Spring Cleaning: Make your computer safer in two easy steps
April 10, 2018
Phil Johnson
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Image: Phil Johnson

Be sure to sure read our earlier Spring Cleaning article: Tech recycling starts at the Property Office.

As you tidy up your technology during spring cleaning, don’t forget the insides of your computer! Running anti-virus software will help to protect your data, files, and personal information while regularly backing up your device will provide insurance in case something unfortunate happens to it. If you are not already running such software, IS&T provides free options to all MIT community members.

Stop, block, and remove viruses

IS&T strongly recommends that everyone at MIT run anti-virus software. If you already are, great! Keep doing so. However, if you don’t currently have any anti-virus software installed on your computer, IS&T offers Sophos for free to all MIT students, faculty, staff, and affiliates.

Sophos is a digital threat screening and cleaning program based on a state-of-the-art big data analytics system. It scans files on your computer for viruses, malware, and ransomware, including new variants. Sophos not only blocks suspicious downloads, but warns you of existing threats.

Sophos runs on both Windows and Mac computers (and, yes, there are viruses that target Apple devices). It won’t send you frequent notifications or reminders; it only prompts you to take action when a threat is found. With one click, you can clean up all the viruses it’s detected.

MIT community members can download Sophos from the IS&T software grid for no charge.

Back up your hard drive

While you’re giving your computer a security check-up this spring, don’t forget about backing it up regularly! You never know when your computer will die or go missing. If and when that ever happens, you’ll wish you had made a backup to make recovering your data and files easier.

As with anti-virus software, if you’re already backing up your computer regularly, great! Keep up backing up your device. If you’re not, however, IS&T offers CrashPlan, a cloud-based backup service to all MIT community members for free.

CrashPlan safely stores a backup of your personal files. Your data is encrypted at MIT before being sent to CrashPlan’s cloud servers. It also automatically updates your backup with every edit you make.

If your computer is unexpectedly wiped, lost, or damaged, you can download CrashPlan’s copy of your documents to a new computer. You can also restore files from a previous backup to recover files that are now inaccessible. This feature is especially helpful in the event of a ransomware attack.

To ensure that all the files you wish to preserve are included in the backup, consult CrashPlan’s “Changing The File Selection” page. IS&T’s Knowledge Base (KB) also has a helpful CrashPlan FAQ.

MIT community members can download CrashPlan from the IS&T software grid for no charge.

If you have questions about anti-virus software or backing up your computer, contact the IS&T Service Desk including installation of Sophos and CrashPlan on computers you use at work or at home.