CS5: Computer Laboratory Care and Maintenance

This unit explains Computer Laboratory Care and Maintenance

Computer Literacy

Computer literacy can be defined from two vantage points, each of which is informed by a dynamic mixture of skills that are needed to access and manipulate digitally encoded information. For an individual, it simply means being able to use the computer as a means to an end. A person who uses a vehicle to get from point a to point b must know how to drive, have a basic understanding of the need for automobile maintenance (such as having the oil changed), and demonstrate knowledge of the rules of the road.

That person does not need any in-depth knowledge of how a car functions. In a similar fashion, attaining competence in using computers to perform personal or vocational tasks is the most rudimentary form of computer literacy. It is not essential that computer users know how the machine does what it does, although such knowledge might provide motivation for more sophisticated or increasingly efficient use or serve as a foundation for understanding how computers function in the social order.

Hence, computer literacy can also be defined as one element of information literacy and as a collective concept that includes a grasp of the economic, social, and political consequences of widespread computer use.

Computers receive information as input by human beings. They then store, process, retrieve, and provide results in the form of displayed or printed output. All computer operations transpire in accordance with instructions that are written by human beings. At the most basic level, computer literacy means having the aptitude to manipulate these sets of instructions—rendered as programs or applications—to tell computers to process digital data in ways that serve human ends.

Mastery of a word-processing program affords one the ability to create, edit, format, display, or print a document in record time. Computer literacy enables a person to exploit the computer’s capacity for calculation and representation through use of spreadsheet and database applications. Computer literacy is critical for easy and immediate sorting, management, and association of a mixture of information that can be used for financial or inventory purposes. In their role as communication tools, computers serve to transfer information through programs that shift information from computer to computer, allowing it to be displayed as text or in graphic form. The concept can also include knowing how to connect to storehouses of information to satisfy curiosity or be entertained.

A person who is computer literate should be able to use computers to perform a few tasks such as writing letters or reports, calculating and comparing numbers or objects, or communicating via connections that support e-mail or (perhaps) a web-page, as personal, business, or educational circumstances require.

A modest definition of individual computer literacy turns, therefore, on knowing how to use computers to personal advantage. It means using computers to do what they do best—storing, accessing, and repetitively and rapidly processing massive quantities of data for human interpretation, which adds value that turns data into information. The definition might include knowing how to connect to storehouses of information to satisfy curiosity or be entertained.

Computer literacy is not corroborated through a tidy checklist that enumerates how many and which functions an individual can complete using the tool. It occurs in the intersection of knowing how to do or find what one needs or wants in a particular place, at a particular time, for particular reasons.

Similar to the driver’s understanding of the need for basic car maintenance, a rudimentary definition of computer literacy would also include awareness of the basic elements of, and forces associated with, this machine. The coincidence of computer use and connectivity have brought about a changed atmosphere wherein users, regardless of their level of know-how, are aware that terms such as “hardware,” “byte,” “monitor,” “modem,” “bandwidth,” “virus,” and “protocol” have distinct meanings.

Even if a user does not fully understand all of the vocabulary that comes with computer use, these words permeate public consciousness and emphasize a presumed need for computer literacy. Fundamental understanding of computer capabilities and configuration in networks suggests an expanded definition of computer literacy that recognizes the effect that computers have had on society. The notion of computer literacy thus grows to include access to means of improving one’s computer skills through education or additional experience.

The importance of computer literacy today

Computer literacy is an absolute requirement if you’re operating your home based company prospect. An increasing number of entrepreneurs are recognizing the significance of getting computer skills to improve their business prospects.

Since the mind of your home business enterprise, you will need to be familiar with personal computer skills that are operating. This can allow you to communicate with staff members and your customers.

You have to have the fundamental skills such as using the working and web applications like PowerPoint, Word and Excel.

Before studying how to send attachments, some folks get into businesses. The fantastic news is a few of these have managed to be successful in learning a new skill with hard work and dedication. Nobody can deny the benefits of becoming computer literate. You’ll discover that every component of your business is related with pc.

Let’s find out if you’re a computer literate small business proprietor, how you are placed.

Analyzing info: Having pc knowledge will enable you to be an educated and smart decision maker. You’ll have the ability to assess the data. It can allow you to take plan of action. You may succeed in making small business analysis using computer skills. Computer skills will provide you a chance to determine exactly what’s currently lacking on your business letting you take corrective steps.

Forecasting applications: By obtaining computer skills you’ll be to produce effective strategies and plans to your small business.

