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[Michael Blumreich is a contributor for the aptly named laptop review site,  He’s currently a university student and lover of all things tech.]

The internet and computers are great! You can do so much on them! Email, surf the web, online shop,
download music and movies, watch your favorite shows, research for that term paper and even if you are
really lucky have sensitive information stolen from your computer, have a power surge blow your hard
drive or if you are on the go drop and shatter your laptop into pieces. So many people reap the benefits of
the internet and computers without even considering the risks involved in what they do and many of them
end up paying the price in the end. You can prevent these stressful endeavors if you just follow five steps
that will keep your computer and its sensitive information safe.

Step One: Don’t skimp on antivirus software!
There are a number of antivirus software programs out on the market and they are not all the same.
Some come with additional features that could save you in the long run and before you buy one do some research. Besides the household names associated with antivirus software such as Norton, McAfee, AVG etc. there are some new leaders in antivirus software and according to Top Ten Reviews there are some new leaders including Bit Defender,
Kaspersky and Webroot with Spy sweeper taking the top three. All three of these are good options due to the features they include such as, hourly virus definition updates, protection from viruses, worms, Trojans, malware, spyware and root kits, as well as protection on pretty much anything else you will be doing on a computer.

Step Two: Take the time to set up and secure your wifi properly!
Wifi is by far the best thing that has happened to my home! I am no longer tied to a desk with my laptop attached to an Ethernet cable but am now free to roam about my home and yard, knowing I will have a strong signal and access to the internet. I felt this way until my neighbor four houses down had personal information stolen by someone war driving because they had an unsecured wireless network. When securing your wifi network, use WPA or WPA2 encryption because of its difficulty to crack and when making a password, use common sense and make it strong. Also, for added protection of your computer, make sure your computer and any others using your wireless network have a good firewall installed,
making it that much tougher for someone to get at your sensitive information.

Step Three: Back up everything!
If for some reason, either a failure to follow steps one and two or just a mishap such as a hard drive crash, the last thing you want is to have your personal, sensitive information lost forever, or at least temporarily lost. Floppy disks and CD’s are a thing of the past to store your information on and your best bet is an external hard drive. There are a number on the market and trusted names in quality, features and prices include Western Digital, Seagate and LaCie. These three include anywhere from 500GB to 1TB of storage capabilities with additional features such as easy backup and sync software included making them easy to use.

Step Four: Surge Protectors!
Let’s say you just go out and spend $600 on a new PC, $300 on a new monitor, $150 on a new printer, $80 on computer speakers, $125 on an external hard drive and don’t want to pay another $40-$80 on a quality surge protector thinking “oh, that will never happen to me!” Let me tell you from personal experience, it DOES happen and too often! Just recently a friend of mine lost over $1000 worth of equipment when lightning struck his home causing a huge power surge blowing everything electronic he had plugged in. When dealing with high end electronics, spend the extra money and buy a surge protector, and a huge perk, besides protecting your electronics from being fried is that many makers of surge protectors ensure their product up to a certain dollar amount, covering any electronics you may have plugged in!

Step Five: Get a quality carrying case!
The above steps have really been targeted towards at home users. There are however a growing number of people who don’t even buy desktops anymore due to the power packed into so many laptops. With that power also comes a price tag that you should be just as worried about. Something I see almost daily are people carrying laptops unprotected, in flimsy purses, down by the side like cheap text book and lastly, people dropping them and breaking them! Don’t do this to yourself! There are many options available in terms of fashionable laptop cases and bags that protect your laptop from a spill without cramping your style, all you have to do is look.
Like I said, computers are great, but they can put you in a world of hurt if you don’t take care of them so just follow these five simple steps and save yourself the hurt!

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.