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Viruses are everywhere. They run ramped across the internet and your computer just might be a virtual playground for these computer bugs. But it simply does not have to be that way. There are certain measures you can take that will stop almost all viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, and worms dead in their tracks. In fact if your computer is running slower than when you first got it, you should start practicing what I am going to tell you about immediately.
You can catch these nasties by simply checking your email or downloading a program from an un reliable source. All viruses and things like them are man made and there are several reasons why people make viruses. Most of the times though the creator does it simply to be destructive or build a reputation in the virus making or hacking community. If these people would take that energy they put into being jerks they could be putting that energy into making product and selling it. Hell if you are going to do a bunch of work for nothing at least make it so people enjoy your work instead of making everyone hate you.
Below is a simple six step plan to protecting your computer from these harmful nasties. If you follow it religiously you should not have problems with this kind of garbage again. But if you fail to do so you are just opening a window of opportunity for something to happen. Following these steps may not get rid of every thing that you have accumulated up until now though, so it is best to start with a clean install of Windows to assure that your system is clean to begin with. However these steps should stop any further viruses and like things get into your computer.
6 Steps To Protecting Your Computer
1) Update your Operating System Regularly
The first step to protecting your PC and your valuable data is to ensure that the operating system (OS) is updated with the latest security patches. This is critical as OS manufacturers such as Microsoft Windows update security features of their products continuously to cover any potential and actual loopholes.
To check whether you have the latest update, click on the Start Menu->All Programs and select the Windows Update icon. Windows will take you to their update web page. From there just click on the appropriate button to download and install and required updates. We usually advise that this be done at least once every two weeks.
2) Buy Good Anti-Virus Software
Secondly you should have an updated anti-virus software running on your system.
Make sure to choose one of the better ones on the market today - a few dollars won't break you but malware will. I use and recommend Macro Virus. It it is also a spyware / adware removal tool and a pop up blocker all in one. They come out with frequent updates and have proved to one of the best I have found. You can check it out and use there free scan at http://www.guruofinfo.com/Recommends/macrovirus/. Another great online virus scan to use is Trend Micro's House Call. You can use their free scan at http://housecall.trendmicro.com/.
Make sure that the anti-virus software is updated frequently (sometimes even daily if need be) with fixes to the actual engine and to the database files that contain the latest cures against new viruses, worms and Trojans.
The anti-virus software must have the ability of scanning email and files as they are downloaded from the Internet to help prevent malware reaching your system. You should also make sure that the anti-virus software chosen awards you protection while on the Internet.
3) Know your Processes
Knowing what is running on your computer will increase your ability to identify potential harmful processes.
Call up the Windows Task Manager (press CTRL+ALT+DEL) and familiarize yourself with the processes running at any point in time.
Many are using processlibrary.com to learn about the processes they have running on their computer. This web site is a free resource library containing a comprehensive description of over 9000 that may be running on your computer. Searching for the processes is similar to using a search engine - type in the process name and processlibrary.com returns the full description including information on security threat levels if any and ways on removing the malicious code.
If you don't want to go through the rigmarole of typing in the search, processlibrary.com has an InfoBar which is essentially a plug-in for your Task Manager. You may download this free of charge (not a trial version) from there .
Just click on the i-button next to process and you can pull down information from the Internet regarding the process in question. With the Task Manager and process library data you can identify some of the threats. We say some because the Task Manager does not show you all the processes and dll's running at any point in time. For that you need a more powerful tool (such as WinTasks, read, WinTasks 5.0 Professional Unplugged).
4) Use Firewalls on the Internet
You should also seriously consider installing firewall software or using the native Windows firewall.
To activate your Windows Firewall click on your control panel and select Windows Firewall. Switch the firewall on by ticking the "On" radio button.
A good firewall prevents unauthorized use and access to your computer from external sources (e.g. hackers or hijackers) plus giving you additional protection against the more common Trojans and worms. A firewall on its own will not get rid of the virus problem but when used in conjunction with your OS updates, anti-virus software and processlibrary.com information, it will give you deeper system security and protection.
5) Know your Registry
The latest statistics show that about 94% of computers have corrupt and possibly harmful files. On average, almost each PC will have about 150+ errors on them due to registry fragmentation, and corrupt, unused, missing, orphaned or obsolete entries.
Residual files, unused and undeleted drivers, and corrupt or bad entries in registry settings will quickly litter even the newest of computers.The result? Frequent error messages, slow start-ups, declining and poor performance and registry integrity, unstable and frequent application errors and crashes, and, at times, even an inability to start Windows.
Some malware does effect your registry. If you keep your registry clean and know what is inside, you will be in a better position to realize immediately when performance has taken a downturn. We advise you to invest in a good registry cleaner, one that allows you to scan your registry deeply and fix all errors. Moreover, the cleaner must be able to backup your registry.
6) Backup your data
Prevention is better than cure however you may still catch a virus no matter how tight your security is. It is always advisable to backup all your data regularly - at least once a week. And, if you are a frequent PC user, you should backup your data on a daily basis.
Most people do not even realize that their system has been infected when it first happens. This is because the people that write this junk don't want you to know that it is on your computer. In other cases though you may notice that something did happen. Some of these things can be a new toolbar at the top of your browser, new home page, changes to security settings, changes to your bookmarks, or an overwhelming amount of pop-ups even when you are not doing anything.
Invest In Your Computers Future
The first and most important thing you need to buy for your computer is a good anti virus software package. There are a few good ones out there but some professionals recommend going as far as installing two or three of them. This is because not any one anti virus program will catch everything. These programs are made to remove known viruses. Some companies find them and find a way to fix them before others do and there is not one of them that knows of them all.
This is also the reason why completely free virus software is not that good. The people that put out completely free anti virus programs really have no motivation to upgrade them. They are not receiving money from people to keep up their virus definitions so it is simply a project put on the back burner. I strongly recommend you get Macro Virus or some other virus scan that has a paid version.
The second thing you need to get is anti spyware / adware software. There are several out on the market today and just like anti virus software there is not one that catches it all. The free ones that are on the market are ok. Free anti spyware software is just like free anti virus software though. You can expect to get fewer updates and wait longer for them. In this world you really get what you pay for and in this situation you simply cannot rely on free software alone. I recommend that you run at least two of these programs just like your anti virus. I use Macro Virus and AdWare for accomplishing this.
The third thing you need is a great registry cleaner. This will take allot of pain and guess work out of doing it yourself. Your registry is a very sensitive thing to mess with and I highly recommend you don't try to alter it before you get a good understanding of what the entries mean as well as what hkey's they are in. I use Error Nuker to take care of this hard work. They are one of the only ones that uses a Windows registry map so you know it isn't going to accidentally mess something up. It also automatically backs up your registry.
Last but not least you need to invest in a firewall. Windows firewall does work to an extent. But after all this is Microsoft we are talking about. The rest of their software is released with bugs and other problems. A firewall is one of those products that even the free ones work well since they don't need nearly as much updating as a anti virus or spyware application. I recommend Zone Alarm myself. You can get their free version that works very well in my opinion from www.zonelabs.com/.
Practice is six step process frequently and you should not have any problems. But whatever you do don't put this on the back burner. If you keep putting it off eventually your computer will crash hard and all of your valuable information will be lost. Once you have things clean and running good continue to practice these steps and you should stay free and clear of any software related problems. Trust me a little bit of work right now is worth saving a major headache down the road.