Guide to antivirus software and virus protection

Keeping your computer free and safe from viruses is usually a lot easier than most people think, all you need is a little preventative maintenance and a good antivirus program.

If you follow these simple steps for virus prevention, you should be able to keep your computer virus free.

1. Get a good antivirus program
A good antivirus program should be your first priority in preventing a virus. Spending $50 now on antivirus software can end up saving you hundreds, if not thousands, on data recovery and computer repair if you do get a virus. Two great antivirus programs that I have used and highly recommend are Norton Antivirus and Mcafee Antivirus. Both of these antivirus packages are the premiere pieces of software in the antivirus industry.

2. Keep your antivirus definitions up to date
An antivirus program is relatively useless if it is not kept up to date. Make sure you either use the antivirus definition update scheduler built into your antivirus program, or manually update your antivirus software definitions at least weekly.

3. Do NOT open email attachments
Most viruses these days are spread via email, and many in the form of an email attachment. While antivirus programs will pick up most email viruses there are many cases where the viruses are newer than the antivirus definitions on your computer, or your antivirus software isn't set to scan all files (takes up a lot of computer resources), or perhaps the virus is so new that the antivirus companies have yet to produce a 'vaccine' to counter the virus. If you receive an attachment in your email from someone you don't know, you should delete it right away, DO NOT OPEN IT. If you receive an attachment, but are not expecting one, from someone you know, contact them to verify that it is not a virus. Some viruses try to immitate your friends and colleagues so it doesn't hurt to verify that the email is virus free.

4. Scan any email attachments that you are planning open
If you must open an email attachment you should first save the attachment into a specific folder on your computer (ex. c:\attachments), and use your antivirus software to scan the folder for viruses. Once you are sure this folder is virus free, your attachments should be safe to open.

5. "Does the attachment makes sense?" If not delete it!
The majority of e-mails with files attached that are infected by a virus don't make sense. The e-mail may say it is someones resume but the attachment is named funny.exe. Contact the sender and ask if they included an attachment. Some virus infected attachments have two file extensions on them, like policy.txt.exe. If you see this a bell should go off in your head. File extension such as exe, bat, com, and pif are files that are going to execute a program on you computer.

Pick up yourself a copy of one of these great antivirus programs.