Do you expect the world from your computer but treat it like dirt? I know you do; I’ve seen your computer. You leave it on day in, day out, unpatched, without so much as a simple software firewall – a virtual welcome-mat for viruses and spyware.

Then, your computer fails you when you need it most, so you curse at it, maybe even give it a good kick – but it does you no good. Do you know what the problem is? Your computer is not broken, it just doesn’t like you.

As a Residential Computer Consultant, I’ve seen all there is to see when it comes to computer abuse, from simply neglecting to protect it from the dangers of the Internet, to installing intrusive spyware such as Real Player, Kazaa or almost any other p2p program, to using a steak knife to open your CD reader. I’m baffled by the magnitude of students who have been disconnected from ResNet because they have a virus on their computer. Whether it be a Trojan that came piggy-backing on another piece of software or a worm that came through the mail, whatever the source, it’s really easy to prevent infection by these little bugs. It’s time for spring cleaning; here are a few things you can do to earn your computer’s respect.

First and most importantly, run anti-virus software. Use McAfee, Norton, AVG or whatever. Utilize protection. If you can’t afford to buy it, AVG has a free version, and ResNet even provides a student copy of Norton for any student who lives in UC-owned housing. You can pick it up in our office. Prevention is the best medicine. It’s not enough to have the software, though; you have to keep it updated. New viruses are created everyday and Microsoft finds new holes in Windows almost as frequently. All anti-virus software has some kind of an auto-update utility, you just have to hunt around for it.

You need to keep Windows itself updated too. You can have this happen automatically by right clicking on “My Computer,” go to the Properties “Automatic Updates” tab and set it up to automatically check for and install updates on a daily basis. Do it at a time when you don’t normally need to use your computer. Do an automatic daily scan for viruses too.

If you are in need of help with your computer, you can place a work order with ResNet, and one of my colleagues or I will either call you or stop by your room to look at your computer. Try to fix it yourself first, it will save time for everyone. If your computer is in a coma or if it’s having recurring problems, you can bring it over to the Santa Rosa Classroom between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, for a free spring cleaning by a ResNet staff member.

So next time your computer acts like it’s on crack, take a chill pill; disconnect from the network, scan for viruses, uninstall all of the junk you don’t need, reconnect and update, update, update!

Zachary Carter is a freshman computer science major.