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Factors Influencing Computer Management

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image CHAPTER OVERVIEW

Unit 5.1 Factors influencing computer management

image Learning outcomes

At the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • discusscomputer management issues.
  • recommend management tasks for general housekeeping, maintaining data integrity and protecting the system

INTRODUCTION

In this chapter you will learn about several different computer management tasks. These tasks include clearing up storage space, updating software, and increasing the capability of your computer by installing new software and hardware. You will also learn how to change the key settings of your computer.

COMPUTER MANAGEMENT IN A NUTSHELL

Computer management is a process of managing, monitoring and optimising your computer’s functionality to best serve your needs. This process could include improving and maintaining the security features, performance, and reliability of your computer.

The key tasks that you can do to ensure your computer remains fast, reliable and secure include the following:

  • managing your desktop
  • managing files and folders by:
    • freeing up storage space
    • compressing files and folders
    • updating your software
    • backing up your files
    • scanning for viruses and malware
    • checking your hard disks.

Remember that to keep your computer running effectively, you need to ensure that you have enough free storage space available. If not, you might not be able to create new files or install new programs.

The majority of programs also automatically create temporary files and folders when you run them. Without enough free space, these programs cannot create the temporary files they need, and this will cause the files to crash or display error messages. The operating system uses some of your hard drive space as virtual memory. This will allow the operating system to operate more smoothly – so without any free space, your computer will slow down noticeably.

Activity 5.1 Revision Activity

5.1.1Define backup and explain its importance.

5.1.2What two methods can you use to create a backup?

5.1.3List the eight steps to perform a backup.

5.1.4Define malware and explain how it harms your computer.

5.1.5List the four steps to scan for viruses or malware.

5.1.6Why should you update your software?

UNIT
5.1 Factors influencing computer management

A computer’s speed, ease of use and security are influenced by various factors.
The five most important factors are:

  • software
  • security
  • housekeeping
  • amount of unused space on the hard drive
  • errors and corrupt files

SOFTWARE

Software refers to computer Instructions in the form of operating systems, utilities, programs, and applications that enable computers to work.

Software affects a computer’s performance in different ways:

  • installing too many applications may use up a computer’s resources and cause the computer to slow down,
  • out-of-date software may contain bugs or security problems
  • viruses are also a form of software and are often installed with other software applications.

The most important software task you should complete is to regularly update your software. (An update is new, improved, or fixed software, which replaces older versions of the same software.)

Most applications follow one of three update strategies. They:

  • Ask you to allow them to update automatically: Whenever your computer asks to update a program, allow it to update as soon as possible. If it is not possible to install the update immediately, schedule a suitable time to install the update.
  • The application informs you that an update is available and links you to the update location.
  • This will update the program to the newest version without changing your settings.
  • The applcation can reates patches but does not inform you. If this occurs, then search the internet once or twice a year to see if a new version has been released. If it has, download this version and install it to update your software.
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Figure 5.1: Microsoft Windows automatically installs updates

Today, most computer programmers continue to release patches and updates to their software after the software is released. Software patches and updates generally repair security holes, fix or remove computer bugs and add new features and improve existing ones.

SECURITY

Computer security is the protection of computer systems and information from harm, theft, and unauthorized use. Closely linked to a computer’s software is the security of the computer. As you learned in Grade 10 and 11, weak security can result in files being accessed illegally, and viruses being installed leading to reduced computer performance. As such, a computer’s security must be managed.

When it comes to computer security, there are two main goals: Prevent any malicious software from affecting your computer by using antivirus software, and backup your files so that they are safe, even if your computer is damaged in some way.

In this section, you will look at these tasks:
Firewall: A firewall is a network utility that prevents unauthorised network connections to and from your computer. This means that only the applications you allow on your computing device can send or receive data from and to the internet.

Antivirus: An Antivirus is a software programme that is designed to prevent, search, detect and remove malicious software (Malware) from your computing device.Spyware: Spyware is a piece of code that hides on your computer and tracks all your activity without your knowledge. You can control the Spyware, by activating the pop-up blocker on your browser settings or by installing an anti-spyware software application.

