For your PC of mind
By Marc Saltzman
Q: What actions can I take to keep my new
PC in good health?
A: There are several easy steps to ensure your computer is running smoothly and securely. Here are a
Data backup. It’s extremely important to create a backup (or two) of your important files in case
something happens to your PC, such as fire, theft, a
nasty virus, a failed hard drive or a damaging power
surge (see below). Options include an external hard
drive (which can hold large amounts of data),
recordable DVDs or USB thumbsticks.
Recommended files to back up include documents, photos, video footage, Web bookmarks,
your address book and any other irreplaceable
information. I’d recommend backing up once or
twice a month—or whenever you add critical files
to your PC—and keeping the backup media somewhere other than near your PC. In case of fire, for
example, your backup DVD or external drive could
be damaged, too.
The process varies according to which method
you choose, but backing up is fairly easy. To save
data onto an external hard drive or USB thumbstick
(for smaller jobs), plug the device into an available
USB port, then drag and drop the files onto the new
letter it creates on your computer (such as E: or F:).
Files can be copied onto recordable DVDs
within Windows or with DVD-burning software
such as Roxio or Nero.
Many external hard drives can automatically
find your important files for you and back them up
the moment you snap in the drive, and some can
back up your files on a regular basis (such as every
Friday at 3 a.m.).
You might also consider backing up your data
to free online services, such as Windows Live
www.skydrive.live.com), which gives you
25 gigabytes of free password-protected storage—
and you can access it remotely.
Security software. This software provides
real-time defense against damaging viruses, spy-ware, spam, inappropriate Web sites and phishing
attempts (authentic-looking sites that try to scam
you out of money). Be sure to allow the software to
download frequent updates to protect you against
the latest threats as soon as they’re identified.
Also: ■ Extending battery life
Not only do these software suites shield
your PC (and wallet) from harm, they can
also make your computer run faster. Many
of the top security packages, such as those
from Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky or
AVG, let you install the software on up to
three PCs in your home.
Battery backup and surge
protection. A battery-powered
backup system protects your data if
the power goes out at your home
or office and ensures you can continue working through short and
medium-length power outages.
Another must-have device is a
power-surge protector to ensure that
your computer and data won’t be damaged due to
voltage spikes (such as after the power returns
to your home after a storm). Many power strips
have surge protection built in and are labeled as
such; many include ports for a phone line, Ethernet
connection and cable.
Q: I love my smartphone, but battery life is
an issue. Any tips?
A: Smartphones can be used for messaging, photography, music, games, GPS and surfing Web sites.
Oh, yes—they also make calls. But with all they can
do, there’s a trade-off: battery life. Consider these
tips on how to extend it.
■ A smartphone’s built-in radios—such as Wi-Fi,
GPS and Bluetooth—can drain the battery. If you
don’t need them, turn off some or all of these radios.
■ Dim the brightness on your phone; the brighter
your screen, the faster it’ll eat away at your battery.
Make sure your screen is set to turn off if it detects
inactivity for a minute or two.
■ Don’t leave your smartphone in a hot or cold
environment, such as in a car for a few hours.
■ Download the latest software updates for your
phone from the smartphone’s manufacturer, as
engineers are always trying to find new ways to
extend battery life. C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? E-mail them to:
Or send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to (425) 313-6718.
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
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On Costco.com, enter “Connection.”
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Costco carries a variety of products from leading manufacturers to keep your PC safe; look for
them in the warehouses and at Costco.com. These
include external hard drives, recordable DVDs,
flash-memory devices, security software, battery
backup systems and surge protectors.
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