Best Computer Practices for Online Students


Students attending an online school will need to consider many things in order to keep their computers safe, secure, and running smoothly.


First of all, it’s important to have security software to help keep your computer safe from malware. Malware, short for malicious software, is a type of program that can cause problems by slowing down your computer or running unwanted programs or ads. Computers will sometimes come with a free trial of anti-malware programs (usually referred to as antivirus), such as McAfee or Norton Antivirus. These allow you to upgrade to a full version if you choose. Windows and Mac computers also have built-in security protection that offer firewall protection and other basic security features, but paid antivirus software will offer additional protection against malware. When you are considering which software works best for your protection needs, there are many things to consider: the level of protection needed, the reputation of the product, the features that will be helpful to you, and the price of the software. You can find a useful guide for choosing antivirus software here.

Clearing Cache and Cookies

You may have heard of this phrase, but it’s understandable if you’re not quite sure what it means or why it’s important. These are bits of data that web browsers use to store and save information about you. This can be helpful at times because the browser can remember things saved on web pages and load faster. However, this data can build up over time and cause problems with logging in or loading web pages. The simplest way to clear the cache and cookies for most browsers on a Windows computer is to press Ctrl+Shift+Delete, which opens up a menu that allows you to clear your browsing data. If this doesn’t work with your browser or you aren't using a Windows computer, you can find instructions to clear the cache and cookies for specific web browsers by visiting this helpful site.

It is also possible to clear the cache and cookies every time the browser is closed. You can do this in the browser settings (for some browsers, using Ctrl+Shift+Delete will work; for others, you will need to navigate to the advanced settings to change this option). Using this option is recommended if you do not wish to clear your cache and cookies manually.


Passwords: Disable Features That Automatically Save Passwords

Most browsers will give you the option to save passwords that are entered into websites that require a login, such as your email and Facebook.

Browsers will also allow you to save passwords by default or to remove the option to save passwords. For security purposes, it is recommended that you don’t save passwords automatically if you are visiting sites which store personal information, especially anything concerning finances. In most cases, browsers are set up to ask you if you wish to save a password each time you enter a password on a site. You can change this feature in the browser’s settings, usually found under the auto-fill or password manager section.

Turning the Computer off Periodically

If you are experiencing issues with a computer that is slowing down over time, it can be helpful to turn the computer off periodically to improve its performance. Sometimes programs running in the background will slow down a computer’s performance, and rebooting it will close these programs unless they are set to run on startup by default. Turning off a computer that is not being used often can also preserve its life and save energy. A good rule of thumb is to turn off your computer at least once a month.

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