Adware: Adware is a type of malware that presents unwanted advertisements to the user of a computer in the form of pop-up or an ‘unclosable window’.

BACK UP DATA

Data backup is a process of duplicating data and storing it in an alternative location to allow retrieval of the duplicate set after a data loss event (natural disaster, theft situation, accidental deletion).

Data loss can occur due to:

  • hardware failure
  • many potential threats to your data (like viruses and Trojans don’t just steal your data. In some cases, they erase it)
  • the threat of ransomware (when a hacker puts a virus on your computer that encrypts your data, making it useless).

Backing your data up is the single best way to protect your data. With an up to date backup, any data that you lose can be recovered easily.

To make sure your backup is effective, you should use the following guidelines when creating a backup system. The backup:

  • must include all important files and folders.
  • should be run regularly, preferably every day, but at least once a week.
  • must be saved on a different storage device from the data it is backing up.
  • should be saved on a storage device that is not permanently connected to your computer.
  • should be kept in a safe place to protect it from physical damage.
  • data should be verified occasionally to make sure the backup system is still working.

There are three main techniques you can use to create a backup:

  • Copy and paste (select files and folders you would like to backup, copy them using the copy command and paste In a folder on an external hard drive),
  • Backup and Restore Software: (This utility can be used to automatically backup your data to an external hard drive by simply updating changes to the relevant files that were backed-up previously). and
  • Online backup (back files up online using a service like Google Drive).

HOUSEKEEPING

This refers to the way in which a computer and its files and folders are organised so that they are quick and easy to find. General housekeeping tasks include:

DISK CLEAN-UP

Disk clean-up is a computer maintenance utility designed to free-up storage space on a computing device. It identifies and removes temporary files that are no longer needed and cleans out old files, programs and settings that cause your computer to slow down. Defragmentation of the hard disk also improves the speed at which the files are accessed.

SCHEDULING AND UPDATING

You can use a task scheduler to create and manage common tasks that your computer will carry out automatically at a time you specify, for example, you can schedule your computer to run a software update or make a backup at a specific time.

ARCHIVE AND BACKING-UP

Archiving is the process of moving data that is no longer actively used to a separate storage device for long-term retention. These files are, however, not duplicated. Archived data consists of old data that remains important and is retained for future reference.

A back-up is the process of making copies/duplicates of data and storing it on a different device in a different geographical location in the event of the original data being lost or destroyed.

COMPRESSION AND DECOMPRESSION

File compression refers to the process that makes use of advanced algorithms and mathematical formulas to decrease the amount of disc space used by big files. Decompressing a file is the method of extracting the compressed file back to its original form using the same algorithms or mathematical formulas.

INSTALLING AND UNINSTALLING SOFTWARE

All installed applications used on your computing device are managed by the operating system. These applications may be used to view images, play videos or run tasks on your computing device. There are different ways of installing software. Examples include custom and default installations.

  • A custom installation will allow you to see and select parts of the software you want to install.
  • A full installation will select all parts of the software and install it on your computing device.
  • Product keys and activation codes: Some applications may give you a unique product key or activation code once you purchase the application. The installer will then request this product key before allowing you to install the application.
ORGANISING YOUR FILES

Organising your files refers to the planned system that you use when you save your files on your computer (stand alone computer or network drive). Well organised saving of files will allow you quick and easy access to them, avoid duplication and ensure that your data can be backed up.

To organise your files:

1.Decide on a logical folder structure that can be used to organise your files and a naming convention.

2.Move existing files to the appropriate location within this folder structure.

3.Save any new files in the appropriate location within this folder structure.

4.Occasionally, check your hard drive to ensure that your new files have not become disorganised.

AMOUNT OF UNUSED SPACE ON THE HARD DRIVE

Computers need sufficient unused space on the hard drive In order to operate smoothly. Free space on your drive is required because certain programs/ applications create temporary files whilst in use and the computer system requires hard disk space to supplement RAM (virtual memory). To free up space on a drive, there are a few things you can do:

  • use the disk clean-up tool
  • uninstall unused software.
  • empty the recycle bin
  • compress data not frequently used.

