We get a lot of questions asking how best to ensure that your PC remains healthy and virus free.

There are so many varied and different types of threat out there, so the best way to protect your PC is to follow a few simple rules that should help you remain safe and keep your computer from becoming infected.

Install antivirus software

There are tonnes of different security products out there, we don’t endorse any one individual product but Norton make some of the most popular and widely used ones available at the moment.

There are also some good free products out there, including one from Microsoft, Security Essentials, which can be downloaded through the “Software Update” feature in Windows 7.

Some people complain that anti-virus software can make their computer run slow, but providing you only install one anti-virus program you shouldn’t notice too much of a change in your systems performance.

Keep it updated.

Almost all security suites will download new “virus definitions” whenever they can.  This is a list of the latest recorded virus threats, put together by the manufacturer of the software.

Downloading these updates ensures that you have protection against the latest viruses that could attack your computer.

Run regular scans

Most security suites will run automated scans at a set point in the day, but don’t underestimate the importance of making sure these scans run.  Your anti-virus software should check new files as you download them, but it might not know about the latest viruses at the time.

It should pick it up on a later full-system scan once it has the latest virus updates though.  Better late than never!

Turn on Windows Firewall.

firewall is another type of security feature which prevents unauthorized access to your computer from other sources on the Internet.

Think of your computer as having hundreds of ports that other devices on the Internet can connect to.  The firewall stops unwanted attempts to connect to these ports, which stops other people causing any damage to your computer remotely.

Since Windows XP there has been a firewall built into the operating system, and with Windows Vista and 7 it’s turned on automatically as well.

The best thing for you to do is leave it that way, only turn it off if you’re experiencing problems using a particular program or game on the Internet, and then turn it back on as soon as you are able to.

Don’t click on random pop-ups.

Unfortunately, there are web designers out there who’s sole job is to make pop-up ads that look exactly like a legitimate warning message from Windows.

The plan here is to fool you into thinking that your computer either already has a virus or is at risk of getting one.  When in reality it’s absolutely fine, except for this pop-up ad.

Often when you see one of these pop-ups you are in no threat whatsoever, the danger comes when you click on the ad (thinking that it’s a real warning from Windows) and are taken to a web page that tries to get you to purchase software.  Usually, the software doesn’t exist, and all the scammers are after is your banking information so that they can empty your account for you.

Most newer web browsers are good at stopping these ads appearing in the first place.  But you may want to consider some form of pop-up blocking software if upgrading your web browser doesn’t help the problem.

Use your head.

Make sure you keep your wits about you when online.  The number of people that get caught out by fake security warnings, pop-ups and spam Emails is incredible.

There are a few quick things to remember when it comes to things like this:

  • Don’t trust any pop up that says you have a virus, confirm with your virus checker program.
  • Don’t click on emails reporting to be from your bank, especially if they ask you for any account information, or to click on a link contained in the Email.
  • Do not ring any premium rate phone numbers that are included in pop-ups or Emails.
  • My personal favorite; there is no Nigerian prince that has left you a large amount of money in his will.  Don’t even entertain these types of Emails, just delete them without reading.

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