Auditing Your SoftwareAuditing Your Software

It is interesting to note how rarely computer users are completely aware of everything that is on their machine. There was a time when this was not the case. When hard drives could only store well under a gig's worth of information and memory was in the measured in the thousands of bits instead of the millions, most users could account for the vast majority of their programs and files. However, now that drive space measures in the hundreds of gigs and memory has increased a hundredfold in the past decade+, the act of 'download and forget' has taken hold. Most users could wander through their C drive and find a number of programs and files that they have absolutely no recollection of adding.

Why does it matter? Auditing one's own personal computing device does serve a variety of benefits. Some of these benefits are not as important as they were five or ten years ago, others are actually magnified in importance today. Most of the past benefits were seen in the area of performance issues. For instance, auditing a computer was a necessity in the past in order to clear space for the newer more likely to be used programs. When some high performing programs take up 30-40 megabytes on their own (more if they include large databases), then we are talking about close to 25% of a 1995ish hard drive. It also used to beneficial to clear unused programs in order to improve the overall performance of one's machine. It is no secret that programs acting in the background slow a machine down, and if that machine only has around 250 MB worth of memory, it was pointless to have a program taking up space if it was not going to be used. Computers with less activity occurring in the background were more likely to process faster and have less chance of locking up. Nowadays, these issues are not as major as most computers come with so much hard drive space that only the most frequent users are in danger of overfilling them with programs (music and pictures are still a threat, however).

On the flip side, there are reasons today that make auditing one's own files and programs more important than ever. Malware, spyware, and viruses have found all kinds of ways to imbed themselves onto your machine without being noticed. If a user spends any time on the internet and has not run a virus or malware checker in over a year, odds are pretty good that they have some program lurking in the background that they are not aware of. It is critical that users frequently run scans and look through their software programs themselves. If a user finds a program that they do not remember downloading or cannot seem to fathom a use for, he/she should do some research to determine exactly what it is. If it is harmless, they can keep or discard it. If it is malicious, odds are somebody else has encountered it first and has an idea of how to fix it.

When it comes to optimal and safest computer use, the key is to be aware.
by Felix Chesterfield
References and Bibliography
Information from: Wikipedia Audit Apex Analytix Deloitte
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