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Protecting Your Computer--and Your Manuscript
"Musings" for August 2006
by Margot Finke
If you have written a spellbinding midgrade novel, or a delightful picture book, you need to ensure that it survives on your computer. You have put months (or years?) of writing, research, rewriting and critique sessions into perfecting your literary masterpiece: make sure it doesn't go AWOL.
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How can this happen, you ask? EASILY!
To keep your writing safe, you need to give serious thought, plus
a little time, to protecting your computer. These days, worms are not just bait for catching fish. The kind of viruses that gobble up your data can't be cured with an antibiotic. All writers know that the copyright process offers powerful protection for their writing. Find equally powerful protection for your manuscript while it is still on your computer.
There are 6 major steps that help you protect your writing and your computer:
#1 - Save Your Writing:
Save your writing before your behind leaves the chair. There are a variety of ways to do this. Burn important documents onto a CD. Save them to a floppy disk or an external ZIP drive. You can also save them to another hard drive. Warning: Don't wait until your manuscript is completed before you save it. Save every time you close a file or folder. This will keep all those agonizing tweaks and rewrites absolutely safe.
#2 - Install Great Virus Protection:
There are a variety of excellent virus protection programs available - both free and for a fee.
- Norton AntiVirus comes in a variety of packages - either by itself, or bundled with their other protective programs.
- McAfee offers another well regarded virus protection package.
- AntiVirus Software Reviews Go here to check out the two mentioned above, plus many more.
#3 - Download a Strong Firewall:
The same advice goes for firewalls. Some are free: others come bundled with a platform, such as XP.
- ZoneAlarm is a FREE firewall for private use. It works great. You can also purchase the professional ZoneAlarm. NOTE: Never run 2 firewalls on your computer at the same time - it will cause jam-ups and crashes. Remove the least effective firewall.
- Microsoft XP has a firewall bundled in with the program.
- McAfee also has a personal Firewall
- Shields UP is a good place to go if you want to learn how a firewall works, why you need one, and much more.
- Don't Miss This Site - Firewall Reviews: the skinny on which ones work and which ones don't.
#4 - Add Extras That Can Make All the Difference:
By extras, I mean specific programs you can download. No program can guarantee perfect protection. These extra applications help your computer take care of anything that slips past your firewall or your virus protection. Below are some I can recommend:
- MiniMinder This neat, small program, is a perfect pop-up reminder for all those dates and appointments you don't want to miss. Simple and easy to use. Note: A handy way to remind yourself to run those Extras I mentioned above.
- Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition * Ad-aware is a very comprehensive spyware removal tool. The interface is dramatically improved over earlier versions, and it's remarkably simple to use. It is not perfect, but what is?
- Retrieving Lost Files: If you lose files due to a crash, or accidentally deleting them, there is hope. Deleted or lost files are not immediately wiped from your hard drive. These files are not really gone until your computer has written over them on your hard drive. Try specialized software to retrieve the lost files. Check your Recycle Bin - you might find your deleted files there, though probably not ones from a crash. This is expensive, but if you lose a book. . .? One of these three specialized programs might be able to resurrect those files:
- Computer Cop is DaBomb! Police in a certain town gave out this program that allows parents to track their children's surfing - great eh? It jumped on vulgarity, smutty images and more! But it also pinpointed when dear husbant detoured onto sites where he felt the grass was greener - and younger! Oops!
- PStats is a terrific way to monitor who is landing on your webpages. This counting application does everything but the weather report - and it's FREE! It was recommended to me by a webdesigner who knows her numbers. Below is a list of some of the things this little gem can tell you about those who visit your website:
- Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly visits and hits. Countries visitors are from, web browers & operating systems used, plus best and worst traffic times. Then there's search engines, referrals, urls, and visit duration. I might have missed a few things, but who's counting? If you need a counter on your webpages, I can recommend PStats. No problems plus good service.
- "Gizmo" Richards Tech Support Alert. The site has a large list of
free "how-too's" - Ever Freeware Utilities is great. Worth a look-see.
- PopUp Stopper Buy the professional version, or get the private one free.
- Outlook & Exchange Solutions Center features how-tos, fixes, patches, utilities, and other assistance for people who rely on Microsoft's e-mail and messaging programs.
- Automatic Anti-spyware Programs: Try Webroot's Spy Sweeper, or check out the free anti spyware programs on Kim Komando's Security page.
- MazePath's nifty E-Mail Saver. This program is a treasure. It not only saves the email folders you want saved, it also saves your address book and your favorites. You can set it for automatic or manual.
- Big String.com - This is a FREE e-mail program for private use. If you've rever regretted that hastily sent e-mail to your boss or editor, this program is for you. It allows you to bring back an e-mail AFTER you've sent it, even after it has landed in someone's IN box. You can set your e-mails to disappear after one minute, one hour, one day, or whatever you like - or NOT. It's your choice. The Business e-mail charges a reasonable fee. Cool Beans!!
#5 - Take the Time to Learn How Your Protection Works:
I am willing to bet most of you have firewalls and virus protection installed on your computers. Set your virus protection to automatically update your computer with the latest "fixes." Otherwise, the program soon becomes outdated and useless - Let's face it, relying on our memories to update manually is asking for trouble, with a capital "T." Your firewall and virus protection also works best if you tweak it to suit your particular needs.
#6 - Don't Download "Stuff" Indiscriminately:
Just because it looks cute, or some e-mail or website promises that it will take away all your computing nightmares, does not make a download safe . Learn where you can access reputable advice, and downloads that do not hide nasties that cause you and your computer endless grief. There are safe download sites out there, so ask friends for the URL of sites they know to offer safe downloading and advice, OR check some of the suggestions below.
Kim Komando's website, and her nationally syndicated radio show, offers terrific resources for dummies as well as for geeks. Her advice is always backed up with testing. Check out her great free Newsletters.
- Daily computer and Internet tip.
- Great Web site picks every day.
- News links to stay up-to-date.
PC World Daily Newsletters: Click to sign up for, or unsubscribe from, their newsletters, or to change your newsletter format from text-only to HTML. They offer excellent computer advice, and only recommend applications, hardware and software they have tested.
Download.com is another site I trust.
There are many other helpful programs available on the safe surfing sites I recommended, or on those your friends give you. So, there you have it--6 simple steps that help you make sure your manuscripts, plus anything else of value on your computer, does not become the victim of a worm, a virus, or any other "nasty" the bad guys try to sneak onto your hard drive.
HAPPY WRITING MATES!
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