Making It All Work
There are several things you can do to keep your audio computer running smoothly. First, unplug the Internet while you work. If you dial in or use broadband, the computer is always doing something Internet related in the background. This can take away from the power your music program needs. Log off or power down your DSL/cable modem. On the same theme, don't run other programs in the background while you are running music applications. Music applications ask a lot of the computer, so give it as much computing power as possible.
How will I know what equipment to use when there are so many choices?
Ask people, particularly music store employees and other home studio owners. You can even read the various Internet bulletin boards devoted to computer music. People aren't shy about opinions, but do keep in mind that many happy customers never post online and the customers with issues tend to scream the loudest.
There are many utilities to ensure that your disk is healthy and free of viruses and malware. You should also run these often to keep your disk in tiptop shape.
Always back up your work! You'll feel very bad if your hard work magically disappears or you catch a virus that wipes out all your data. You can back up by burning data to a CD or DVD. Both are cheap and very reliable. DVDs hold 4.7 gigabytes of information, while CDs hold 700 megabytes. You can even find places online to backup your software, and as the prices of hard disk drives continue to fall, you can just buy more external USB or FireWire drives for backup.
Computers are known for doing some strange things to your data, which is why backing up your files is crucial! Get in the habit of backing up your data as the last step after every work session. You'll be glad you did when disaster strikes. Hard drives are mechanical and they will fail. It's not if; it's when. Be prepared for the worst.