The most often encountered software problems are directly related to the connection with the Internet. Stand-alone off-line computers rarely experience software issues that aren’t a result of a hardware failure. Since the vast majority of computer users are wired into the Internet one way or another, those particular software vulnerabilities will always be exploited, one way or another. The number one threat to the Internet community is contamination of the software or operating system by a virus. Failure to update operating system and application software is simply inviting trouble.
Viruses have pierced the veil – they are vampires and they want your blood. Gone are the days when the user would have to perform an ill-advised action to acquire one. They do not need an invitation any more. A quality anti-virus program is mandatory. There are dozens available, many are inexpensive or have free for home use full-function versions. When shopping for anti-virus software, exercise due diligence. Research the product then use a known-good download provider. The same applies to malware and adware removing software.
A strong firewall is essential. As with anti-virus software, there are several firewalls available. When protecting servers, which are the primary target of opportunity for hackers, it’s especially important to “bullet-proof” the installation. Lately, SQL injection exploits have been crashing servers running eCommerce sites. Engineers qualified to ensure a server is properly protected are not inexpensive. Expect to spend several hundred dollars to have a properly set up server.
Software updates include both the operating system and applications. The software manufacturers are generally reliable to promulgate and propagate patches as soon as the need is identified. This requires very little user intervention except to allow the software to be installed. In cases where the machine is stand-alone or does not have the privileges required, contact the system administrator.
Another issue with windows based computers that crops up often, is the dreaded blue screen of death. The BSOD is the computers way of saying “Ouch. That really hurt!” Then the computer dies gracefully. Interpreting the cryptic and arcane series of numbers and letters on the typical BSOD can lead to an instant headache. Generally, the problem is a dysfunction between a software driver and the associated hardware device. The easiest way to fix a BSOD is to turn off the CPU, remove all but the graphics card, and one memory chip, and one system drive. Boot up and see if it runs. If yes, power down, add another card and restart. Do this until the machine throws a BSOD. The chances are good the last component installed – or its software– is the problem.