How to protect your computer online against viruses and spyware

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Best Computer Virus Protection

What is computer virus and how to best protect your computer

Surfing the net can be fun and learning experience. Whether you go online to catch up with what's happening, keep in touch with your friends, listen to music and watch videos, or do serious school or professional research, the internet is an endless source of useful, fun and educational stuff. But you need to be alert while online as there are dangers lurking online to catch the unwary - in the form of computer viruses and spyware. Before you go online, you need to protect your computer from online threats.

What are computer viruses?

Computer viruses are small programs or scripts that reproduce themselves and infect computer files and disks. They are spread and transmitted whenever files, disks, or programs are exchanged, either online or via disks.

For example, when you receive and open email attachments from unknown senders they could contain a virus. It's a good policy and one could say an important cornerstone of best computer virus protection, to never open an email attachment received from an unknown sender, no matter how important or appealing it seems.

Even email attachments from known people, like your friends, professors, colleagues, or even your boss, can contain a virus. The senders themselves may not even be aware that they're sending you a virus. Some computer viruses will duplicate themselves and attempt to email their copies to your mail list, via Outlook Express for example. Norton Antivirus program is possibly the best to use to prevent this from happening - the program will scan every email you send via Outlook Express and stop those that might contain a virus.

Protect your computer against viruses
Good antivirus protection for your computer involves more than just an antivirus program,
even though it's one of the essentials for antivirus protection. (Image by

No virus protection system is foolproof

When talking about computer virus protection, anti-virus software, and firewalls, it is important to stress that no virus protection system is foolproof. Even top security computer systems have been infiltrated time and again by hackers and computer criminals simply by programming a virus. Files have been deleted, accounts and identities have been stolen, and confidential files have been accessed by these hackers. This is not to say that anti-virus softwares are useless, but to point out that these programs work and perform better with the users' assistance.

Computer virus protection, anti-virus software, and firewalls are developed to help you identify the viruses, the infected part of your system, and the process by which the virus can be contained. But as pointed out before, they need your assistance. This is best achieved by using a number of good virus-fighting and prevention software, rather than relying on any one single anti-virus program to do the job.

New programs are developed regularly, and aside from these, there are also new technologies put in use. With the improvements in technology, it is naive and erroneous to assume that viruses remain as they are. They are constantly changing, becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect. Most advanced computer viruses aren't detected until they have brought down and controlled entire systems.

For best computer virus protection you need to install and use several different virus and spyware prevention and fighting programs. Each one of those programs will deal with a different aspect of your computer security and protection. Generally avoid installing and using two antivirus programs at the same time, as they will conflict with each other. So, stick with one antivirus program only; paid one if you run a business, or a free one for home computers.

In addition to a good antivirus program set yourself with a reliable anti-spyware program, such as Malwarebytes, which is available in both free and paid version. Naturally enough, paid version will do more, while free version only provides some very basic protection. You should also ensure to have firewall installed and regularly updated, even if it's only Microsoft's own firewall that comes free with Windows. There's also Zone Alarm program, also available as free and paid.

Paid anti-virus programs work best

So, the first trick of good virus protection is to subscribe to a reputable anti-virus software. Free software can detect and quarantine simple worms and viruses, but they would be hard-pressed to detect the more sophisticated kinds. Subscription requires minimal fees compared to the degree of protection your computer system receives. This is especially advisable to companies and large businesses where several computers are joined in a network - using paid anti-virus program should be mandatory. Computers for home use and ones that aren't used for storing sensitive data can do just fine with free downloadable software.

Subscription automatically causes your computer virus protection, anti-virus software, and firewall security to update whenever it is possible. This is an advantage because you can keep up with the rapid sophistication of new viruses. The more updated your software is, the more efficient it is in catching the virus.

Free antivirus software must also be updated or replaced with new versions regularly. It is best to update your software whenever your software site alerts you of newer versions. But be on guard against viruses which sometime can emulate (pretend to be) your antivirus program, asking you to click and renew it. Always set up your free antivirus program to be renewed automatically, to avoid being tricked into downloading a virus via a "pretend" virus program.

Scan your computer regularly

Aside from these tricks, doing virus scans on files, disks, software disks, programs, and other applications must be second nature to you before opening them or downloading. A computer virus can only install itself on your system by being downloaded as part of some other program, or inadvertedly opened (thus downloaded) via an email attachment. So, think before you click.

Another good policy of computer protection against viruses is to keep back-up files of the data and files in your computer in case a virus caused them to be deleted. Develop a good habit of backing up your most important files regularly, so if you end up with a virus on your computer, the damage will be minimal.

Regular rebooting and "clean up" of your system also minimize susceptibility to viruses. CCleaner is one of the best cleaning programs, while File Shredder will systematically delete any sensitive files and data that you no longer want on your computer. This is especially important for your computer security protection, to avoid any potential identity theft.

Furthermore, use MS Disk Defragmenter or free Defraggler to defragment your files and avoid disk errors. A well optimized computer system will more efficiently fight online threats and viruses, than the system that's slow and riddled with disk or file errors.

In conclusion, your best computer virus protection is achieved with the help from a good antivirus and anti-spyware programs, and reliable firewall. Doing a regular clean-up of your system and backing up your files will better optimize your computer, making it more resistant to potential online threats.

Computer Virus Articles:

  • Antivirus Programs Tips - When choosing antivirus software for your new or old computer, there are some basics that you should know before you decide on what antivirus program to download and install on your computer system. 
  • Computer Virus Prevention - Simple and practical steps will help you protect your computer against viruses by preventing your system from being infected by a virus. 
  • Computer Virus Protection - What is a computer virus and how to best protect your computer system from viruses and other online threats. 
  • Computer Viruses and Worms - While many computer viruses are just designed to annoy us, some can cause serious computer damage. This particularly applies to worms, which are usually amongst most destructive viruses. See the list of more destructive worms and trojans, and what they can do to your computer.  
  • Fighting Computer Viruses - Antivirus programs generally keep pace with current virus threats. But instead of only relying on those programs doing their job, take some simple steps to protect your computer and avoid getting infected by a virus.  
  • Avast Antivirus Program - One of the best free antivirus programs is Avast Antivirus. If you're not already familiar with this program, read our review of this easy to use antivirus program and how to use it.  
  • Norton Antivirus Program - Who hasn't yeat heard of Symantec's Norton Antivirus!? One of the most reliable, paid antivirus programs is easy to use and provides a good all-round protection for your computer.  
  • Trojan Horse - Even if you're an occasional computer user, no doubt you know about trojan horses and the threat they can pose to your computer. Often masquerading as a harmless application, trojan horse can be a destructive program. 
  • Zone Alarm - One of the internet security programs that should be on your computer as part of online protection. Available both in free and paid version, Zone Alarm monitors your online traffic and acts as a firewall, to protect your computer against malware threats.