Computer infections. Who needs them?! If you’ve ever contracted a computer virus, you know how it can seriously ruin your day (or week, or more). It’s easily done, and it happens in an instant: sites you visit, links you click on, files you download; they can all carry viruses.
It is worth mentioning: no one program can protect your computer from harm 100% of the time. But there are actions you can take to make your machine a more difficult target.
Basic Best Practices
Here are some best practices that will help you prevent an infection:
- Avoid “free” online games, screensavers, wallpapers, toolbars and search bars
- Avoid online coupons or serial key generators
- Avoid sites, such as MySpace.com, adult sites, file-sharing sites (BitTorrent, Kazaa, BearShare and others)
- Avoid programs that claim to repair, speedup or clean your computer
- Avoid clicking on advertisements
- Be sure you know what you’re downloading, even if you know the sender. Attachments with an *.exe and *.zip extension are especially prone to be infected
- Avoid clicking on links with suspicious or jumbled URLS. The more reputable the brand, the safer the site. If you are unsure of the site, research it first before visiting it
- Even on a safe platform (e.g., Facebook) avoid clicking on or downloading third-party files or folders.
The above are things you can do to avoid infections. There are additional actions you can take to make doubly sure your system is okay.
Nowadays our operating systems come with basic utility programs to prevent the most egregious attacks. To ensure you have the latest version that can help protection you against the latest viruses, you must regularly install updates. Additionally, you can also proactively download and run utility programs to identify and remove potentially harmful files.
The following are freemium programs. They have been recommended by my computer gurus and I have used them for a number of years – successfully. When you search for them on the web, you’ll note there are various sites that offer them for download. Again, be sure to use a reputable source and also be doubly sure to click on only the relevant links.
- SUPER AntiSpyware
- Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
- Spybot – Search & Destroy
- AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
- Disk Cleanup
As you’ll note by their names they can remove harmful files and programs and clean disk space. Run these programs on a regular basis – once a week is best – and in the order listed above. Each time, be sure to look for updates first and download these before running each program, one after the other.
When it comes to computer infections, being vigilant and proactive is your best bet. Yes, it takes time to protect your computer, but it is less painful than having to deal with an infection (unfortunately, I speak from experience). Taking these actions should keep your machine running as well as mine.