Holiday Season maintenance for Family and Friends

The holiday season is quickly approaching – during which, many of us will visit (or be visited by) family and friends. If you’re employed in any role that involves using a computer you will no doubt be bombarded with technical questions over the silly season.

This is just a few simple tasks I’ve put together to help family and friends have a better computing experience and be more secure – and possibly save you from having to remove the same junkware from their machine again next holidays.

Windows

  • Remove the junk: AdwCleaner seams to clean up most of the rubbish that users manage to install. It is offered for free by Malwarebytes.
  • Run Disk-Cleanup: If it hasn’t been done for a while, it will free up quite a bit of disk space.
  • Ensure operating system is up to date: No doubt there will be many friends or family members saying their computer “isn’t going to work” after January. Time to upgrade to Windows 10. If Windows 10 is out of their price range check out Ubuntu (Or Lubuntu for older hardware).
  • Install Google Chrome (If you are Privacy conscious maybe look at Mozilla Firefox).
  • Install uBlock Origin & HTTPS Everywhere
  • Modify the HOSTS file using the HOST file from someonewhocares: It might break the advertising links at the top of a Google search if this is going to be a problem.
  • Ensure AV is up to date: Use a paid AV if possible (I recommend ESET) If paid is not possible ensure Windows Defender is enabled on Windows 10.
  • Create a new Administrator account: and set the main user as a Standard user. Don’t keep the password to yourself, otherwise you will get many phone calls from your family and friends every time they need to change a setting. Running as a standard users prevents malware or other nasties from running as administrator as they stealthily try to execute in the background.

MacOS

  • Install latest patches for macOS: If device is too old and slow (or running an unsupported OS) consider installing Lubuntu.
  • Install Google Chrome (If you are Privacy conscious maybe look at Mozilla Firefox).
  • Install uBlock Origin & HTTPS Everywhere
  • Create a new Administrator account: and set the main user as a Standard user. Don’t keep the password to yourself, otherwise you will get many phone calls from your family and friends every time they need to change a setting. Running as a standard users prevents malware or other nasties from running as administrator as they stealthily try to execute in the background.
  • If using a Mac ensure the inbuilt firewall is enabled.

iOS

Turn on Passcode or Face ID: Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (Face ID & Passcode) > Turn Passcode On.

Turn on Automatic Updates for iOS: Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates = On.

Android

Passwords

Talk about Passwords: Yes Passwords suck, but sucky passwords suck more. Teach them about diceware. Need a gift idea? Buy a family member a diceware password. Help to setup a password manager. KeePassXC works well, and I have had many clients find 1Password nice and easy to use.

Help configure 2FA – You probably don’t want to setup up all their accounts with 2FA but perhaps start with important things like email and banking. If you have a tech savvy friend or family member perhaps a YubiKey would be a good gift.

If I have missed anything feel free to let me know and I’ll add it!