Use a Good Anti-Virus Program
Running a good anti-virus program is paramount to keeping your PC clean of infection. The other part of that is making sure it stays updated. A PC with an outdated anti-virus program fares no better than one without any anti-virus software. There are a lot of anti-virus programs out there, some of which are free, no single one is perfect and will stop all malware. Some are better than others. According to PCMag.com, the top five free anti-virus programs are:
- Panda Free Antivirus (2016)
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014)
- Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free
- Ad-Adware Free Antivirus+ 11
- Avast Free Antivirus 2015
I, personally, use Avast. The free version offers real time protection, file system shield and web shield. Out of the box, the virus definitions update automatically. I like to schedule a full scan to run weekly, although you can run it more frequently if you choose. I wouldn’t recommend running a full scan less than once a week though.
Compliment Your Anti-Virus with Anti-Malware
Johnny Carson had Ed McMahon, Letterman had Paul Shaffer, your anti-virus works best when it’s complimented by anti-malware. A number of the popular anti-virus programs have anti-malware baked in. Even still, it’s not a bad idea to have a dedicated anti-malware program installed, like Malwarebytes Anti-malware, to pick up anything your anti-virus may have missed. Think of it as a second set of eyes.
It’s a good idea to run a malware scan along with your virus scan. Malwarebytes is my go-to scanner when I suspect a computer has an infection. Most of the time, Malwarebytes is able to clean it up.
Check Your Email
Email is still one of the most common ways a virus is spread. That being said, please, read this next sentence out loud. There is no such thing as a trusted sender. Just because the email came from somebody you know does not automatically mean it’s safe. While a lot of anti-virus programs, like Avast, will scan a file as you try to open, it is always good practice to scan attachments before opening them.
Be Vigilant When Installing Software
I see this one a lot. Something pops up on the screen and people click download without a second thought. You downloaded a free program and it installs a bunch of other junk along with it. It happens to everyone at one point or another. Usually because people have become complacent.
If you see a popup on your screen asking you to install a program, don’t just blindly click install. Check the name of the program. If you are unsure, search for the name of the program online. If the results list how to remove it, you shouldn’t install it.
On a related note, when installing a program, don’t just click next until you get to the end. Take the time and be sure you read what the installer is doing. A lot of times, free software comes bundled with other software which is usually useless and only serves to slow your PC down.
Just remember, that you are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your PC. Following these simple tips will help keep your PC free from infection.