. (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 8 months ago | (#45830029)

Here's what I do when I get a new machine from retail: I immediately reinstall a matching clean copy of Windows - from Microsoft images, without any crapware. It takes way less time than dealing with preinstalled crap. Most of the time, with Windows 7 and 8, the drivers just magically install themselves.

Dangerously retarded shit advice. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829815)

"(2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups."

NO. Fuck off already. I never want to hear anyone suggesting/promoting "the cloud" again.

"The cloud" is newspeak for "somebody else's computer".

Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829835)

Oh I though this was slashdot. I guess I logged into MSNBC accidentally.

Save files to a folder ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829861)

... that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless surveillance by the NSA.

Masking tape over the built-in camera (1)

Compact Dick (518888) | about 8 months ago | (#45829865)

Value your privacy.

Re: Masking tape over the built-in camera (1)

Dzimas (547818) | about 8 months ago | (#45829997)

Actually, I suspect that tapping the mic would yield far more useful intelligence. After all, the camera will simply capture hundreds of hours of your poorly lit head and glazed eyes. The mic, on the other hand, will capture every single conversation in the room.

SpiderOak for secure cloud backups (1)

grub (11606) | about 8 months ago | (#45829877)

My vote goes to SpiderOak [spideroak.com] for zero-knowledge, dedupe'd backups.

Mod -1, obsolete (4, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 8 months ago | (#45829929)

If you're buying a laptop for anyone competent, they won't be running Windows on it (or if the do, it's their problem). If you're buying a laptop for anyone incompetent, they shouldn't be running Windows on it. Patching a hopelessly insecure operating system with anti-virus and other bloatware is so twentieth century. Chrome OS [wikipedia.org] is a far better solution for non-technical users.

a bit more practical list of tips (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 8 months ago | (#45829961)

1 hit ninite.com first thing to get your "Must have tool for X" things (hint avast , 7zip , classic shell and teamviewer are a "good idea"

2 its a bit techy but WSUSOffline can be used to speed up the process of getting your patches done

3 adblock plus can be installed on all of FireFox , MSIE and Chrome for very good reasons

4 before you panic or install something call %tech_friend% to verify things

WTF (1)

Feadin (766801) | about 8 months ago | (#45829967)

Why the fuck is this on Slashdot?

Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829985)

Because "Install a Free operating system" solves all their problems!

Gawd, you Linux weenies are so irritating!

In EU, you can refuse to pay "Microsoft tax" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45829987)

In EU, you can refuse to pay "Microsft tax" and get your laptop without OS, even if it's pre-installed on that new laptop of yours.
Yes, the sales guy will whine and tell you BS stories. They have to remove Microsoft OS, scrape off that licence sticker and you get the price reduced by the cost of crap Microsoft attempted to forcefeed you.

  Done it many times over the years.

Cheers!

Or... (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 8 months ago | (#45829991)

OR do what I did on the new laptop I got for Christmas.. Booted the thing up to make sure it worked, then pulled the original drive out, and slapped a spare drive in and installed Debian Linux.. If perchance the machine gives me the finger some time during the warrantee period, I can pull the Linux drive out and avoid all the "We don't support Linux" crap from support... Actually beginning to like Gnome3 on Debian 7.. Since the machine has 8GB of ram, I went with 64 bit (why would ANYone in 2013 still use a 32 bit OS???), but, unbeknownst to me, the old way of running 32bit apps (ia32-libs) on a 64 bit OS has been replaced on the newer distros with multiarch.. Alas some 32bit apps are not multiarch-aware and makes for a really fun bit of work to get them to play nicely.. Takes me back to the mid 90s with Linux and Xfree86...

How to reply to requests for tech support (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 8 months ago | (#45830003)

Fixing that on your PC will take me a couple of hours. The bottom of my garden needs a couple of hours digging. Do we have a deal ?

Better idea (1, Interesting)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 8 months ago | (#45830043)

I just go with my family and friends when they want a new notebook. I check out the software and hardware and I make sure it fits there needs. I always get them to buy good quality computer protection software like Norton 360 and I always tell them to call me before anyone touches the computer for work, such as a futureshop or bestbuy. The biggest single point that I can make or recommend, NEVER buy a notebook from a seller who can't tell you solid hardware details, such as the audio chipset, the rev on the processor or model of the HDD. The reason being if they can't give you the proper stats, they shouldn't be selling notebooks. I also always make sure they buy a backup drive and make sure they setup Norton or any other software to auto backup for them. Basically I just help them get to a steady state and from that point on I just make sure I'm around for repairs or help. Never send someone who doesn't know how to, to buy computer hardware, they will get bullied into buying what they don't need.
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