If you’ve ever had one, you know how frustrating virus can be. Not only do they take over your computer making it difficult to work, but they can do damage to files, send out spoof emails on your behalf, obtain critical personal information from your computer, and other scary stuff.
So how do you keep from getting viruses?
Keep Your Antivirus Software Updated
By running a trusted antivirus software for starters. Although it is simply not
enough to just have the software loaded on your computer, you must also keep it updated.
Think of your antivirus software like a dictionary. When new words come out, do they automatically get added? No, instead a new edition is produced and distributed. (Okay, so this has changed a little a lot since the Internet, but you get the idea).
Similarly, when a new virus comes out, your virus software doesn’t necessarily know about them. Instead, it needs to be updated so that it knows that there is a new virus out there. Once it knows about the virus, it will know to look for it and will quarantine it if found so that it doesn’t impact your computer.
But, simply keeping your antivirus software up to date may not be enough. Sometimes you have to take extra steps to ensure you don’t get a virus.
Scan Files Individually Before Running Them
While it’s important to only download and run files from trusted sources, sometimes stuff happens and the person sharing doesn’t realize they have shared an infected file until it’s too late.
If you are unsure of a file, particularly if you downloaded that file from the web, an email attachment, or other source that could potentially be questionable, check the file before running it.
Sure, it may seem like an extra step, but typically viruses can’t get into your system until they are executed, such as by opening a file or installing software, so if you check your file before you even open it, you could be saving yourself a lot of work later. (*Note while executing is the typical way to “activate” most viruses there are many different types of viruses that operate differently from one another, so the actions taken to become infected may vary.)
Most of the time your files will probably be clean, but all it takes is one infected file to ruin everything. While you can use your existing virus scan software to scan individual files (most virus software has this option), sometimes you just don’t have the time to wait on software.
When this happens, there are other options, such as checking your files online, using an Internet virus scan built for scanning only files (as opposed to scanning your entire computer).
There are some great places online to scan files, but one site we like is VirSCAN.org. This free site allows you to upload as many files as you like, but there is a 20Mb limit per file. Simply upload the files you are concerned with, and scan them. VirSCAN will tell you whether or not they’re infected.
If the file is infected, DO NOT run it. Have your virus software quarantine and remove the virus. Or you can manually remove the virus if know how to view and delete system files, program files, and registry entries (potentially).
It’s important to keep in mind that while VirSCAN won’t replace your antivirus software, it is a good tool to use for spot checking files before you run them.
Using both an antivirus program and spot-scanning individual files, can be an effective strategy for ensuring your computer stays virus free.
Do you have a favorite antivirus software or website? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.