Home Computer Tips

From Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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On this page you will find tips we recommend to keep your home computer and network in the best shape possible.

Operating System Updates[edit]

In order to connect to campus services such as Remote Desktop, VPN, and Skype for Business, having the latest updates is essential.

Windows 10[edit]

Please verify Windows is up to date by running Windows Update. You can find Windows Update by clicking the Settings gear icon in the Start menu. In Settings, click "Update & Security" (the last icon) to get to Windows Update. If this screen says "Checking for Updates," please wait while your computer checks for updates. If it says "Updates available," your computer is currently installing updates. If it says "You're up to date," manually check for updates by click the "Check for updates" button. Keep checking for updates until Windows Update doesn't install any updates when you click the "Check for updates" button. After installing updates, Windows Update may ask you to restart your computer. Restart your computer when prompted, then open Windows Update and check for updates again.

Windows 7[edit]

Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft. You can still download any old updates that have not been applied yet, but there will be no new updates. In the Start menu, click Control Panel, then click "Windows Update" and download and install all updates. You may need to check Windows Update multiple times to ensure all updates are applied. You can update to Windows 10 for free. You can download Windows 10 by going to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10


For instructions to update macOS, please visit Apple's support website. Please note that these instructions will only update your current version of macOS.

To upgrade to the latest version of macOS (macOS Catalina), open the App Store and search "Catalina." The first result should be "macOS Catalina." Installing this will upgrade your computer to the latest version of macOS

Virus Scanning[edit]

Windows 10[edit]

  • We recommended the built in Windows Defender. This is not intrusive and is rated the best at finding viruses.
  • Uninstall any other virus scanning software so that Windows Defender will work its best. Sometimes trial versions of McAffee, Sophos, Norton, and others get installed. Uninstall them too.

Windows 7[edit]

  • There is no pre-installed Virus scanner. Microsoft offers Microsoft Security Essentials for free. This is the recommended software to install. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=5201
  • Uninstall any other virus scanning software so that Windows Security Essentials will work its best. Sometimes trial versions of McAffee, Sophos, Norton, and others get installed. Uninstall them too.


We do not currently advise installing a virus scanner on macOS. If you prefer to have one, we recommended Sophos.

Video Conferencing[edit]

  • If you plan on doing video conferencing, it is highly recommended to use an ethernet (cable) connection instead of wireless. This will not interfere with other wireless devices especially streaming TVs and Rokus.

Unused Software[edit]

  • You should uninstall any software that you do not use on the computer. Especially any toolbars or plugins such as Yahoo or Avast Search plugins, Coupon Printers, and the like. These cause browsers to run slower and are vectors for viruses to come in.


Wireless Router[edit]

  • DANGEROUS This can be a dangerous operation. Only do this if you feel comfortable
  • You should ensure your wireless router has the latest firmware installed for maximum reliability and security.
  • If you purchased your own wireless router (non-Comcast and ATT) you can usually get to the admin interface by going to or from your home computer.
  • The username and password could be the default username/password. The default will usually be admin/admin, admin/password. If not those, you can search google for the default username/password. You might have set a username/password when you setup your wireless router.
  • If there is an update feature in the admin section, apply any updates. If you have to download manually, you can go to the manufacturer's website and download the firmware file manually.

Cell Phone Personal Hot Spot[edit]

  • Many cell phones support a personal hot spot. In this mode, you can enable a wifi hotspot on your phone. Your laptop can connect to this hotspot. Then your laptop can use your cell phone data plan for internet access.
  • This is helpful for emergency situations.
  • Sometimes you need your cell phone company to enable this feature.