T171 - General Help and Advice
It is a good idea to have more than one ISP (Internet Service Provider) installed on your computer since this course is Web based, you need to be able to access the OU T171 Website as this is where the course material is to be found and you also need to access FirstClass for email and conferencing. I found on more than one occasion during the course I could not get on the Net using my primary ISP. I actually have 3 ISP's installed on my PC and can always get a connection via one or other of them. I have Broadband package plus two pay as you go Dial-up ISP's as backup.
Since you will be exposed to viruses on the web it is imperative that you keep your virus checker DAT files updated regularly. Its no good buying a virus checking program then not getting the DAT updates, it is these DAT updates that contain the latest virus signatures which enable the checker to trap the nasty little devils before they have time to wreak havoc with your system. Most viruses are spread by email attachment (not the only way but one you can protect yourself against easily) if you receive an attachment from someone you've never heard of treat it suspiciously, it could be carrying and rather nasty payload, I always delete these whether or not my virus software has found a problem as it just might be a new virus. The email virus types once you open them will read your address book and send and email to everyone in it with an attachment (the virus) and may do your file system some harm. Check your virus software documentation or help file, it should tell you where to go for the updated DATs, another good tip is that if you hear of a software virus scare on the news then your virus software manufacturer has probably put a new DAT on their website for download. If your virus software manufacturer produces a newsletter subscribe to it as it will tell you of new updates, my particular scanner checks the manufacturers site every time I logon for new updates.
A Firewall is a software program that prevents unwanted intrusions into your system i.e. hackers, I feel this is also a must have. A personal firewall is a barrier between your computer and the outside world. It also most vulnerable at its doors, called ports. Without ports no connection to the Internet is possible. A firewall protects your ports by blocking all incoming and outgoing traffic unless you specifically authorise it. If you haven't got one check the PC magazine disks for ZoneAlarm it's free or alternatively you can download it from http://www.zonealarm.com (2.5Mb download approx) it's very easy to set-up.
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