Keeping connected: Electronic mail has become a powerful and quick way to speak with your customers, employees and staff members. You’ll have the ability to speak all. Not just that you are able to conduct dialogue.

Worry-free: as soon as you become acquainted with a personal computer, your company’s mundane tasks will be simplified. When it’s currently creating a plan or keeping loads of company information your computer can perform these operations effectively and precision.

By not being computer literate, you will be prevented from doing jobs. As an instance when you need to send your customers some information that is important, you may use mail-merge along with your database to reach out within a brief length of time to them.

You will understand that the outcomes roll out with little or no odds of any discrepancy or mistake as soon as you get computer literacy. This is going to lead to greater productivity and advantage to your house based company prospect.


Secure Laboratory Environment

Today’s computer labs are subject to various kinds of malicious activities ranging from cyber criminals launching denial of service attacks on major commercial websites to users damaging the equipment. Every year these activities cost academic institutions and the general public millions of dollars.

To get the situation under control and protect themselves against accusations of negligence, lab managers need to establish a secure lab environment. Lab Management Systems is a major component of the secure lab environment.

Poor computer security practices on UO computers or in shared computing environments can lead to illegal or inappropriate use of UO computing resources, loss or release of sensitive personal information, or legal suits.

To increase security, use best computer security practices. Best practices may be broken down into System Admin Practices, User Practices, and Physical Practices.

System Admin Practices

One user, one account: One account for each user of a shared computer provides accountability. It is harder to track down the origin of a security problem with a computer account used by many people.

Limit the number of administrative accounts: Limiting administrative accounts on a shared computer reduces the possibility of unauthorized administrative access. It also lowers the probability that authorized users will accidentally put the computer into a less secure state.

Delete old user accounts: When personnel leave a lab, their computer accounts should be removed from a shared computer. Doing so reduces the possibility of the old account being misused.

Regular (monthly) system and software updates: Installing updated system and application software (when compatibility issues are not a problem) closes security holes.

Require password to wake machines from sleep mode: Requiring a password to wake a computer increases user accountability.

Configure sleep mode to start after 5 minutes’ inactivity: Placing a computer in sleep mode coupled with a password to wake it decreases the chances of sensitive data release or computer misuse.

Firewall unneeded network services to reduce exposure to network attacks: The UO network is regularly scanned from within and without by people looking for unsecured computers. Closing unneeded communication ports by using firewalls on a computer reduces network-scanning risk.

Regular (monthly, quarterly) password changes, especially on multi-user accounts: Changing passwords regularly prevents former personnel from accessing machines. It also reduces the usefulness of accidentally discovered passwords.

User Practices

Use strong passwords: Strong passwords, ones that are not words and have numbers and symbols in them, are less likely to fail to a dictionary password scan. Password strategies may be found here:

While “correct horse battery staple” is attractive, it’s easily broken by hackers using lists of words — so the difficulty to guess is not as hard as this xkcd comic on password strength would have you believe: http://xkcd.com/936/

25 Worst Passwords of 2011

500 Bad Passwords

More Bad Passwords

Even More Insecure Passwords

Conceal passwords: Ideally, passwords should not be written down; but when they are, they shouldn’t be on a yellow post-it or whiteboard next to the computer.

Log out of the computer when finished: The machine will run more quickly if only one user is logged in at a time. As far as the computer, security, and network records are concerned, there’s no distinction made between a user and their username.

Don’t share computer passwords: Private passwords increase user accountability.

Turn off the computer when finished: If the computer is going to be unused for a night or a weekend, turning it off increases security by making the machine unavailable for network scans or certain RAM password exploits.

Create folders for shared data: Using file system permissions to allow other computer users to read and write to a shared folder and reduces the need for sharing passwords and accounts.

Consider the use of \\cas-fs1\ as alternative to file sharing services such as DropBox or GoogleDocs: — The advantage of \\cas-fs1\ is that it is secure. It can handle greater amounts of data, the connection is secure, access permission control is very precise, and the data servers are physically located on campus.

Be aware of when personal private data is being used : When collecting grades, contact information, or other data on people, take care to protect private data and take steps to keep it private.

Physical Practices

Review physical security practices: Locks don’t work if the door’s propped open; keys don’t keep labs secure if they’re hanging in plain view on a peg.

Only connect authorized hardware to computers: Portable storage devices are a source of security risk: for example, some security exploits (Stuxnet) are run from USB flash drives or thumb drives. We’re in an age where thumb drives, especially unprovenanced ones, should be treated as malicious attack vectors. Ideally, data should be available via the network or a shared folder.

