The First Aid Box

First aid and what should I the user be doing apart from enjoying the use of my PC ?

What should I be doing before things go wrong?

That is going to depend upon what you use your PC for. If it's more or less a media centre with no stored user data and is not used for Internet banking or similar, then not much. If on the other hand the PC holds vital or business data, then quite a lot.

From experience I would say that there are many threats to data integrity, but not having a functional backup is the most severe.

Have a plan, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance, remember those five Ps.

Backup. Really a misnomer, the object of the exercise is to restore data. Yes backup is important but the integrity of that backup must be assured both in terms of content and it's physical safety. There are plenty of options available, from making DVDs of your important document folders, OneTouch backup devices, right through to network based solutions. I use BackupPC, I use it because it pools files, eliminating duplicates, and the backup is browsable. There are plenty of solutions, use one !

A Restore Point. For Microsoft users, understand what this is, know how to create and return to them.

Safe Mode For Microsoft users, understand Safe Mode and when and how to use it.

Malware. Virus, Trojan, whatever from the legion of the damned sent to destroy your very soul, well maybe not that bad, but bad enough, what can you do about it?

Use Linux or Mac OS X for a start. That may sound a bit sweeping but it doesn't go any way to describe the mess that Windows security has been in in the past, yes it's better now but not best.

Install a virus checker, even on a Linux install, as it is a courtesy to those less fortunate.

Microsoft Security Essentials Is a good place to start, and it's free. There are others, lots both free and expensive, some have a reputation for being intrusive. Some are not at all what they seem.


Cleanliness. If you are confident about doing so; once a year unplug and open up a desktop machine. Make sure fans are rotating and that excessive fluff and lint haven’t built up. With a laptop it's more difficult, try not to get it mucky in the first place.

Read and note error messages.

Have some means of booting other than the installed Operating System.


What can I do after things go wrong?

Don't thrash about. Windows users boot in safe mode. Get your boot disk and backup, I did mention Backup didn't I. Remember those P's

Hardware failure: Hard Drive (your main storage) and power supply are at the top of the list, In both cases replacement is the only practical option. A failing drive should be 'imaged' before recovery is attempted, data recovery then takes place from the image, the suspect drive being used as little as possible.

Below are some brief notes on various topics. Hover over the logo titles for a brief description. Click on the title to open the pdf document appertaining to it.

mail 01
Setting up emailBasic hints on setting up email, overcoming closed off ports

adsl network 02
ADSL and NetworkingA skim over ADSL and Networking for the utter newbie

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BackupBackup those important files and do it regularly, don't forget to test the restore.

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