In today’s world, you probably have at least one computer or mobile device that they use on a regular basis. After all, how are you reading this article right now? These devices may be used for purposes as simple as browsing the web and checking e-mail, but often times, you probably have higher expectations from your computing devices. In order to satisfy these needs, you probably have installed software on your device(s). These software programs can come from a variety of sources:
- Friend sends you a copy of a program
- Download from the Internet
- Purchased at the store
- Download from Apple AppStore (iPhone, iPod Touch)
Regardless of where you get your software from, it’s important for you to know exactly what programs are living on your computer or mobile device. Software that is on your computer — that you don’t know about — could be malicious, and may be gathering information about you that you don’t know about, or don’t want it to. The more programs you have installed on your computer, the more likely it is that a malicious program could slip in “under the radar.” By educating yourself about what’s installed, and controlling that list, you can help ensure your security in a heavily connected world! I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to clean out software from your computer or mobile device, today!
If you’re running Microsoft Windows, you can simply go to the Control Panel, and select Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP) or Uninstall a program (Windows Vista & 7). Go through the list of installed programs, and remove things that you don’t recognize, or don’t use on a regular basis. Here are some example of things you can probably safely remove:
- Internet “toolbars” that get installed for Internet Explorer or Firefox — these claim to be helpful, but generally only serve to worsen your computing experience
- Unwanted advertising programs
- Smiley face add-ons for instant messenger programs (editors note: these are almost always really BAD news!)
- Registry cleaners (there are only a select few legitimate tools like this)
- Software for your old printer or camera (eg. Nikon, Canon, Kodak)
- Anything that emphasizes being “FREE!” — If someone really has to push this, there’s probably a catch
Take a few minutes and clean out your computer today! It will help mitigate security issues, and just might help your computer run faster! If you’re not sure whether or not to remove something, hold off, and ask a tech-savvy friend for help.
Until next time …!