As a senior, you likely fall into one of two computer-user groups: frequent or just occasional user. Either way, you want to keep your computer healthy and running fast, and you want to keep your computer and data safe while you’re online. Below you’ll find tips and free versions of top-tier products to do the heavy lifting for you.
Computer Tips for Seniors
To keep your computer and data safe, we’ll address two key areas:
- Online safety
Maintenance removes viruses, malware, and key loggers (bits of code that allow hackers to see what you type) that infect your computer and keeps your hard drive clean, optimized, and running fast.
- Download Windows and program updates when your computer pops up an alert to get the latest bug fixes and security updates.
- Antivirus: New computers come with an antivirus program installed; it’s often a time-limited version that requires a purchase in 30 days. AVG is an excellent free antivirus product. Schedule weekly virus scans to remove viruses. The paid version ($69) includes comprehensive Internet security and protection for tablets and smartphones.
- Disk Optimization: Windows includes a built in “defragger” that restores files that have broken apart and landed in bits and pieces all over your hard drive, which causes programs and large files to open slowly. Smart Defrag 2 is even better — download it and set it to run in the background while you work.
- Malware: Internet sites deposit bits of code on your computer that spy on your activity. Download Spybot to remove malware that most antivirus programs leave behind.
- Junk Files: Temporary files that your computer routinely creates but no longer needs can eventually fill your hard drive and slow your computer to a crawl. Download CCleaner for easy removal. It knows where to find these files and scrubs them.
Online Safety: The following computer tips for seniors will help keep your computer and personal data safe from malware and intrusion when you’re online:
- Firewall: Windows includes a firewall that blocks unauthorized access to your computer (like your neighbors’ kids rummaging through your files). Run it unless you have another firewall. If you’re not running a firewall, Windows will prompt you with a popup screen to turn it on with a click of your mouse.
- Internet Browser: Windows installs the Internet Explorer browser, but Firefox is probably as close to a “perfectly safe” browser as you can get, and it’s a free download with optional free add-ons (sort of like smartphone apps).
- Browser Toolbars: Don’t install any specialized toolbars (especially shopping toolbars) to your web browser unless they’re part of a trustworthy program. Most add-on toolbars include spyware that tracks your online moves and pops up advertising every few seconds. If an installation prompts you to install a toolbar from another company, uncheck that option.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Google offer little privacy. Read their “Terms of Service” and/or “Privacy Statements” for more information. Use StartPage for anonymous searching and Sgrouples for secure, encrypted, and private social media.
The BBC offers a nifty site with lots of computer tips for seniors. It’s easy to use, and you can learn at your own pace. When in doubt, call for help — a grandchild or a niece or nephew. They were raised on computers, and they know the technology cold! Seniors ushered in the computer age, but today’s kids own it — and they love to show off their knowledge!