Are you tired of fighting viruses, Trojans, and spy ware? Me too. Not mine, everyone else's. The purpose of this article is to help you keep your PC clean and save you from going to your local PC repair shop. IN A LANGUAGE WE CAN ALL UNDERSTAND. This is a large article, but worth the read.
Is your PC not one of your most important possessions? What is your personal data, pictures, videos, music library and anything else you can imagine stored on your PC WORTH? Exactly, there is no way to put a dollar sign on it. Years of your valuable pics, GONE! Your huge, zillion dollar iTunes Library, Apps, and music collection, GONE! Videos, GONE!
Barring in mind, as we move forward with this article, even the most secure PC's can still be attacked. This is merely a guide to help you better secure your PC and data. I will in no way be responsible for WHAT YOU DON'T DO and HOW YOU DID IT. Here we go, hang on tight!!!
I have no affiliation with any of the software companies that I will be mentioning in this article. I recommend these titles from EXPERIENCE. These choices are also MY OPINION. Recognizing there are several methods to secure your PC and more security programs than I can count, DO NOT comment about or email your "better ideas", I will not respond. You can get your own blog for that. Also, put your credit card away, the following software recommendations are all free to the home user. That being said, you have no excuse not to have these or similar programs on your PC. Even if you already have a favorite security solution and software titles, the tips in this article will still be useful.
This is How Bruce T Does It. These are the steps and programs I use.
**Remember, if you chose to install any firewall or antivirus program, EXISTING antivirus and firewall programs MUST BE UNINSTALLED FIRST.**
First rule of thumb, have virus protection that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR. Why? Not because the economy is bad, because people run their paid subscription out, and keep clicking "IGNORE" when it is time to renew. Besides, there really is NO REASON TO PAY FOR IT, there are so many free, powerful solutions out there. Also, UPDATE REGULARLY. Stop ignoring updates because you may need to reboot your PC. Is the small amount of time it takes to reboot worth more than your pictures and data?
I recommend you go to http://www.comodo.com/ and download their free, all in one security suite. Here is the DOWNLOAD LINK.
Comodo will check for viruses in real time. Do yourself a favor and double click the Comodo icon in your task tray once and a while, then click on the "Antivirus Tab", now click run a scan. It's worth your time.
**I repeat, if you chose to install any firewall or antivirus program, EXISTING antivirus and firewall programs MUST BE UNINSTALLED FIRST.**
Don't rely on your basic Windows Firewall. A third party firewall solution, in my opinion, is much more secure than your basic Windows Firewall. And that's free too!!! As noted above, I recommend you go to http://www.comodo.com/ and download their free, all in one security suite. Here is the DOWNLOAD LINK.
Make sure you know if you have a 32bit or 64bit Windows install so you download the proper version. All you have to do is click the Windows "Start" button on the lower left of your desktop, slide your mouse pointer over to "Computer" or "My Computer" in the start menu, depending on your version of Windows. Now RIGHT click, a small menu pops up, and select "Properties". A window will now appear telling you what Windows operating system you have and if your install is 32-Bit or 64-Bit. Download the corresponding Comodo file, it's free for life.
A 3rd party firewall will be sort of a pain when first installed, asking you permission for your programs to connect to the Internet. Once you have allowed these programs, your firewall will not ask you again if you select "always allow" or something to that effect.
If your firewall asks you for permission for a program to connect to the Internet, only allow it if it is a known program installed on your PC. Typically your firewall will know. If you didn't start the program or are not sure, don't allow it, but leave the "remember my answer" box [or something to that effect] unchecked. If later this program runs again and you discover it is something you need, you can have your firewall allow and remember the program at that time.
A good firewall is absolutely necessary with today's "always on" broadband Internet. Besides blocking intrusion attempts into your PC, 3rd party firewalls can act as an ON/OFF switch for your Internet connection. The following procedure is not entirely necessary, but I offer it as an added security measure. This procedure applies to Comodo, but most 3rd Party firewalls have the option to "BLOCK ALL" Internet traffic. This "ON/OFF" switch is very helpful if you leave your PC on and not in use for extended periods of time. If you are using the Comodo Firewall, just right click the Comodo icon in your Task Tray, a little option menu pops up, slide your mouse pointer up to "Internet Security Level", slide over to and click "Block All" so that a check mark appears in front of that option. Your Internet connection is now locked. When you are ready to go online again, follow the same procedure, but applying the check mark to the default option of "Safe Mode", your Internet connection is now open to your PC and programs. If you are running something other than Comodo, see your help files for this procedure.
Again, you do not have to use Comodo, just use your favorite solution, but follow these tips, it will make your life easier.
