1. Check for Anti-Virus Updates Daily. If you have an anti-virus program installed or you do not want to pay for updates - uninstall current program by going to the "start button", click on "control panel", click on "programs or programs and features", then "uninstall a program". Uninstall your current anti-virus program then restart your computer. Then go to "download.com" and search for a free anti-virus program such as AVG or AVAST. Make sure you download and install the free version which works just as good as the paid versions of anti-virus programs. You still then need to update them on a daily basis.
2. Check for "Windows Critical Updates" Weekly. Go to "Start Button", "Control Panel" and then to "Windows Updates". Make sure you register on Microsoft.com - you can then automatically have your system update itself when it has an internet connection.
3. Check for "Spyware Updates" Weekly. Free spyware programs such as "SPYBOT" or "ADAWARE" or "DEFENDER" help keep your computer free from people on the internet trying to access your computer from any back doors. Again you can search and download from "download.com".
4. Backup your data weekly. External usb hard drives are relatively inexpensive. Any important pictures or documents can then be copied onto hard drives or even some online resources. If you have a gmail account, you can email yourself and attach really important items to keep them online.
5. Use your "Disk Clean Up", "Scan" and "Defrag" utilities after you backup your data. Click on the "Start Button", "Programs", "Acessories", then "System Tools".
6. Install an adblocker/popup blocker add on within your browser. If you use Firefox - you can click on "Tools" and then addons. In Internet Explorer, this is an option under "Tools".
7. Turn your "Firewall" on. Go to "Start Button", then "Control Panel", "Security", "Windows Firewall" to enable it. If you have a router directly attached to a computer - this is also another firewall to your home network.
8. Most computers now come with a recovery drive - however you need to be able to get to it if you system does not start. With Windows 7 you can go to "Control Panel", "Sytem and Security". Select "Back up your computer", then in the left side of dialog box that opens, choose "Create a system repair disc" to start the process.
9. Print a "System Inventory" of both your hardware & software. You can download and install a free program called "Belarc" from download.com to do this.
10. Export your e-mail address and email groups or use an online email like gmail.com which keeps this info online and not on your computer. If you use an e-mail storing this on your computer, click on your e-mail help function to assist you in exporting your email addresses to an external hard drive.
11. Export your favorites/bookmarks. Click on your browser's help function to export your favorites and bookmarks to an external hard drive. You can also save them online at delicious.com.
12. Sometimes files are compressed or in a zip file. You can go to download.com and search for a free zip program than you can download and install to use on these type files.
13. To enhance your experience while browsing the internet, some plugins such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Quicktime, Flash, Shockwave, Real Player, may be required. You can go to download.com to find out where you can download these free plugins.
14. If all of these things seem to much to do, then you can expect computer issues with a Windows computer. You may want then to consider purchasing a Mac, you will still have to do steps four through thirteen.