Ken's Korner Newsletter Logo December 2022
Year-End Checklist 2022

It is time once again for the year end checklist. The new year is right around the corner so now is a great time to do a little maintenance on your computer.

Holiday Warning
It is also important to remember that hackers love holidays. People often get careless about security in the rush to get ready for the holidays and cyber thieves are waiting to pounce as soon as you let your guard down. So, be careful with your credit card and bank account info. Don’t click on links in email that are not from a trusted source and beware of deals that seem too good to be true.

Watch out for phishing e-mails, fake delivery reports and fake charities. Don’t put too much personal information into your letters to Santa. You never know who might be reading them. And keep an eye on your bank accounts for any unauthorized withdrawals.

Santa with list.

With that warning in mind let’s get back to the check list. The first thing to do is make a backup just in case. That way if you do delete something by mistake you can recover it from that backup.

Empty the trash
Sometime called the Recycle bin. While you should do this regularly, like weekly or even daily if you haven’t emptied it in a while, it is surprising how much stuff accumulates in there.

Delete the deleted emails
Most email clients like Outlook don't completely get rid of the messages that you have deleted. It just stores them in the Deleted Items folder. This can be handy if you accidentally deleted something important. But with all the junk mail we get these days it can grow to contain thousands of messages. Delete them along with their various attachments.

Clean up your desktop
Getting rid of unwanted or unused icons and make sure the remaining ones are the ones you actually want and need. By eliminating unwanted or unused files and icons and organizing the ones that remain you'll be able to more easily navigate your desktop.

Temporary files and cache folders
Windows is very good about creating a lot of temporary files and logs, but it is not very good about deleting them. As a result, some of these folders can grow to an immense size. There are third party apps that will clean up your hard drive but Windows has a built-in app that you can use. Search for Disk Cleanup and click the Clean up system files button. I usually check all the checkboxes and click OK.

Uninstall unused apps
We all use a variety of apps for work and play. Some are small, while others are large suites. Over time some of these apps lose their viability and no longer serve any useful function. In Windows go to the Control Panel and click on Programs and features. Scan the list of installed apps and see if there are any that you no longer use. Then right-click and uninstall them. You might have to restart your computer after the uninstall program is done to complete the task.

Check for malware. Run a full scan to see if any digital cretins have crept into your system. It is a good idea to use more than one antivirus program. I like to use Malwarebytes, they have a free version that is capable of scanning in safe mode and it “plays nice” with Windows defender.

Update Windows
This should be done automatically, but sometimes it doesn’t update for a variety of reasons. You can check update history in Windows 10 by clicking on the four squares in the lower left part of the screen. In Windows 11 the icons are centered on the bottom of the screen. Then click on Gear icon for settings, then click Check for updates. You can also check the View update history link to see what updates have been run.

Santa checking list

Upgrade applications
Keeping application up–to-date helps insure compatibility with new hardware and operating system components. Many apps will update automatically but it is a good idea to check. This includes apps like Microsoft Office, Adobe, antivirus programs and any other apps you have installed on your system. It is also a good idea to make sure that you have the latest firmware and drivers for your printer(s). Keeping your apps current is an important part of an overall security posture.

Change your passwords
If you can’t remember the last time you changed your passwords it is time to change your passwords. A sophisticated hacker doesn’t break into a system and steal just your password. They steal the entire hash table. Then they can go back to the lab and try every combination of characters until they find a match. Even with a powerful computer that may take months. By the time they have cracked a sufficient number of passwords and return to the system you have changed your password and the hackers get nothing.

Reboot or restart your computer
I am actually guilty of this myself. When I am done working I almost always I just lock the machine and walk away. I almost never restart or power cycle the machine unless something becomes unstable. In the old days users would often lose data when the computer came out of sleep mode. But we have come a long way since then and the power management system of modern systems work great.

Heavily used systems that rely on sleep instead of power cycles should be restarted every once in a while to clear out any junk that may be lingering from a previous sleep session or temporarily cached to a paging or hibernation file. This helps keep your device free of clutter, refresh resources, optimize storage space and keep your computer humming along. And it is one of the easiest maintenance operations you can perform.


And remember — always back it up!



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