If your computer is accessible to others, use a screensaver that requires a password to cancel, and shut it down when it is not in use or secure it with a system password.
Backup all your personal files daily. Important data should be backed up every time it is saved. If you have backups, a system failure is a nuisance; if you do not have backups, it will be a catastrophe.
- Install and use backup software. You may download free backup software, purchase backup software, or use backup protection offered by your Internet service provider.
- External hard drives are relatively inexpensive; use one to easily store backups.
- To protect against fire, flood, etc. damage at your home that may damage your system and your backups, also use an off-site backup service.
- Destroy unused backup information.
When you delete a file on a drive, the file is not actually deleted. The operating system merely makes the space where the file is located available so other data may be saved there. Until the space is overwritten, the file may be recovered using some readily available programs. To permanently delete an important file, use a file shredding program that overwrites the file with 1’s and 0’s many times, thus making the file unrecoverable. If you are getting rid of a computer, you may also use a file shredder to completely erase all data from the drives so evildoers cannot recover the data.