6. Update everything. Configure your operating system to automatically download and install all of the current updates to your operating system, as well as any other patches or upgrades. This means your operating system will be kept in tip-top shape, making it more resilient to security attacks.
7. Explore different browsers. While Windows Updates will also keep Internet Explorer regularly tweaked and upgraded, the browser itself is still a favorite target for malware authors. Alternatives such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari, are seen to be faster, more flexible, and safer than the Windows default. Switching is easy (you can even import your bookmarks!). Within a week or so, you won’t miss your old browser at all.
8. Beware of human error. Even with the most secure browser, human error can still lead to infections. If an alert window interrupts your browsing, asking if you would like to allow an automatic installation, break the temptation to click “Install” immediately and take a moment to review what’s being asked.
Certain parts of the internet are more prone to viruses and nasty programs than others. Buying legitimate software from authorized sites is by far the safest and wisest option. Trying to bypass security or save a few bucks by downloading pirated versions will almost always bring with it unwanted malware guests.
9. Back up all of your data. Set up your computer to back up your files frequently and regularly. If you’re on the machine a lot, then once a day is sensible. Once a week is a better option if you aren’t on the PC every waking hour. This way, even if a virus does infect your computer, you should be able to restore most (if not all) of your settings and data, with minimal document loss in the process.
10. Don’t panic. Be alert, not alarmed. Use your common sense and don’t freak out about the perceived threat of viruses and spyware. Don’t download anything that looks strange. Don’t click any links that seem not quite right. Don’t open attachments that are unexpected or unusual. Scan everything — twice, if you’re skeptical. Update everything. Back up everything. Consider using alternative programs.
And above all, use your common sense.
What’s your best tip for avoiding computer viruses? Let us know in the comments below.
Jessica Citizen writes for Tecca. Tecca is a next-generation personal electronics information and shopping service. We bring together the web’s leading content, commerce, and community features to provide comprehensive solutions for consumers’ ever-growing technology needs. Think of us as that tech savvy friend who helps you when you have questions about what to buy, what to pay, how to make the most of you already have, and when it’s time to upgrade. Get to know us on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.