This one is easy, so I will be brief. Run Windows Update often. Stop ignoring the "New Windows Updates are Available" dialog box. Stop ignoring the "Install updates and Shutdown Windows" dialog when you reboot or shut down your PC. Microsoft issues these updates for a reason, and most of these critical updates close holes in Windows that allow hackers and malicious files to make a mess of your PC. Just click on the Windows Start button, slide your mouse over "All Programs" and click on "Windows Update". Install all of the critical updates. You may have to reboot when it's finished, but this is something you MUST DO.
Why? Most of the PC's I have to clean have not been updated in ages. I recently cleaned one at the office, 48 updates were not installed. And someone will always ask "how does all of this crap get on my computer??" Hmm...I wonder. Moral of the story is UPDATE YOUR ANTIVIRUS AND WINDOWS REGULARLY.
REMOVE TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES
Now that we have the essential security in place, we will talk about temporary Internet files. Why? Because more often than not, when I'm cleaning a PC, this is where I find most malicious files. When you browse the Internet, EVERY PAGE you visit stores data on your PC. For the most part, this is an accepted practice an not harmful to your PC. These files will include "cookies" from a site to remember you were there, options you chose, images so pages load faster, etc. Click HERE if you would like to know more about cookies, and HERE if you want to learn more about Temporary Internet Files.
Sometimes, while browsing, bad stuff gets stored on your PC. I recommend you clean these temp files, if not all the time, once and a while to get rid of possible malicious files that may be stored in your Temporary Internet folder. Before you do this, keep in mind, this will remove all of your browsing history, cookies, temp files, and any data that you may have entered into a form on a website. It will also clear the websites you visited from your address bar. Be sure you have your favorite websites bookmarked before you do this if you are in the habit of dropping down the address bar and going back to a website.
To remove these temporary files, I recommend you download and run CCleaner. This is another free program that is very useful. Here is the DOWNLOAD link. You do not have to donate, you can just download. That is your choice.
Start the CCleaner program, click "Continue" if Windows asks your permission to run CCleaner. Now before you select "Analyze" or "Run Cleaner", click on the "Options" icon located on the lower left of the program window, do the following:
Click on the "Advanced" box. In here, be sure the "Only delete files in Windows Temp Folder older than 24 hours" is unchecked, I want you to get rid of this stuff. This next step is optional, but for those of you that want to keep the cookies for the sites you regularly visit. Click the "Options" icon again. Now click on the "Cookies" box. Scroll through this list of cookies, one at a time, click the cookies you want to keep, and click the arrow pointing to the right so this cookie now appears in the "Cookies to Save" Window. Now you are ready to clean these temporary files from your PC.
Now click on the "Cleaner" Icon on the top left of the program window. For grins, I want you to click on the "Analyze" button on the bottom of the program window. This will scan your system and show you the amount of Temporary Files stored on your PC, what size, and where they are located without removing them. Once you are over your astonishment of the number and size of these files, click on the "Run Cleaner" button and all of this garbage will now be removed. Again, you don't have to do this everyday, but you should do it once and a while. During the install, if you left the default options to install CCleaner to your toolbar checked, you can conveniently run this program from your browser. Your PC is now clean of it's Temporary Internet Files.
I also recommend you run CCleaner before doing a virus or malware scan. This will speed up the process and get rid of these files in advance of a Virus or Malware scan. Which brings us to the last topic of this article, malware.
Basically, malware is bad stuff you don't want running on your PC. For a complete explanation, CLICK HERE. Malware is the malicious stuff that hi-jacks your PC, slows it down, and in some cases, takes it completely over. Might even steal your personal information, passwords, and credit card numbers. To combat malware, I recommend MalwareBytes. This is another free to home users, yet powerful program that is crucial in your task of keeping your PC clean. Here is the DOWNLOAD link. In the free version, you have to manually can your PC by using the program, it will not automatically do it for you.
Once you have downloaded and installed MalwareBytes, launch the program from your Windows Start Menu. Click "Continue" if Windows asks permission to run the program. Once MalwareBytes is on your screen, click on the "Update" tab and check for updates. Once you are updated, click on the "Scanner" tab. Click on the circle in front of "Perform Complete Scan", then click the "Scan" button.. This will take a while. Let the scan complete and follow the after scan directions. It's that simple.
I know this was a lengthy article to read, and I thank you for reading. If you do these simple things, you will have less problems with your PC. Again, no PC is bullet proof, but there are things we can to to help prevent and minimize our security risks in today's broadband/always on Internet environment.
And that's how Bruce T Does It.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions.