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Protecting Your PC

In the last year or so, there has been a dramatic increase in computers being infected by malicious spyware and viruses. The following five steps should be taken to protect your PC from infection.

1) Run a good Anti-Virus program, which means keeping it updated for new viruses.

There are free Anti-Virus programs that do a good job, such as AVG, available here.

There are also free online scans available, such as the one found here. These tools are handy if a virus has kiboshed the Anti-Virus program on your computer (sometimes because it wasn't kept updated). If the online scan handles your problem, your original Anti-Virus program should work again, so you can update it.

Keep in mind no anti-virus program is perfect for finding viruses. It is best to use a combination of online virus scanners, your computer antivirus and free spyware scanners that also catch viruses and trojans (which we'll come to in a bit).

2) Do not install any software from the Internet without adequately researching it.

Type 'spyware' after the name of the program you might wish to install using Google Search Engine (available as the first choice here ) and check a few entries on the first couple pages of search returns for opinions on any spyware that might be in the software.

Be aware that some programs that claim to protect your PC from spyware, or to speed it up etc. actually contain spyware, that will slow your PC down, among other things.

You can also type the word 'hoax' in Google, with an appropriate keyword for any e-mail warning you might receive about a particular virus in order to prevent spreading false warnings. Such hoaxes have been considered as a virus, with the computer user taking the place of the usual automated infection process. Anti-virus companies will never send out mass e-mailings, although some spammers go so far as to fake the look of the anti-virus maker's home page. Fortunately, such hoaxes are dying out.

3) Run a good firewall.

Zone Labs has a good free one available here. Pay attention during the install so that you choose the free version, and not the 30 day trial version of Zone Alarm Pro (unless you feel you need the extra features and are willing to pay for them). The free Zone Alarm provides firewall services better than many priced firewalls.

4) Regularly install Windows Updates to patch up vulnerabilities in Microsoft products.

Use the Google search engine to find out how to access your Windows Update, if the shortcut has been removed from your start menu. The method will vary depending on your operating system. Again, just think of a few key words, including your operating system (i.e. Windows 98 or Windows 2000, Windows XP or Vista to describe your problem and type it into Google.

5) Periodically Scan with spyware busters.

The above 4 points should protect you from spyware and viruses that could cripple your PC. However, during everyday surfing, your PC will pick up spyware.

To get rid of less damaging spyware, such as data miners, there are two good free programs that work well in tandem. Adaware is available here, and Spybot is available here. You can also get the Pro version of Adaware, or make a donation to Spybot, to help support these initatives.

Like your anti-virus, these tools should be updated before scanning in order to be optimally effective.


If you follow the suggestions above, you could still get infected by a virus not yet in the updated virus databases etc, but this is extremely unlikely. Better to worry about lightning strikes instead.

If your computer is already badly infected, the above tools might fix it. However, once the damage is done, it is quite possible you might have to dig deeper.

There are many tools for this. Good key words will find them. Manual adjustment of the computer registry and/or startup functions will still be necessary where there are very bad infections. In a worst case scenario, it might be simpler to reformat your PC than to hunt down all the spyware and virus problems in a PC which has been badly compromised. If you have data to backup, scan it good, with more than one tool, before you put it back on your re-formatted PC.

The bottom line here is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that there are free versions of all the tools you need to set up a more than adequate defence for the average computer.

Extend Your Wireless Network with the Yagi "Cantenna".

Call OZ Computers at 778-3949 for computer sales and service.