Home Tech & Innovation Protecting your computer from nasty viruses

Protecting your computer from nasty viruses [and cute dancing teddy bears…]


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As anyone who’s had the flu knows, viruses are no walk in the park.

Then spare a thought for your poor old computer, which may be at risk of picking up bugs from other infected systems and passing them on – if you haven’t protected it.

The following tips from the good peeps at Intel give your computer the best chance of staying fighting fit…

Prevention is key

Once your computer’s infected with a virus it can be difficult, if not impossible, to fix. Therefore, it’s essential that you do everything you can to prevent tech-nasties from getting through in the first place.

1. Install effective anti-virus software.

There’s no excuse for not installing anti-virus software. ‘…But I couldn’t find any!’ Pfff, nonsense – it’s widely available. Any online or brick-and-mortar store that sells software will offer a number of products. Typically, they require an annual subscription – this means your anti-virus software stays up-to-date and ready to detect new threats.

Intel top tip: For added protection, consider buying a security suite that includes firewall software and other protection (such as spam filtering).

2. Don’t take risks.

Feel like living life on the edge? Take up skydiving. But never open an email attachment unless you’re convinced it’s legitimate.

And those cute little dancing teddy-bear chain emails – the ones with multiple font sizes and colours praising the fact it’s Friday in the same sentence as insisting you forward it on else no one will ever love you – hotbeds for dirty, filthy viruses. (We knew there was something shifty about that bear.)

3. Make regular virus scans a habit.

Anti-virus software typically lets you choose whether to schedule a scan on a regular basis or perform a manual scan.

Because a full scan can take an hour or more to complete, many anti-virus software packages also let you perform a quick, but less thorough, scan of the most commonly infected parts of the computer. See your product documentation for details.

Intel top tip: While you shouldn’t depend on it for your main anti-virus solution, another option is to use a free online service to scan your computer, like Trend Micro HouseCall, McAfee FreeScan, or Symantec Security Check.

You’ve discovered an infection. Now what?

If during a routine check you discover a virus or threat, take these steps:

4. Follow your anti-virus software’s on-screen instructions

Many viruses can be easily removed using this method. Another option for Windows-based systems is to use the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, free software distributed through Windows Update and updated monthly. Re-scan your computer after you’ve removed the virus (just to be sure).

Intel top tip: It’s also a good idea to scan again with a separate scanner, such as an online service, for added assurance

5. Contact an expert

If your initial efforts don’t resolve the problem, peruse your anti-virus product’s website for additional info. In some instances – particularly for high-profile threats – big-name anti-virus software manufacturers will provide a tool to nix specific nasties. These tools can be tricky to get the hang of, so you may want to hire an expert. Alternatively, many retail chains now offer in-store virus-removal services for a small fee.

6. Use restore disks or re-install the operating system

If you buy your computer brand-spanking new it should come with a set of one or more emergency ‘restore’ disks. If your efforts to remove a virus have been unsuccessful, these disks might just do the trick. Alas, unless your anti-virus software allows you to make a set of emergency restore disks when you install the software, you will lose any files that haven’t been backed up elsewhere.

As a last resort…

If your computer came with a set of one or more operating system disks, you can re-install the operating system and return the computer to factory condition. This can be a right pain in the tuchus, but is infinitely preferable to a virus-riddled computer.

Keeping your computer sans virus doesn’t need to take over your life – provided you follow a few basic preventative steps:

  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date
  • Don’t open suspicious email attachments or download untrustworthy internet content
  • Set Windows Update to automatic mode
  • Use firewall software

And while you’re at it, look for laptops and desktops with Intel Inside for the very best computing experiences both at home and on the go.