Viruses and security


I don't want to go into any real detail here. Suffice to say that viruses have a number of purposes. They can be as harmless as popping a little text onto your screen at a certain date/time to deleting (irrevocably) everything on your harddrive. Most corrupt files. Doesn't sound too bad, until that Word file you've been working on for weeks is no longer readable.

What can you do. Very simple:

  1. ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR FILES. Multiple copies in multiple places. This is key - think fires. If a single fire can kill all your backups, move one somewhere!
  2. Have virus scanning software up and running at all times. However, this is not perfect, after all, you cannot protect against viruses that haven't been written. Thus, there is always a bit of a lag between virus introduction and fixes. Newer virus software will autoupdate on a regular basis if you're connected to the web. If running older software, make sure you install the latest virus definitions. These can be downloaded from the software websites. Do this at least once a month. More often if you read about the latest virus hitting. A suggestion or two: I just use the stuff that comes with windows. Seems to work about as well as anything else. Avoid, at all costs, McAfee (buggy, huge, problems) and Kasparsky (info goes to Russia). I'd stay away from Norton as well, just because it's spendy.
  3. Don't download or install stuff from the web. Be very wary of executable files - especially if they aren't from a reputable website. ie - loading a software patch from is pretty safe (theoretically), some file from - maybe not...

Computer Security: some options

10 tips for PC users