How To Stay Computer Virus Free

While a lot of internet threats are rather over-hyped, there are some serious things to be cautious of when going online. Probably the biggest risk to the average internet user is malicious software. Commonly knows as "malware," this term refers to any program that exists solely to do harm. This may include damaging your computer or accessing your data without you knowing. Viruses, trojans, and spyware are all forms of malware. Now, malware can seriously mess up your system, and the idea of somebody having access to your personal info is understandably scary. Here are a few common sense tips you should always follow to help keep your computer clean.

  • Install anti-virus software. But not too much! A common mistake that people make is in thinking that having more than one anti-virus program will keep their computer twice as safe. On the contrary, this can cause both programs to stop performing correctly. Pick one solid program that you like. You'll also need to set up an automated scan. Folks who rely solely on manual scans run the risk of letting viruses slide by. The average computer user should schedule a scan for at least once a week. If your anti-virus software has real-time protection, that's even better.
  • Don't click on any pop-up ads. Pop-ups are notorious for installing sneaky things. Some sites have gotten really clever, designing pop-up ads that look like normal computer error messages. Think before you click. Read the error message carefully. If there are spelling mistakes, or if the error message is framed within a browser window, close it immediately.
  • Don't open email attachments from people you don't know. If you see a file name that ends in ".exe", delete it immediately. An .exe file is a program file. Even if you don't see a program file, look for clues that point towards the sender being less than trustworthy. If the text of an email seems overly generic and you don't recognize the sender, there could be trouble. When in doubt, reply and ask the sender to identify his-or-herself before downloading anything. Here's an example of an email that should raise warning flags:

How To Stay Computer Virus Free

  • Be wary about downloading programs from sites you don't recognize. Now, that said, there's a lot of really great independent and user-made software out there. But before you click that "Download" link, do a little research. Internet users love to talk about their recent downloads, so if somebody else has had problems, a quick Google search should turn up their comments in no time. It's also a good idea to see if the program you want can be found through a reputable download source, such as CNET Download, Brothersoft, or Softpedia.

9 Comments

My computer got Microsoft Security Essentials, it's free and If you keep it updated it's REALLY good! I've Never had a problem with it! (I'm not trying to advertise for it... but I just wan't to share my experience!) Cheers! :D

Thanks Ruben for sharing that, :)

I would like to add something:
It's known that people always prefer 'free', so don't try to install a pirated copy of an Anti-Virus software on your PC as it will probably contain a virus.

There are a couple of free anti-virus software out there. Avast and AVG are a couple. For male-ware you can use Malewarebytes.

Since you mentioned, "computer," instead of, "Windows PC," I'd like to point out that /any/ version of Linux is still virus-free and almost completely immune without any software anti-virus slow-downs.

Hi Cybe, while it's true that Linux is virus-free, and open source, it's a bit tough for people not knowledgeable about computers to learn to use.

Very true several years ago, modern Linux is pretty darned foolproof (I use it, after all) and point/click throughout, especially with some of the newer distributions which focus on user-friendliness..

Cybe, what would you recommend to newbies? I used Ubuntu for a while, but ended up switching back to a Mac.

To newbies I would recommend that they use what is interesting to them and that with which they are already invested /unless/ they are dis-satisfied in which case some investigation and learning is in order to determine one's best course of action. I never recommend Linux to anyone who isn't already interested and ready to switch.

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