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How To Dominate Your Digital Stuff — Practical Advice For Windows and Android Users

 

Who likes a lagging, hanging, stuttering, locking, flashing, stopping, rebooting, bleeping, skipping computer? I guess that nobody does. 

When one's setup starts to do things that get in the way of the daily workflow, one wants to be the next mass-shooter, in this case of software developers. But when it's the user's negligence and/or greed that make a computer start acting and annoying, it is not fair to throw the blames on the software.

If it takes you a day or more to modify your system, and get the upper hand with it, so be it. Let's wrestle with all the digital entropy that gets in the way and teach the misbehaving devices who is boss.

 

Essentials

Anti Virus

Theoretically, you can run Windows without an anti-virus running in the background. But in practice it is definitely unwise to do it. Especially if you are not well organized. If you open everything and run everything that you download.

I can’t recommend any for desktop at this moment. For Android, I’d recommend Lookout Mobile Security. I used this program since around 2011 and never had a problem with my tablet. If you have one of those almost impossible to remove android rootkits, LMS will be the last nail in the coffin to their demise. More info in this at the end of the article.

Anti Malware

A more sophisticated kind of viruses is the malware. Some of these malicious programs are the software version of the old-fashioned con-man. They will gain your trust slowly sucking you into their engineered victim journey. Sooner or later they're going to do something awful to your system and/or data.

Here is when software comes to the help. Malwarebytes is a good brand for this kind of software. If you don’t want to have anti-malware resources, at least have an anti-virus.

Modern ones aim at handling malware, adware, ransomware, chargeware and every other kind of -ware malicious program.

Dedicated Firewall

Windows firewall isn't enough. If you didn't run a third-party firewall from day one of the installations of Windows, it might be compromised.

Windows's firewall doesn't manage outbound calls. That's enough reason to use a third party solution. If you can find it, I’d recommend PC Tools Firewall Plus 7. It’s old (from 2010), but it serves its purpose. It’s shareware but you can use it with all its features enabled for life. Another is Comodo Personal Firewall, still updated and good as PC Tools Plus.

Some firewalls run on top of Windows firewall. And of course, there's Windows Firewall Control, a free program to at least control the outbound calls, if you don't want to use a third-party one. Using only this as the firewall solution is totally viable. I applaud you if you decide to go the WFC route.

 

KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid

Let's say that you can narrow down your digital stuff to a couple of broad categories.

1. Online Data and Apps/Tools

If you're going online, make up your mind. Make up your mind that whatever happens, you will dominate your online digital environment. Like you did to your offline one when you installed the operating system, and set up the security systems before connecting to internet. Not the other way around.

If you are going to keep it simple, my recommendation is not to get carried away with downloads and installations. You can always have a secondary hard drive for data if that your thing, though. I'd highly recommend to have a secondary internal storage drive. It's useful to backup everything important that one has in the main drive.

To deal with the residues and obsolete entries in the registry that installations leave, get a third-party program uninstaller like Revo Uninstaller.

In this time and age, logins are very important. Get a password manager. With it, you're going to have all your access data to the sites on internet centralized. An excellent one is KeePass.

Whatever the program you use, when you or the program generates it, use 8-9 characters.

It's the number of password letters that will give you the fewer problems in the long run.

The Browser

It's difficult to recommend a browser type since a browser can have:

  • Different architecture
  • Different engine
  • Different settings

The best approach would be starting with half a dozen or more, and then testing them all and settling down for the one that has

1. The smallest RAM cost and/or storage footprint
2. The features that you need or like
3. The snappier, faster, more responsive performance

The Browser's Second Killer-app use: Webmail

Using webmail instead of a dedicated email client may sound modest. Still, using webmail is way more efficient than emailing the old way.

If you don't plan to subscribe to publications, sites and similar, go ahead and install your email client of choice.

But if you plan to manage heaps of incoming email, the better option is webmail. Your hard disks will be grateful for this. There are tons of companies that give webmail for free.

Web apps

I wouldn't keep my personal stuff in web apps. One thing is keeping emails in one of them. One very different is who is in control of your documents when you use cloud applications to create basic ones.

All the original stuff one creates, especially the different kinds of one's own intellectual property, should be kept locally.

