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How To Protect your Windows computer from viruses, Correctly!

Tired of viruses, spyware and other forms of malware sneaking into your computer?

Contrary to popular belief, the #1 key to running a virus-free Windows PC is not a good anti-virus program*. Read on to understand why -- and how to really protect your computer from viruses, spyware and other types of malware.

* We have yet to find a single anti-virus program with 100% success rate in detecting and eliminating all threats. That does not mean, however, that we recommend uninstalling your antivirus software. It only means that you simply cannot count solely on an antivirus program to magically protect your computer from existing and future threats to your PC.

This surprising revelation can explain why so many computer users are suffering from viruses, trojans, worms, spyware and other types of malware -- despite running anti-virus software on their computers: An antivirus program by itself, is not sufficient for providing the trouble-free operation that you expect from your computer.

The following is a summary of proper configuration, use and habits that will help you enjoy years of malware-free operation of your Windows computer. It is based on over 30 years of virus-free experience. The priority in which you implement each tip below is important:

Priority DO DON'T
1 Create an additional user account. Change its type via Control Panel to Limited. Conduct all your work from that account. Do not work, read email, or use your Internet browser when logged into an account of the Computer Administrator type.

Exception: You must be logged in as Administrator to install new software, to perform updates to Windows and other applications that are installed in your computer, and to configure certain system settings. Keep your Administrator session to minimum.

2 After downloading an application, view its digital signature tab details and verify its validity. Do not install software that triggers the "The publisher could not be verified" warning.
3 Use two browsers. Install plug-ins (e.g. Flash) on one of them only! Use the "plug-in equipped" browser (e.g. IE) for entertainment. Use the "bare-bones" browser (e.g. Firefox) for article reading and secure transactions (i.e. online shopping, banking, etc.). Do not use only one browser for your entire Internet activity - especially if it has Flash and additional plug-ins installed and enabled, where each component introduces additional potential for a security hole.
4 Always work behind a properly configured router. Do not connect to the Internet without a trusted firewall. If you don't have one, Google "download sygate personal firewall" for a highly recommended free personal firewall for Windows XP. Make sure it is digitally signed, of course. For Windows 7 and Vista, we use the Comodo Firewall.
5 Visit only trusted websites. Do not visit dubious websites. Exercise careful judgment when deciding to click on that link that shows up in your Google or Bing search results.
6 Exercise caution when opening email messages in HTML mode. If you have an antivirus installed, perform a scan on attachment before deciding to open it. Do not click links in email that comes from unknown sources.
7 Install a lightweight antivirus program. Use only one real-time antivirus program. Do not install an antivirus suite that takes significant resources from your computer and slows it down to the level of being worse than the virus itself.

Do not install more than one real-time antivirus program.

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The most important message up to this point is: You can never claim that you seriously protect your computer if you continue doing your work, reading email and browsing the web while logged in as Administrator. We know, some of the measures described above make computer use somewhat less convenient, but this is a tradeoff that may well be worth the effort -- especially if you value your time and money.

The tips provided above are meant to serve as preventive measures against malware. De-infecting your computer after it has been contracted by a virus is a subject for a separate article. You can use the following blog post as a starting point: Anti-Virus Tips & Tricks .

Please remember to check this article regularly as we continue to update it to keep current with new versions of Windows, new threats and new insights.

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