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Security Christmas Cheer Windows Hardware IT

4 Tips For Your New Laptop 310

Posted by timothy
from the do-not-use-it-to-carve-meat dept.
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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4 Tips For Your New Laptop

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  • Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:10PM (#45829437)

    News for noobs,
    Stuff that doesn't matter.

    • Re:Slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JMJimmy (2036122) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:38PM (#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.

      • (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?

        • by NIK282000 (737852)

          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.

          • Good techies have realised that telling your average user to use USB drives for backup is the same as telling them "dont worry about it, you can start over when you have a drive failure". The number of times Ive been asked to help with a recovery, and the local backup was screwed / non-existent, is unbelievable. A number of times the user was convinced they had a backup.

            One of the biggest pros for cloud backups is that they tend to alert you via email when something goes wrong. Theres not really a practi

        • by JMJimmy (2036122)

          (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]

          • by JMJimmy (2036122)

            I should expand on this:

            Lazy way: Buy a single USB Key to backup essential data - attach it to your key chain so that as long as you are safe it should be too (not recommended for those who lose their keys a lot)

            Slightly less lazy way: Encrypt said data and have 2 USB keys with the same data, store them in different places/ways.

            Serious way: Buy a security deposit box and 2 hardware encrypted USB keys. Store 1 in the box and use the 2nd as your "active backup" - switch them out every 30 days or so so the

            • I would like something like Apple's Time Machine. It's simple to use, automatic, doesn't suck up resources, convenient to browse and restore from. Nothing for Windows is that useful and also free, and Microsoft keeps changing their default backup application every release.

              The drawback is lack of dual drives for backing up to, in case the user is hyper paranoid about fire. But seriously, if your computer is the only repository of you incredibly valuable baby photos, there are more problems to deal with th

            • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

              by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @08:22PM (#45833741)

              I should expand on this:

              Lazy way: Buy a single USB Key to backup essential data - attach it to your key chain so that as long as you are safe it should be too (not recommended for those who lose their keys a lot)

              Slightly less lazy way: Encrypt said data and have 2 USB keys with the same data, store them in different places/ways.

              Serious way: Buy a security deposit box and 2 hardware encrypted USB keys. Store 1 in the box and use the 2nd as your "active backup" - switch them out every 30 days or so so the most you stand to lose is 30 days worth of data.

              Hardcore way: Hardcopy everything and store offsite.

              USB key can be substituted for a proper external harddrive if data storage levels require it but I don't recommend trying to put the harddrive on your key chain.

              Why are techies so out of touch with The Real World(tm)?

              Unless you're visiting your parents/friends/cousins/etc houses on a weekly basis (not a bad idea), then guess what? USB keys will back up once. Honest truth - users will not lift a finger to back up. If it doesn't happen automatically, or requires manual intervention, it will not happen. It's a chore, and unless you do it regularly for them, it will not happen.

              I'm sure everyone's run across the "can you restore a file for me? I have backups!" only to find the backups ended a year ago because they "would do it next week".

              To be honest, the cloud backups are probably spyware, but they're also convenient. They don't do a single thing, and it's there. Their PC die? Well, their documents are patiently waiting on Dropbox, Skydrive, GDrive, whatever. Hell, set up OwnCloud on your own server farm and set up the client on your parents PC so it backs up there.

              You think these tips suck? To be honest, they're basic, and really, they're also geared for the real world. Computers are meant to automate boring tasks. Why are we forced to do stuff the computer can do automatically?

              Or do you really think that companies like Apple are all marketing? They understand the real world - that's why they do stuff like Time Machine - a simple, quiet, out of the way backup mechanism! Or auto-save, working on Time Machine that lets you go back to an earlier revision of a document, view it, copy and paste, etc,?

              You know, Microsoft made an excellent backup product - called Windows Home Server. Backs up the network nightly, does de-dupe, images every machine, etc. Silent, runs in the background, even wakes the machine to backup. Alas, it's discontinued, but it is one of the best things around - it just works.

              And anyone worried about NSA or "not owning the data" as an excuse to not have an automated backup plan? Guess what - which is worse - telling your parents/kids/etc that they should've taken the effort while you sit there trying to recover the data manually spending hours, or just retrieving the file for them? You can lecture all about the NSA as you want, and it'll fall on deaf ears.

              Users won't backup unless it happens automatically. Users will also let others use their PCs. That's the real world and anyone who says otherwise hasn't worked in a real IT department. Users are way too clever. If you ban use of thumb drives, they will either use cloud storage to share files, the file server will fill up with useless crap (intermixed with vital project information and somehow required for production), or users will send emails of the files around.

              Hell, you probably think Android's permission system is "pretty cool" when in fact, it's a perfect example of dancing pigs [wikipedia.org] security. I.e., it's insecurity at its finest. Unless you're a techie. Which I can bet the vast majority of the 80% of Android users are not. Hell, I'm sure most of them think Android is an iPhone with pirated apps.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          http://iosafe.com/ [iosafe.com]

          OR the poor mans choice. Two cheapie external drives. take one to work every friday and bring the other back. Works great but requires the user to not be lazy.

