There are four housekeeping functions that require attention on every computer.

1. Antivirus protection

2. Adware/spyware protection

3. Installation of security-related updates

4. Backups

If those functions are performed, you can use a computer to accomplish wonderful creative things. If they are neglected, you will likely end up disgraced and humiliated, possibly bankrupt, maybe the tragic victim of a violent crime.

Some people would add other items to that list. Firewall protection – I consider the built-in firewall in Windows XP/Vista to be adequate. Spam filtering, defragging, parental controls – all potentially useful but you can keep a computer running without them.

There is no solution that fits everyone. There doesn’t need to be. If you have any product from any major vendor in any of those categories and you give it whatever attention it needs, you are adequately covered in that category.

Each of you has acquired different levels of technical expertise and different abilities to maintain programs running on your computers. Each of you has a different tolerance for popup bubbles and update warnings. If there is any generalization, though, based on long experience I assume that most people do not want to pay attention to computer housekeeping chores.

My job is to help match my clients with products that will do those jobs reliably with the least need for me to intervene. Over the next couple of days, I’ll tell you what that means for individuals and small businesses.

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