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Special Feature:
Y2K Checklist

Millenium BugOK, so the world has been made well aware of the possible strife that may occur upon our shift from this millenium to the next, as a result of many computerised date systems being based on a two-digit abbreviation. And while the big corporations, financila institutions and public utilities have been dishing out billions of dollars in order to correct faulty systems and ensure their Y2K preparedness, many home users (yes, you know who you are) have yet to act.

Fortunately, most home PCs are fairly safe - especially the newer models. Still, in order to protect your valuable data against both the Millenium Bug and the many viruses that are expected to circulate during the latter portion of this year, the All-4-Free Freebie Tree has pulled together both a preparedness checklist and a list of valuable links that are sure to set you in the right direction.

[1] Test your hardware, software and files for compliance
[2] Download Patches and Updates
[3] Protect Against Viruses
[4] Backup Important Data
[5] Be Aware
[6] Check that Your Community is Ready
[7] Prepare Your Home & Stock Supplies

1. Test Your System for Compliance

In order to best protect your computer data against the Millenium Bug, checks should be made to ensure that your Real-Time Clock (RTC), BIOS, software applications and files are Y2K compliant. The resources provided below have the potential to check, and sometimes correct, each of these. Still, it would be wise to make regular backups of one's most important files in the leadup to, and following, the 1st of January 2000.

McAfee Y2K Center is a must-stop for those who haven't had their PCs checked with a commercial year 2000 toolkit. Incorporating McAfee's renowned utilities into a user-friendly Web-based interface, users can scan their PCs for BIOS compatibilities, or check their software (and even individual files) for Y2K compliance within minutes.

Network Systems Management has a range of free downloads on offer. They produce a solid RTC check (the Real-Time Clock is the hardware clock component of your system - BIOS is its software equivalent that sometimes over-rides the RTC), as well as a Countdown Screensaver and a letter writing/template kit that will assist you in composing letters to suppliers, manufacturers and other business associates to check the progress of their preparations.

NSTL has made their reliable YMARK2000 compliance tester available for download free of charge.

RighTime has produced one of the most effective freeware utilities available for diagnosing system Y2K compliance. Test200.Exe determines whether or not your PC hardware will likely handle the change from 1999 to 2000, while offering remedial advice to those that won't.

SecureNet Technologies offers free multilingual downloads of its Y2K TEST software for all Windows platforms. This software will test your system for Y2K readiness and inform whether or not you need to take measures to ensure that your system is compliant.

2. Download Patches and Updates

The best protection for your software is to download the latest upgrades and bug-fixes provided by the software manufacturer. Most software companies have recently either released statements regarding the safety of their products, or have alternatively posted updates on their websites that are available for free download. Check whether each of your major applications has an 'Auto-Update' or 'Live-Update' feature built-in. If not, visit the manufacturer's website for the latest downloads. Some of the most popular of these are Microsoft, Adobe and Macromedia, to name but a few.

3. Protect Against Viruses

A number of high-profile news reports released of late have alluded to the fact that many virus creators are expected to target Christmas 99, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day as activation dates for their products. While some viruses pose little threat, others have the potential to reformat your hard-drive or render certain files useless. The best way to avoid becoming prey to these little critters is to update your anti-virus program, by using either its 'Live-Update' feature, or by downloading new .dat files from the vendor's website. If you currently have no virus protection installed on your machine, now is the time to do so...the link below explains why you no longer have an excuse not to...

Microsoft has teamed up with most of the world's major anti-virus software vendors in order to provide fully-working 90 day trials of their commercial anti-virus products. This is an unprecendented offer that is being launched in response to fears that virus makers may target their viruses to activate on Christmas, New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

4. Backup Important Data

Store all of your most valuable files and programs on portable media (such as floppies, zip discs, removable hard-drives or CDRs), to avoid corruption, damage or data loss. This should be carried out even on machines that checked out with flying colors in the diagnoses presented by the programs in Step 1. It's also a good idea to keep a copy of crucial documents backed-up off-site. (see below)

@Backup provides you with a web-based avenue through which your files can be backed-up regularly. @Backup stores multiple backups in off-site disaster-resistant locations to ensure that your most valuable files are given the protection that they deserve. Receive a free 30 day trial.

5. Be Aware

Probably the best way to learn how best to manage your personal situation, while allowing you to avoid panic, underplanning or overplanning, is to stay up-to-date with the latest news of developments and shortcomings in relation to Y2K. The sources below provide a thorough coverage of the issue, and its potential impact.

Microsoft Year 2000 Portal features a wealth of information and free downloads aimed at guiding computer users safely through to the next millenium.

Y2K News Network provides a central portal highlighting the latest articles, releases and breakthroughs related to dealing with Y2K.

Year2000.com hosts a plethora of articles, news clippings and advice columns aimed at assisting individuals and companies alike to deal with the lead-up to and possible aftermath of Y2K. Includes useful legal information and contingency plans, as well as offering visitors the opportunity to stay up-to-date on the latest by joining the Year 2000 Announcement List.

6. Check that Your Community is Ready

Check how your bank, your local utilities, your friends, family and work associates are preparing for Y2K. Bear in mind that while your company may be safe, your associates' shortcomings may render your services useless. Similarly, while your household may have planned its survival in the case of utility cuts, its plans may come unstuck if the surrounding community falls apart at the seams. Obviously, if major problems are encountered, the best solution will be to bind together as a community to help each other through, but in order for that to succeed, there must be a contingency system established in your locale. Check with your local council to see how your township will survive in the case of power and water outages.

Noah's Ark is once again called in to offer assistance to humankind in its time of need - this time by pointing out an invaluable range of resources devoted to preparation and survival. Makes preparing for Y2K as carefree as planning for a camping trip.

Westergaard Year 2000 offers an incredible exhaustive range of resources to aid you in planning your Y2K contingencies. Also offers updates regarding how the international community is handling the issue. Also features a free 'Tip of the Week' and a 'Daily Email Alert' feature.

7. Prepare Your Home

Even if you don't own or use a computer, the malfunction of mainframes and supercomputers that run your city's utilities, your state's primary industries, etc, will have an obvious effect upon your lifestyle. While this may never happen, it is always best to prepare for the worst, and then have a beef jerky and dehydrated vegetable party if nothing dire eventuates! ;-)

Hyatt's Y2K Prep is one of the most exhaustive guides to what you can do personally to prepare for Y2K. Michael Hyatt's site does not take a sensationalist's approach, but instead provides a collection of rational and reasonable hints and tips that will have you prepared for everything from minor inconveniences to worst-case-scenarios. Food resources, survival guides and a collection of thoughful articles are some of the highlights.

Ted Derryberry's Y2K Links have released a list of recommended Personal Y2K Supplies that should be purchased and stored in order to minimise the effect of any prolonged utility outages that may or may not occur after our move into the next millenium.

Y2K for Women avoids the technical jargon behind the Y2K problem and its potential fixes, and instead focuses on the practical side of preparing your home to ensure survival in the face of crises or shortages.


Keep the faith and we'll make it through!


DISCLAIMER: These links are provided as a service to the computer industry and other interested parties. Para-Noir Productions does not endorse the listed entities, nor is it responsible for the content accessible through these links. Under no circumstances will Para-Noir Productions be held liable to any third party who may choose to rely on a listed entity, their products, or services.

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