Where To Get Free Help
There are two main steps to protecting your computer from viruses, Trojans and worms:
1. Install AntiVirus softwareYou can purchase a copy of AntiVirus software and install it on your computer. If you do not have any such software installed on your computer - this should be the next item you buy! AntiVirus software protects you from becoming infected by regularly scanning all files on your computer for viruses, and in most cases by checking every single file that you access (including files received via email etc) for viruses.
2. Keep it up to dateNew viruses appear all the time. There are at least 57,000 different viruses and more being created every single day! AntiVirus software can normally only detect those viruses, which the developer of the AntiVirus software knows about. Therefore it is absolutely essential that you keep your AntiVirus software up to date. Most AntiVirus software vendors provide a service (often for free) where you can get updates to the software. These updates allow you to detect and eliminate new virus threats. In some cases, AntiVirus software can even update itself over the Internet automatically! Always update your AntiVirus software as often possible - preferably every week.
Here are some additional steps you can take to protect yourself from viruses:
1. Get some Backup Software and take regular backups of your data. Ideally on to a location this is not on your computer. For example: a ZIP disk, Writable CD, etc. This way, if a virus infects your system (or another problem occurs) and you can not recover, you can always go back to the previous version of your data.
Do not overwrite your previous backup when taking a new backup. Problems have been known to occur during the backup process, so you want to make sure that you always have one complete backup available.
2. Do not open email attachments unless you were expecting to receive an email attachment from the person who sent the message. This includes email attachments from people you know - their computer may be infected, and the virus may be sending you email without their knowledge.
If you are not sure if the sender meant to send you an attachment, write to them and ask if they knew they sent you an an attachment and if they know what is in it.
When writing to a person who sent you a suspect attachment, be sure to use "New Message" (or the equivalent function) in your email program. Do not click "Reply" as you may easily inadvertently open the virus infected file.
3. If prompted, do not run macros when opening Microsoft Word or Excel documents unless you put the macros there yourself. This is especially true for documents received via email, even from people you know.
4. When downloading files from Internet sites save the files to a temporary folder on your computer, or to a floppy disk etc. Scan them for viruses using your AntiVirus software before opening or running them.
5. Avoid downloading files from disreputable sites. For example, do not download files from "crackz", "appz",. "warez" or other illegal/pirated software sites. Such files have been known to contain viruses, Trojans, etc.
6. Check that there is not a floppy disk inadvertently left in the drive before rebooting or restarting your computer.
If you start your computer and there is an infected disk in the drive, you can catch a virus this way!
7. Prepare a clean MS-DOS boot disk, and keep it in a safe place.
On most computers you can can make such a disk by opening an MS-DOS window and typing:
FORMAT A: /S
After preparing the disk, set the tab on the floppy disk to the Write-Protected position.
You may need this disk when recovering from some types of virus infections. Your AntiVirus software and/or AntiVirus web sites contain instructions for cleaning up viruses.
8. If possible you should also familiarize yourself with at least the basic MS-DOS commands. Knowing these commands can prove extremely handy in an emergency situation (and can also help you use your computer more productively).
There is a wide choice of AntiVirus Software available.
Regardless of which program you choose, always update your AntiVirus software as often possible so as to protect yourself from new virus threats!
- Norton AntiVirus
This program scans your disk for viruses, performs a live check on files accessed and is very regularly updated (there is even a function to update your AntiVirus protection over the Internet).
There are several versions to choose from depending on which version of Windows you have on your computer, and which media (CD-ROM or download) you prefer. I recommend the your purchase the Professional Edition which has more functions and is more powerful.
Other popular AntiVirus programs include:
- McAfee Virus Scan
- Panda AntiVirus
These web sites contain enyclopedias of information about viruses:
I particularly recommend the following web sites which, in my opinion, are the most comprehensive and regularly updated:
- Symantec AntiVirus Search for Viruses
Comprehensive searchable directory by Symantec who are the makers of the Norton AntiVirus software.
- McAfee Virus Information
Another excellent encyclopedia with good descriptions of common viruses.
Where To Get Free Help
These web sites provide help from real live people, on virus-related issues:
- Allexperts Computer Virus Q&A
Volunteer experts will answer your questions on viruses and computer security.