Acting as tech support for your friends and family getting to be a drag? OneCare is on the way. Check out this article - excerpt:

If computers are so smart, why can't they take care of themselves? Keeping a PC in proper trim involves a host of niggling little tasks, many of them confusing and all of them easy to forget. It's not fair.

Computers are good at remembering stuff. Surely they could remember to practice their own digital fitness regimen. Plenty of programs offer some degree of automated maintenance.

Most decent antivirus programs run themselves once a week and can download regular updates from the Internet.

But that's just one of several crucial tasks, so later this year, Microsoft Corp.  plans to introduce Windows OneCare, an online service for broadband  users that's designed to automate a computer's most important maintenance and security  tasks.

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OneCare is just one of several indications that Microsoft has finally grasped the critical importance of computer security. Remember the Zotob worm that swept across the Internet a few weeks ago? Probably not.

Earlier plagues like Code Red and Slammer afflicted millions of PCs. Zotob nailed a fraction of that number and then only computers that ran older versions of Windows. Windows XP users had nothing to fear; a happy hint that Microsoft is starting to get it right.

Still, there's a lot more to OneCare than security against malicious software. It oversees a number of other important tasks that most people neglect, disk defragmentation, for instance. When data is stored on a hard drive, it tends to get chopped into little fragments and scattered all over the disk. It's as if you filed a 100-page report by putting each page in a different drawer. If files were consolidated, the computer could find them faster.

Besides, looking up fragmented data puts a lot of stress on the mechanical components of the hard drive. Running a defragmentation program could help your computer last longer. Nearly every version of Windows has the program Disk Defragmenter built in; hardly anyone runs it. OneCare remembers to do it automatically.

Better yet, OneCare automates the most neglected job of all, data backup.