Keeping your Windows PC/Laptop Safe

Keeping your Windows PC/Laptop Safe

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This is part of a series of posts about staying safe online, see our online safety basics here: Online Safety – The Basics. We also have about Keeping Children Safe Online.

If you use your PC or laptop to get online you should take some basic steps to keep you, your computer, your data and your browsing safe and secure. If you have ever had to deal with a computer failure or virus you know how time consuming it can be to sort out. If you have never had to deal with this you’ll have a much better chance of keeping your PC secure if you follow these tips.


We tend to forget just how much data we store on our computers and how devastating and frustrating it can be if you lose it. Do you have years of holiday photos on your computer?. Or maybe that book you have spent five years writing? Without backups these could be lost forever. There are two types of backups, local, where you keep a copy on an external hard drive or USB stick, or cloud storage. The cloud basically means the data is stored on another computer or server somewhere else.

Local Backup, consider buying an external hard disc or USB stick to keep your important data on. Decide what files you really want to keep and copy these to the External Hard disc or USB. Remember to do this on a regular basis. Luckily there are ways of getting Windows to do this for you, see this guide for Windows 10:

And this guide for Windows 7:

Local backups are a great idea and help out if you have an issue with your computer or laptop it isn’t a perfect solution. For instance a burglary or house fire could mean you lose both your PC/laptop and your backups, so consider adding cloud storage as well.

Many organisations offer cloud storage and you probably already have access to a free one, depending on who your email provider is. For instance Microsoft offer OneDrive (, so if you have an MSN or Hotmail email address you should already have a OneDrive account. The same goes for Google and its Google Drive cloud storage ( for those with Gmail accounts.

The storage space on these free versions is not as much as you can put on an external Hard disc or USB stick as it is limited to 5gb for OneDrive and 15gb for Google Drive. However this should be enough to store all of your important data.

See this guide to making backups to OneDrive:

And this guide for Google Drive:


It is important to keep Windows up to date, Microsoft release security updates to ensure the operating system works smoothly and is secure. Ensure your computer is up to date, or even better, enable automatic updates.

Microsoft have a guide that shows you how to automatically update Windows 10, 8.1 and 7. Simply select your operating system from the drop-down box and follow the instructions on this page:

Install AntiVirus Software

If you don’t yet have any virus protection on your computer we highly recommend installing one now. This should stop your computer getting infected and possibly stealing your information and locking your computer. There is a vast number of AntiVirus solutions out there, some paid and others that are free. Instead of going through the pros and cons of each we will just show you one, Windows Defender from Microsoft, which is designed to work in the background, so works automatically.

See this guide for how to check if you are using Windows Defender already and how to use it if you are not:

It is important to ensure you only have one AntiVirus solution running on your computer if you don’t know if you already have one simply visit one of our free sessions, where a Digital Champion will be happy to help. See our list of sessions here.

Software and Apps

There is a vast array of software available for Windows computers, laptops and tablets but it is important to be selective when downloading them. Don’t open attachments you aren’t sure are OK; attachments are one of the most common ways that malware spreads. Be careful with “free” software, check it out first. Many “free” packages are so because they come loaded with spyware, adware, and worse.
When visiting a website, did you get a pop-up asking if it’s OK to install some software that you’ve never heard of it? Don’t say OK.
Not sure about some security warning you’ve been given? Don’t ignore it. Research it before doing anything.

If you need any help or more information just pop along to one of our free sessions, where a Digital Champion will be happy to discuss any issues you have and help you keep yourself, your data and your computer safe. See our list of sessions here.

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