I get these questions quite frequently (which I don’t really mind) but I thought it’d be handy if I just posted my thoughts. Nothing highly structured here just things as I think of them:
First you must have some software to protect against viruses AND spyware. If you dont you will be infected within 10-15 seconds of being online. That is not a joke. You will.
Everyone has their own favorites and least favorites. I started out, like most, with Norton and McAfee. Last time I used Norton was about 5 years ago and it was protecting as it should but sucking the resources out of my machine. When I got my new quad core nearly 2 years ago it came with a year of McAfee. Previous versions had been resource hogs as well but that version did well for me while I had it. If you get a computer with McAfee or Norton on it and it comes with some free protection, use it, it should be good for you. BUT JUST USE ONE OF THE OTHER. If you put more than one on your machine, they fight like those little beta fish they talk about in this book that I loved when I was younger.
When my McAfee expired I went looking for a free solution and there are many out there. Again a lot of people like a lot of different things. I have been a fan of AVG from GriSoft for a few years now. It seems to work very well for me. You can get the free version here: http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage
Some people prefer Avira. I have it on one laptop and it works well too. Get it here: http://www.avira.com/en/free-download-avira-free-antivirus/x-origin/web
Another program that I like that you CAN run in tandem is AdAware. See the problem you will always face is you could have 10 different antivirus and antispyware softwares running on your machine and each one would catch and miss things the others didn’t. It’s a bit of crap shoot. (Can I say that? Crap shoot?) Anyway Get AdAware here: http://www.lavasoft.com/
One of the best performing pieces of software I have found in the last few years is Malwarebytes. It is great! See you dont just have to worry about viruses any more…this isn’t 1999. Now you have to worry about Viruses, spyware, trojans, malware, root kits, worms…the whole shebang! Save yourself some headache and get Malware Bytes: http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free
HOW YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF
There are some easy things you can do to protect yourself, I’m gonna fire them off here in bullet points. Trust me, do these things.
- Back up your hard drive. Invest in an external hard drive and back up. Viruses etc will happen. Even if they dont your drive will eventually die. You will not thank me now. You WILL thank me later.
- Don’t click that link. On facebook, in the email etc…you don’t know whats there and some fairly big sites that get infected. Just don’t do it. This will save you some headache.
- If you are on a web page and a link is promising you free coffee for a year at starbucks and you click it…You will get infected if you click it. You will. Trust me. You WONT get free coffee but you WILL get virtual gonorrhea. You have been warned.
- I do not care who sent you that email and how funny they thought it was. Don’t open that attachment and dont click that link. I have an older relative that sends about 2 emails a week that are forwards…I pretty much delete them. If they knew they’d be crushed. But then again, I have to clean their computer regularly and mine is clean. I don’t care if your saintly mom sent you the email. If you did not request the attached file, don’t click it. Just. Don’t.
Sometimes you are going to get infected. It happens to the best of us. It hasn’t happened to me in a while but it happened to my wife…from her college site. Yep. And it was bad. Really bad. It is going to happen. When it does try the software above but if it doesn’t work TAKE IT TO SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO FIX IT. Trust me, it is worth the $25 or $50 or more to get it really cleaned off.
AND SOMETIMES…..sometimes the infection is just t0o bad and you need to wipe your hard drive. But that is OK…because you have those backups and know where your original discs are, right? Right? Right? RIGHT?!?!