Other than to use online applications on the go, I don't see the benefits. More like cons:

  • No easy/automatic physical backup copy (have to use the export feature)
  • They require internet connections
  • An intruder may read private documents or tamper with them

2. Offline Data and Apps/Tools

Tools

Without counting the anti-virus, firewall, and anti-malware, installed right away after installing Windows from a pen drive or similar, you'll need a few more maintenance tools:

1.Third-party fragmentation fixer: don't use the one that comes with Windows
2.Registry cleaner: A good one that isn't destructive, like for instance: Eusing Free
3.Everyday washer: Ccleaner with CCEnhancer installed or Wise Disk Cleaner
4.Maintenance washer: BleachBit, Drive Tidy and/or Puran's Disk Cleaner
5.Integrated Windows decay solver: Advanced SystemCare Pro 11 Portable Version

Organization

Once you have all the tools and applications you need to organize your usage. Commit to a daily overhead limit and don't go over it.

If you work with, say, two different browsers open at the same time, a spreadsheet program, and a text processor then don't load anything else.

If you, for some reason, have to load something extra, stop multitasking. Do whatever you had to do with the extra overhead and close it as soon as you did it.

If you have to sit, say, eight hours stretches doing the heavy opening and closing of programs, do program a reboot.

A reboot does wonders for a computer that begun to lag. Lags that are common after exerting it for hours, or after having extra overhead. A good choice would be, in the middle of the workday, rebooting it. So after four hours. This refreshes the caches and areas of the RAM that not even memory washers, like Wise Memory Optimizer, can ultimately de-lag.

Or you can install sixteen gigabytes of RAM or more and disregard the above paragraphs. In that case, install and open applications and tools to your heart's content.

Security Copies

This maintenance procedure has its own section because a backup makes all the difference. You have to find something that works for you to make automatic copies.

And I don't mean a software downloaded because those don't work. You have to work with Windows's scheduler. Make it periodically run a .BAT file that copies or compresses your valuable files to a secondary storage unit. 7-Zip is a great compressor, or cruncher if you will, to accomplish this.

For Android

The fastest and simplest way to backup Android is connecting the device to a PC by USB and copying everything in a separate folder. There have to be applications that make an image of the system, but I haven’t delved into any of them.

 

Dominate Your Mobile

An area in which you have to be a bit even more careful is your mobile devices. Install things from Google Play only.

If you install a lot of applications on your phone and load it with your data, it may begin to under-perform. In that case is time to clean it.

Superficial Cleaning

There are many cleaners. The best for me is CleanMaster. But the company that makes it receives a lot of hate. If you don’t like the makers of CleanMaster, go for an established brand. Like McAfee Mobile Booster & Cleaner. Superficial cleaning can greatly boost your device.

If superficial cleaning wasn’t enough and your phone still lags look for bundled from factory applications. If you have a lot of those it's time to put them into hibernation.

Deep Cleaning

If there are manufacturer and carrier bloatware in your mobile device you might not want to keep it. In that case, your device needs rooting.

Rooting is a procedure that unlocks system privileges. The procedures that a rooted device is able to perform are dangerous at the level of the operating system. That’s why root accounts come locked from the factory. Rooting requires mid to advanced technological knowledge. Even with programs that supposedly do 95% of the rooting procedure automatically.

I say supposedly because there is malware disguised as rooting programs. You have to be extra careful with rooting applications. I got Kingroot and Kinguser in two different devices and to this day I wasn’t able to eradicate them. Not even resetting Android to factory settings (wiping everything), I could take them out. Kingroot was the worst. It crashed my applications. But its worst act were its own crashes. To be reading a book and be taken out of focus by a window saying that Kingroot had stopped working was terrible.

Since I couldn’t uninstall it, not even resetting to factory settings I had to deal with it in another way. I had to use Debloater. The only application of its type for Android. It lets you block applications. The effect of DeBloater on Kingroot was great. When I deactivated Kingroot with it, I never had any more problems.

I practically forgot that a rootkit is still there. I achieved the same total silencing of Kinguser in the other device with a combination of Debloater and with the antivirus/firewall Lookout Mobile Security that I named at the start of this article. Additionally, you can use DeBloater to kill all those annoying bundled applications you never used and never will. It lets you either block them or completely uninstall them. It’s not an efficient or well-designed program and you need to know what you are doing. It’s slow and counter-intuitive, but for those without a rooted device, it’s a must-have.

 

© 2018 Wensley Evolo
Photo Credit: B Dungeon

 

 

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