Secure your second-hand laptop with these tips

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There are many compelling reasons to buy a second-hand, gently used laptop. With a previously owned machine, you can do work or consume entertainment without breaking the bank. You can also gift such a PC to your kids in order to help them get a feel for technology without investing in a new and more expensive computer.

However, it’s critical to secure your second-hand machine before anyone in your family uses it. You don’t know if the previous owner kept the computer secure from malware like viruses, adware, spyware, and other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). Remember, malicious software can slow down any system and breach your security and privacy.

In worst-case scenarios, unsavory people sometimes plant spyware, keyloggers and other malicious software in a system before selling it to unsuspecting buyers. These scary programs can spy on your family and send your confidential data to cybercriminals.

Format the computer

Your best option is to format the PC as soon as you receive it with a third-party utility that completely wipes your storage drive. There’s usually no guaranteed way to eliminate all potential threats from a computer if it hosts some particularly sneaky software designed to evade all detection attempts. Afterwards, install your licensed copy of Windows to start anew.

You can also conveniently download all your manufacturer’s software in the modern age, so you don’t have to worry about permanently losing optimization tools designed specifically for your used PC. For example, if you bought an Alienware laptop, you could download the Alienware Command Center software again from Dell’s website. Likewise, if you have a used HP laptop, you can get the drivers on the official website.

If you bought a refurbished computer from a reliable source that’s been factory reset, then it’s probably safe to use without formatting. However, it’s still important to take some fundamental precautions. You should make sure that your refurbished computer is legitimately activated. You should also examine the list of installed programs through the Control Panel to uninstall bloatware — such free programs usually expire in a hurry, take up resources, and carry malware.

If your refurbished computer slows down for no reason, crashes, throws up adware on your screen, hijacks your browser, or randomly activates your webcam or storage drive, then you should use cybersecurity tools immediately. Alternatively, please give it a fresh start with a factory reset or a format.

Install top cybersecurity software

Cyber experts find tens of thousands of new malware every day. That’s why it’s essential to beef up your PC’s default security software with a sophisticated Windows antivirus software that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to remediate all kinds of malware threats, including emerging ones from your second-hand machine. Only cybersecurity software that uses behavior-based technology rather than just signature-based technology can eliminate emerging threats.

Keep your software updated

To plug security holes, keep your operating system and other essential software updated. The easiest way to do this is to set Windows to update automatically. In addition, keep your firewalls up to secure your network.

Although buying a second-hand computer is usually safe, it’s good to secure it with the right cybersecurity tools and formatting. This way, you can save some money on your new machine without worrying about your security and privacy.


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