        • Make a backup. The cloud is not a backup. The cloud is a way for Microsoft, Google, or Amazon to look at your pictures too before passing them on to the NSA. Thumb drives are much cheaper and do not require a high end internet connection.

          The best tip for novice users is to ignore anything Timothy says.

          (sorry about the title, silly beta slashdot requires one it seems)

      • While Bennett's advice is pretty poor, your response isnt much better.
        1) Either way your system has to perform heuristics (or it will be worthless vs new viruses), and has to hash the file to send to "the cloud". I suspect that the whole "cloud backup" thing is a bunch of marketing crap; im sure there are some benefits, but today's processors are remarkably good at the sort of stuff AV does, and a good AV (NOT SYMANTEC / MCAFEE) will not chew up all of your resources.

        I also thought your #2 point was railin

      • by edibobb (113989)
        Also...
        1. Forget antivirus. Just don't click unknown attachments.
        2. Get a USB drive. Uploads are slow.
        3. It takes 3 seconds to create a new user account for your friend. Wait until you need it so you don't forget the password.
        4. "System Restore can help fix problems that might be making your computer run slowly or stop responding." Someone please inform Myers [smh.com.au]
      • No, if a friend needs to use your computer then you need to monitor their use at all times

        Errr... what's wrong with your friends?

  • by slk (2510) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:11PM (#45829449)
    and you are going to have to support it, buy them either an iPad or a Chromebook.
    • 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.

      • 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.

        • by i.r.id10t (595143)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705)

            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 spe

        • by CreatureComfort (741652) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:39PM (#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.
    • by DogDude (805747)
      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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by recoiledsnake (879048) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:16PM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:35PM (#45829797) Homepage
        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.
        • by zlives (2009072)

          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...

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            I don't use bitlocker, So I haven't experienced that problem. I'm not sure what the alternative is though. Definitely can't have the system storing the key on the permanent storage. Isn't that the whole point of bitlocker? Accessing the data requires entering the password.
    • by Minwee (522556)
      Or better yet, an etch-a-sketch [dilbert.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:12PM (#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.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:12PM (#45829465) Homepage Journal

    "(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.

    • Yes the ransomware will encrypt your cloud backups and mounted network drives -- it's not at all limited to your user folder. If the cloud backup service keeps an archive then you might be OK, but the free DropBox service doesn't.
  • Cloud != Backup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Imagix (695350) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:15PM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by bryanp (160522) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:27PM (#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.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        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 t

    • 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

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

    • by fermion (181285)
      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 t

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Um, the vast majority of cloud backup services are versioned, which invalidates your entire point. As much as slashdotters love to bash on basically any tech that's appeared since 1997 (and even some well before that), there are some intelligent and competent people working on these new technologies and they have indeed thought about problems like those. I know, how bewildering!
    • Re:Cloud != Backup (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chewbacon (797801) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:46PM (#45830647)

      Dropbox and even BitTorrent sync has versioning support. Better than nothing.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:18PM (#45829561)
    Create a non-administrative account for yourself, not just your guests. You are a security problem too.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)
      Huge issue here. In fact, doing this will get rid of the top three reasons you'd want to create a "guest" account anyway. The only remaining issue is folks messing with your desktop. Well, that and one regular guest who likes to hit that damn "mute" button I didn't even know my keyboard had..
  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:20PM (#45829589) Homepage

    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.
    • by tompaulco (629533)

      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.

      I've seen a few of these chiclet keyboards. Apparently they are the new fad. I guess I was just 30 years ahead of my time because my TRS-80 had chiclet keys and i thought it was awesome, but everybody looked down their noses at me.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:21PM (#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.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:22PM (#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 :)

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      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

    • by gmuslera (3436)

      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 (re

    • by NIK282000 (737852)

      Because MS will clearly release Windows 9 as a clone of XP and all the Windows 8 knowledge you have ignored wont matter. No wait, they will continue to update like usual and in a few releases you will be woefully behind the industry standard.

  • by silas_moeckel (234313) <{silas} {at} {dsminc-corp.com}> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:22PM (#45829615) Homepage

    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.

  • (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?

  • by Xpilot (117961) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:28PM (#45829685) Homepage
    This isn't even a thorough article. Slashdot has jumped the shark so bad since the last time I was here.
    • 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..

  • by General Anders (3382601) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:33PM (#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)
    • The sad thing is, half the comments on this site are saying how obvious this advice is, and the other half are saying how obviously bad it is. Sigh.
  • Better sync/backup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gaspyy (514539) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:33PM (#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.

  • (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 "yel

    • by tibit (1762298)

      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.

