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I have been fixing and setting up PCs for over ten years now and one of the most common questions that I receive is, “How do I protect my computer from viruses?”

Most people assume that if they have an anti-virus program installed on their computer then they are completely protected from a virus infection. Unfortunately this is not 100% true. Anti-virus software is a must and should be the foundation of a well-protected machine. Remember, like anything else in the world, not all anti-virus software is made equally. Do your research, ask around and choose what you feel is the best for your situation.

Now that we have a proper foundation started we need to start building our perimeter. Another myth that people seem to think of when talking about viruses is email. Years ago viruses were wide spread through emails from people we didn’t know. However, the word has gotten out about this a long time ago, and hackers have realized that email is not the best method for spreading viruses any more. One way is through software. Be sure that whatever software you are about to install comes from a trusted source. This could be directly from a CD that you purchased or from a well-known commercial outfit such as Microsoft or Adobe. If you receive a popup stating that you need to install a piece of software and you do not know who it is from, check into it before allowing to install. There are so many bogus pieces of software out on the Internet that their only purpose is to infect your computer.

Another good practice to get into is update, update, update. Windows is always “bugging” us it seems that there are new updates ready to install. Most of us ignore updating because it is just another nuisance. Not only do Windows updates bug us, but also updates to our Internet browsers, flash player, Adobe reader, and more. Why must they bother us all the time with these new updates? The reason is simple; the hackers have found yet another way of infecting us. It is critical that anytime there is an update available for any piece of software that you had installed on your computer, you download and install it as soon as possible. This will help secure these new found holes in the system and help protect your computer from getting infected.

One other piece of advice I can give you is to be sure that where you are going on the Internet is safe. Like the real world, there are some not so nice neighborhoods where you can get into trouble online. This is where a lot of viruses may be hiding, waiting to pounce.

Most computers that come into my shop have a couple of things in common. The anti-virus software is either out of date or the subscription is expired. The other issue with anti-virus is sometimes we see a sub-par anti-virus installed. This is where research and recommendations from others can come in handy. The other thing I see a lot is out of date software; mostly Windows. Other computers that come in for regular maintenance have up to date anti-virus with active subscriptions, all current Windows updates, and other updates for software such as Adobe and iTunes.

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Matt Burke of Preferred Computer Solutions in Peterborough (formerly Antrim Computer Repair and Service in Antrim), NH can be reached via email at or called at 603-924-7846 anytime.