Condoms for Your PC - Use an Anti-Virus Program

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

WHAT IS A VIRUS - In non-technical terms, a virus on your PC is a program that will cause you a problem. It will jam your ability to use the PC because it makes the PC too busy, it will cause undesirable actions (such as changing files), or it will cause loss of data by deleting files (potentially, all of your files). While it is possible that you will never experience a virus or that you will experience only a mild virus, there is no virus that you want to have any more than you want to have the flu.

HOW CAN THEY GET ONTO MY PC - If you use your PC long enough, you are likely to encounter at least one virus. For the most part, they are distributed through Email attachments. More recent and more clever versions, however, can install themselves from visits to web pages with no warning. Since almost all of us go to a web page at some time, it is more likely that we will encounter a virus at some time.

HOW DO WE AVOID THEM - Beyond the obvious advice of "never open an attachment (even from someone you know) without saving it to your PC and letting an anti-virus program scan it," consider the approach of "don't open an Email from someone you don't know." That one becomes a problem for many of us who get mail from potential customers and don't know them in advance. Perhaps a better rule is "to use caution in opening Email; avoid Email without a subject or with an unreadable subject; and avoid Email from a strange Email address." You would not expect to get an Email from the President nor from Howdy Doody, so don't open one if you see such Email addresses.

The professional answer is to get and utilize a commercial anti-virus program. There are old standby programs from Symantec, McAfee, and Computer Associates (CA). There are newer ones from Trend Micro, PC Tools, and Microsoft. For those who love freeware, try Grisoft's AVG.

IF IT ISN'T UP-TO-DATE, IT ISN'T SAFE - Consider this scenario: Monday you buy an Anti-Virus program which protects against viruses A, B, and C. On Tuesday, someone creates virus D. On Wednesday, your Anti-Virus companyhears about the virus D and starts to work on a remedy. On Thursday, your Anti-Virus company issues a patch to address virus D. On Friday, you get the patch to address virus D. If you install the patch to address virus D on Saturday and the virus D comes to you on Sunday, you are protected. If the virus D comes to you on Sunday and you did not install the patch, you get the virus. Thus, it is vital to keep your Anti-Virus product up-to-date in order to keep your PC safe.

IF IT ISN'T RUN, IT ISN'T SAFE - As with the updates to the Anti-Virus software, you also need to run the Anti-Virus software on some regular basis in order to have it check for viruses. If I just ran it yesterday, what's the hurry to run it again? The answer is related to the patches. Those patches may now locate a problem that was missed in previous scans. I run updates and scans on a daily basis. You may wish to do less than that, but you should run an update and a scan at least on a weekly basis. It is better to be safe than sorry.

HOW TO RUN - Most Anti-Virus products offer a scheduler so that it is easy for you to set an update and scan to run on a selected day(s) and at a selected time. Try to run the processes during the day so that you can see the results and address any problems which are identified.

Whatever you do, it is better to have some Anti-Virus product at work for you to help to keep your PC safe.

This article contains suggestions for the use of utility programs under the Windows operating system. They are based on years of use, but they may not be the right suggestions for you and your PC environment. Before you follow any technical suggestion, be sure that you have a current (and tested) backup of all system and data files and that you can restore the system if necessary. You are welcome to contact me if you encounter a problem, but I assume no responsibility for your actions and/or use of the information provided and disclaim any legal responsibility for any negative results of such actions.

Copyright 2006 by Tim Flynt. All rights reserved.

Tim Flynt has spent over 25 years dedicated to efficient application and utility systems. Experienced in higher education, entertainment, and software development organizations. Current interest in "PC Maintenance Management."

Like it? Share it!

Nick Niesen

About the Author

Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
Articles Posted: 33,847

More by this author