      • I immediately reinstall a matching clean copy of Windows - from Microsoft images

        Where do you get the images?

  • Mod -1, obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:44PM (#45829929) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847)
    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 t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lazere (2809091)

      I always get them to buy good quality computer protection software like Norton 360

      You lost all credibility with this sentence...

  • Create an additional administrative account, with a complex password (but don't lose it). You will use this to effect repairs if malware infects your main profile. (Most Win6.x malware is confined to the user profile and C:\ProgramData folders to avoid the UAC prompt).

    Download the Hosts file from http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm [mvps.org], which will protect you from all kinds of threats (and it hides a buttload of advertising, too).
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:20PM (#45830371) Journal
    "The Cloud", frankly, sucks.

    The bandwidth of your Internet connection is a fraction of the bandwidth of a local storage device will be.
    "The Cloud", in spite of any encryption used, still puts your data at risk of snooping and theft even from the company providing the service.
    "Cloud" service providers aren't forever. Enjoy having one go out of business and take you data with it, or fall prey to hackers that trash your data.
    The NSA loves "The Cloud" because it makes their job of snooping that much easier for them.

    Just buy a USB hard drive and back up your important stuff to that then put it away in a safe place (safe deposit box at your bank if it's that important), or if it's small enough to burn to a DVD or Bluray disc, do that and store the disc(s) somewhere safe. Even USB flash drives come in sizes of hundreds of gigabytes and are not anywhere near as expensive as they used to be.
  • by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:20PM (#45830375)

    I have just one tip: Install Linux. Then you don't have to worry about tips 1 through 4. (Well, I guess you could still consider 2, rsync is your friend).

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:26PM (#45830443)

    Don't backup to the cloud anything of a personal nature such as itineraries, credit card and purchase receipts, anything with your identity in it or your address, anything of a business sensitive nature or related to sensitive health issues the list goes on and on, just anything that could be used by criminals to harm you or identify you or anyone you have documents concerning.

    The problem is, there's no reason to believe that the cloud storage corporations will be any more effective at guarding against intrusion and theft than Target or any of the other thousands of credit card data breaches that are occurring on a rolling basis.

    As soon as you outsource your disk drive to the cloud, you are giving thieves a view into something that would have no hope of viewing otherwise- everything on your computer.

    It's far too burdensome for most people to divide their hard drive folders into "potentially sensitive" and otherwise. It's not how people think or organize their drives and what's potentially sensitive is not well defined.

    A better way to achieve security is through a couple common external hard drives, (make a back up of your back up with the second one). Using very modestly priced or even free backup software that's scheduled to wake the computer and run (Seagate gives free backup software with some their external disk drives) will give you all the data redundancy you need and if you use a back up once a week to an encrypted drive (Samsungs SDD are both hardy to drops and shocks- no moving parts and come automatically encrypted) that spends the rest of its time *somewhere else* (work, a friends or relative's house house) then you've safeguarded against fire and natural disaster with at most a week's lost data.

    I made a chart that details all the different ways that you can lose data or have it compromised and effective responses to them. unfortunately I can't post it here but I can list the threats . The ones in bold have actually happened to me and resulted in significant data loss. The arrows point to countermeasures. They are
    multiple physical external drives, multiple storage locations for drives, versioned backups on all backup drives , different power lines (internal cables) for each internal drive, surge protection , encryption.

    Maybe no one is likely to do all these, OTOH with just two external and one internal drives you could and if it's automated there is no hassle. It's looks more complicated than it is. Also for small valuable files, you could use multiple cheap USB drives and keep them at different locations, encrypting each.

    Backup plan:

    accidental overwrite during backup --> versioned backups, multiple disk backups

    accidental overwrite during editing --> backups generally

    drive failure --> multiple disk backups

    lost drive --> encryption

    virus / spying --> encryption

    power surge / misbehaving power supply lines --> different power lines for internal backup drives, surge protection for external backup drives

    lightening,--> surge protections, multiple physical locations

    fire, natural disaster--> multiple physical locations

    break in, theft--> multiple physical locations, encryption

    HTH

  • by codeusirae (3036835) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:54PM (#45830727)
    Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Sabayon .. link [distrowatch.com]
  • Dear Timothy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kumanopuusan (698669) <goughnourc AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:09PM (#45830853)

    Please stop approving Bennet "stories." He's a Roland Junior that everyone loves to hate. You're tech savvy, aren't you? Surely you know this submission is some pretty rank tripe.

    TYVM HAHNY

  • by weilawei (897823) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:35PM (#45832651) Homepage
    Last time I remember seeing a piece on here, lots of people screamed at you: USE THE JOURNAL. Stop putting blog posts on /.'s front page. Link to your goddamn journal if you want to use Slashdot as hosting. Furthermore, this entire thing is Winbloze-centric, on a site populated by huge amount of people who use other OSes. Back to CNET or whichever hellhole you came from. Would someone please delete his account?

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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