ERRORS AND CORRUPT FILES

Errors and corrupted computer files are files have been damaged or saved incorrectly and can’t be opened in the normal way.

Files with errors and corrupt files are difficult to detect and they can cause everything from videos not loading to applications crashing, or even your operating system not opening.

Regularly scanning for files with errors or corruptfiles using an appropriate utility (e.g. SMART scan or Disk Check) will warn you before errors become a problem.

image Activity 5.1

5.1.1Choose a term/concept from COLUMN B that matches a description in COLUMN A. Write only the letter next to the question number (e.g. 1–A). There can be more than one answer (column B) to a question (column A).

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5.1.8 List the management tasks for general housekeeping. Which tasks do you use on your computer or school computer? Which task do you think is the most important? Explain.

5.1.9 List steps that can be followed to guide a friend on how to go about creating a well organised fling system.

CONSOLIDATION ACTIVITY Chapter 5: Computer management

1.Choose a term/concept from COLUMN B that matches a description in COLUMN A. Write only the letter next to the question number (e.g. 1.1–A). There can be more than one answer (column B) to a question (column A).

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2.Choose the answer and write TRUE or FALSE next to the question number. Correct the statement if it is FALSE. Change the underlined word(s) to make the statement TRUE. (You may not simply use the word ‘NOT’ to change the statement.)

a.To make sure that your computer is protected against viruses, you should install more than one virus scanner.

b.The two biggest ways to pick-up malware is by installing applications without reading all the instructions carefully and by inserting other people’s flash disks into your computer.

c.You should clean your computer more regularly during the rainy season as they become especially dirty during this period.

d.Manually backing up your data is the best and easiest way to make sure that your data is safe.

e.The best file organisation strategy is to make sure that files are always saved in the correct location the first time.

f.It is important that you also organise files within an application’s folder.

g.You can always recover a file that has been permanently deleted.

h.To regularly uninstall used applications will free up disk space as well as memory and decrease Internet use.

i.While you can uninstall applications to free some disk space, you should not wait until you run out of storage space to uninstall applications.

j.It is very important to run a Disk Clean-up and SMART scan if you are struggling to open files, if your hard drives take a long time to load, or if your hard drives are making clicking noises.

3.Do the following on a computer under instruction and supervision of your teacher.

a.Update software

b.Scan for viruses

c.Physically clean the computer

d.Back up the data on the computer using copy and paste.

e.Back up the data using Backup and Restore

f.Manually back up files on Google Drive

g.Automatically back up files to Google Drive

h.Organise your files

i.Free disk space by using the Disk Clean-up tool

j.Manually delete files

k.Uninstall unused programs

l.Run a SMART scan

m.Run a disk check

4.What is the difference between installing software and uninstalling software?

5.Give FOUR reasons for uninstalling a program.

6.Name THREE programs you have installed on one of your computing devices and give a reason for each of your answers.

7.Mention ONE negative experience you have had because of installing a piece of software. In addition, mention why you think this happened.

8.Do the following tasks on your computer (Ask your teacher for a suitable application to practice with):

Install new software onto your computer.

Uninstall software from your computer.

9.Which of the following is NOT a good reason to delete a file:

a.It is large.

b.It is redundant.

c.It is not needed.

d.It is infected with a virus.

10.Which of the following programs can be uninstalled if your computer’s hard drive is full:

a.The operating system

b.Pre-installed software

c.Antiviruses

d.Applications you installed

11.If software on your computer stops working properly, which of the following could fix it:

a.Uninstalling the program

b.Updating the program

c.Defragmenting the hard drive

d.Installing a driver

12.Which of the following is NOT a technique that can be used to backup data:

a.Using Windows Backup

b.Copying files to a memory card

c.Using Cloud storage

d.Moving files to an external hard drive

13.When Philip connected his new keyboard to his laptop, it did not want to work. What do you think the problem is?

a.He needs to install its drivers manually.

b.He needs to free up space on his computer.

c.He needs to change his system settings.

d.He needs to scan it with his antivirus.