Many computers, especially those running a Windows® operating system, are at risk of contracting computer viruses. While some viruses are merely annoying, others can cause severe damage to your computer and may corrupt data beyond repair. To protect your computer from viruses, there are a few simple steps that can be taken. You must consider it a full time job; your computer is never truly safe unless it is disconnected from the Internet and you never insert computer disks or software from unreliable sources.
Keeping a close eye on the health of your operating system and software is an important way to protect your computer from viruses. Ideally, you should use an operating system that is less susceptible to viruses, such as Linux® or Macintosh®. If you have a Windows® operating system, make sure to keep up with updates and system patches so that viruses cannot exploit system vulnerabilities. Use security patches for web browsers as well, especially if you use Internet Explorer®, or consider using a less vulnerable browser, like Mozilla Firefox® or Opera™. If your computer starts to run sluggishly or behave oddly, you may have a computer virus, and you should take steps to eliminate it.
Anti-virus software will help protect your computer as well, by maintaining a database of viruses and eliminating threats to your system as they arise, along with running periodic whole system scans. Anti-virus software can only effectively work if you keep it running at all times and update it frequently. Most software will automatically tell you when it needs updates. If you cannot afford anti-virus products, consider using anti-virus freeware from a reputable source.
You can also protect your computer from viruses by using a secure Internet connection and combining it with a firewall. Firewalls are easy to install; most computers have a setting which allows you to turn a firewall on and off, and if you make use of a wireless router, the router often has a firewall as well. If you are on a college or corporate network, the network administrators may take addition steps to protect the system from viruses so that the whole computer network will be healthy. Take advantage of anti-virus software and updates provided by your network, along with the firewall, which is often stronger than that on a personal computer.
Protect your computer from viruses by not installing untrustworthy software, clicking on pop-up ads, or opening unfamiliar emails, especially those that come with attachments. Use anti-virus scanning software to inspect incoming email, and use the quarantine feature to isolate and eliminate incoming infected files. Make sure to scan disks that you use as well, to make sure that a virus is not contained on the disk, even it is from someone you know and trust.