Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How to really protect your computer

Do you scan your computer on a daily basis?  If not, then you are asking for trouble.  I'm sure you think you can't afford a virus scanner - but really, you can.  Here are two donation-ware (one is actually open source) so that if you CAN afford it, you can give your support by donating:

Clamwin and Spybot Search & Destroy.

The first (Clamwin) scans for viruses and the second (Spybot) scans for malware, spyware, and adware.  The definitions overlap though but to sum it up, a computer virus can propagate from computer to computer.

Spyware is software that watches your every move (some more than others).  Usually it's for advertising, but sometimes it's to collect personal info to sell.

Adware sometimes acts like spyware for the sole purpose of sending you ads via a software.  Sometimes adware isn't so bad.  The free version of Evernote might be considered adware, since at the bottom corner has an ad display, but it's tastefully placed and is unobtrusive.  So adware is so bad, that you can't do anything for more than five minutes without having a pop-up block your view.  You should try to uninstall the software first before using spybot.

Malware is pretty much any software that messes with your system.  Spyware is malware, and some adware is malware.  Usually it's software that's installed that pretends to be legitimate and it turns out to be a scam.

Recently, I had to deal with such malware.  A supposed virus scanner (one that I hadn't installed) found supposed viruses on my computer.  I couldn't open ANY of my programs including the task manager.  If I had scanned my computer daily, instead of weekly, then I probably would have avoided the problem altogether.  I did eventually get rid of the virus, but it took a while.

Moral of this post:  Download (or buy) a virus and spyware scanner.  The best two I ever used are the ones I just mentioned.  You can download them now:

Then start using them - daily.
Credit: Photo had been "remixed" with "Ubuntu laptop" from sfllaw and "Evil Face" from bixentro on flickr.comBoth are licensed under Creative Commons ( wasn't paid for any of the links in this post.

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