Prohibit computer and lab access to friends, family members, roommates, etc.: If associates of lab personnel don’t have access to lab computers, they can’t compromise them.


Servicing and Maintenance

Computer labs, or computer clusters, give many people access to computer programs and the Internet. Schools, public libraries, hotels and government offices and companies set up computer labs that contain a large quantity of computers, printers, scanners and other equipment.

These computers are usually hooked up to a central server and maintained by an IT Department. Lab computers are used often by people with varying degrees of computer training. This means they are at risk from viruses, corrupt files, spyware and malfunction.

You must maintain lab computers regularly in order to ensure that they don’t crash prematurely. Computer lab maintenance procedures may differ slightly depending upon whether you have Apple or PC computers

Below are the ways explaining how to maintain lab computers;

Establish the perimeters of your computer lab according to your organization’s rules. You may need to decide what search terms or websites you want to deny to your lab users. You will also want to establish the criteria for your firewall.

Seek the help of an IT service or IT department, if you are not knowledgeable about computers. Ask the users to seek the help of the administrator or IT staff if they have a problem.

Post a “Computer Lab Rules” sheet that clearly states computer lab restrictions. These may include prohibition of food and drink, downloading software, opening attachments, removal of equipment, access to illicit sites and more. Many labs maintain that anyone caught breaking the rules is removed from the premises.

Plug all your computer equipment into a surge protector. Spikes and surges in electrical power can break or damage electrical equipment, as well as lose lab users’ data. This is especially important in country computer labs and places that are prone to lightning storms.

Set up a firewall. This is a protections system for your computer lab. Choose a network layer firewall that will deny access to sites or programs that don’t fit into the acceptable criteria you have chosen.

Set up weekly updates or automatic updates for your lab computers. Many computer programs, such as Microsoft Office Suite, update their software and protection regularly. You will want to schedule these updates for a time when the computers are not in public use, and you may be able to do them from 1 central computer.

Install an anti-virus program on the computers and/or network. This will usually stop a program from downloading if it suspects a virus. You can run daily or weekly reports on the computers to check more carefully for viruses.

Install an anti-spyware program on your computers and/or network. Spyware programs install themselves onto computers to gather personal information. Anti-spyware programs can stop these harmful programs from corrupting or filling up your computer.

  • Some computer labs choose to download a spyware program purposefully onto their lab computers. These programs are sometimes called “keyloggers,” and they can gather data about how the lab computers are being used for the system administrators.
  • Anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are especially important for Windows operating systems. Schedule scans on both programs every week. Apple computers have been less susceptible to viruses in the past; however, they are increasingly under threat.

Back up your computers on a regular basis. If your computer lab becomes corrupted by a virus, you can return to the previous backup to restore it.

Use the hard disc cleanup and defragmentation utilities regularly. These Windows utilities regularly remove temporary files and keep the hard drive from fragmenting. If done on a weekly basis, the processes will be shorter than if you do it on a monthly basis.

  • Go to “My Computer” and right click on the “Local Disk” icon. Under “Properties” select “Disc Cleanup.”

Do not unplug printers, scanners and other connected machines when the computers are on. Eject any USB devices before unplugging them. You may need to post this on your “Lab Rules.”

Turn off all computers by selecting the shutdown option on the desktop.Avoid pressing the “Power” button to turn off computers. If this is necessary, run the computer in safe mode until you know what the problem is.

  • Ask your users to press the “Control,” “Alt” and “Delete” buttons if their computer freezes, rather than shutting it down with the “Power” button.

Clean your computer lab regularly. The following are effective ways to clean a computer lab:

  • Dust computer screens using a thin, soft microfiber cloth. Dedicate 1 cloth to be used only on the screens. If dirt and debris from other surfaces gets caught in the cloth, it can scratch the computer screen.
  • Vacuum the floor every day, if possible, so dirt and debris is less likely to gather around the computers.
  • Dust all surfaces of the computer. If the fans in the Central Processing Unit (CPU) fill with dust, the computer can overheat. Use a thicker microfiber cloth to pull the dust from the surface. Some types of microfiber cloth have been shown to attract and trap dust.
  • Use compressed air to clean out keyboards. You may also choose to use a disinfectant sprayed on a lint-free cloth on the keyboard and mouses, for sanitary purposes.


ASSIGNMENT : CS5: Computer Laboratory Care and Maintenance Assignment MARKS : 10  DURATION : 1 week, 3 days


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