Being a computer technician, I get the chance to learn a lot of patience, especially when it comes to people that are less knowledgeable than me. But there comes a point when my clients act so daft that I want to slap them. Last year, at the shop in which I worked, there was a woman who came in with complaints that her computer was full of viruses and kept crashing. avastAfter a few scans and removals, I found that the source of the virus was porn sites. When showing her where the viruses came from, she flat out denied it and said she had no idea how they got there. Well missy: twenty porn sites in your browser history says otherwise, I’m afraid.

I asked her about her anti-virus, and she said she removed it because she didn’t see why she had to keep it on – the control panel said the last time she used it was six months prior, so she uninstalled it. My patience was waning fast because she was becoming defensive, so I took a few minutes of my life to show her what viruses were capable of and how quickly they could spread. In this case, prevention is better than cure. And since I’m so kind-hearted, I thought I would share with you a few measures that I take to protect my computer.

  1. Disable Autorun. You have no idea what a difference this makes, since a lot of the viruses on the market nowadays spread onto computers via flash drives and Autorun. Disable this, now!
  2. Get a good anti-virus and firewall. I use XP’s firewall along with AVG 8.5 Free. It’s a great combo, and this protection cost me nothing. If you’re looking for free anti-virus suites, AVG, Avast!, and MalwareBytes are good places to start.
  3. firewallConfigure your firewall properly. Only allow your games access to the Internet when you plan to play online or update them. All your other programs that you have installed and connect to the Internet can be removed from the allowed list on your built-in firewall. Only AVG and Google Talk are allowed access on my computer.
  4. Get your friends to run a good anti-virus. This is especially important if you LAN regularly and share files a lot. Helping to keep their computers clean can only benefit both you and them in the long run.
  5. Make yourself another user on the computer, and change it to a limited one. Whenever you want to run a program or file, right-click it and select “Run As”, and type in the details of your account with administrative power (Vista does this well through UAC). This minimizes the control a virus can have on your computer, as they can’t do much damage without the right account name and password if they’re stuck in a limited account.

Alternatively, you could just switch to Linux or Mac OS X. Few people make viruses for these platforms because they couldn’t be bothered to attack a minority of users. Mac users suffer enough already.