Computer Maintenance is your responsibility!

ResNet recommends the following procedures to keep your PC running smoothly.

Due to wide variations in the operational states and configurations of personally owned computers, ResNet cannot take responsibility for compatibility or installation issues with these programs.

This advice only pertains to computers running Microsoft Windows.

Anti-Virus Protection

Purchase and install an anti-virus program

Buy anti-virus software that provides real-time, active protection, which means that it is constantly vigilant in the background, ready to alert you of any virus infection it finds. A sample list of products:

  • Norton/Symantec
  • McAfee
  • PC-cillin
  • Panda
  • Kaspersky
  • Grisoft AVG

Some free anti-virus software is available, but in our experience, most free versions of anti-virus software do not provide active protection, and in that way, its performance is often inferior to commercial anti-virus software. We have also had the same experience with online-scan versions of anti-virus software.

Update the virus definitions regularly

New viruses come out all the time, and your anti-virus software cannot protect against a virus that it doesn't know about. All good anti-virus programs have an automatic update feature, and can search for and download updated virus definitions when the company makes them available. You should also be able to manually check for and install updates.

Renew your subscription every year

You must pay a fee to continue to receive new virus definitions. Normally, when you purchase the full version of an anti-virus program, a 12-month subscription comes along with the package. If anti-virus software was already on your computer when you bought it, it may be a trial version which expires after a short period of time (usually 1-3 months.) Open the program on your computer and check the details to be sure.

Scan your computer regularly

Even if your anti-virus software continually protects in the background, it is a good idea to run a full virus scan periodically. Most anti-virus programs also have auto-scheduling features that will allow you to set the computer to scan for viruses at a specified time.


Anti-Spyware Protection

Preventing Spyware

Windows Defender (for Windows 2000 or XP) Microsoft has made this software available to all Windows 2000 and XP users for free. It monitors your computer and warns you when you might be installing spyware or other unwanted software (referred to as "threats") and can update and run itself automatically. It can also remove the spyware it detects. More info:

Spyware Blaster This program does not remove spyware, but claims to prevent spyware from getting onto your computer in the first place by blocking sofware from known bad sites.
More info:

Removing Spyware

Lavasoft AdAware and SpyBot Search & Destroy

Both programs work on all versions of Windows, and have a built-in update feature. They are both FREE.

More info on SpyBot:
More info on AdAware:


Operating System Maintenance

Windows Update

Microsoft periodically releases critical security patches and system updates. Viruses and worms can exploit security holes in the operating system, so you should make sure you get these updates in order to protect your computer and keep it secure and current.

In Windows XP , open Control Panel and choose the System control panel. Select the Automatic Updates tab. We recommend that you choose the Automatic setting to automatically download & install system updates.

In all cases, and for older versions of Windows, you can update Windows manually by going to

Back Up Important Files

If you had to re-format your computer or your hard drive crashed right now, would you be able to restore your documents, favorite music, treasured photos, or your 35-page thesis which you've been working on all year? Some backup options include:

  • Network Storage Dickinson provides all students with 200MB of network storage space.
  • CD-R or -RW
  • USB Flash Drive
  • External Hard Drive



Use a firewall

Windows XP comes with a built-in firewall that protects your computer from outside traffic trying to get in. Once SP2 (Windows XP Service Pack 2) is installed, the firewall will be turned on automatically. You may also consider a commercial product like ZoneAlarm, McAfee Personal Firewall, or Norton Personal Firewall. Be sure to read the documentation carefully to make sure you have configured your firewall correctly - you may inadvertantly block network traffic that you want! Dickinson does not offer support for any third-party firewall programs, so if you need help, you must contact that software manufacturer.

Note: the student network (ResNet) is behind Dickinson's campus network firewall. However, Dickinson's firewall will not protect your computer from threats originating from computers already on Dickinson's network.