How To Prevent And Eliminate Spyware, Adware, And Viruses

By: Gabriel Adams

Wow, sounds like a big topic, doesn't it? It's not so bad. Sure, you can go buy expensive solutions-in-a-box. There are offerings like Norton Anti-Virus, Webroot Spy Sweeper, and Lavasoft Ad Aware. The first two will cost you, whereas Ad Aware is a free download. All three are decent programs.

Here's the deal, though: before you invest in such programs, you might want to think about ways that you can prevent/eliminate spyware, adware, and viruses on your own. Then, you can decide if it's worth it to install a solution-in-a-box. You may find that you don't need them after all.

The first thing to consider is whether you're using a router. If you use a router for your home network (which allows multiple computers to connect to the same internet connection) then you most likely have a firewall running already. You probably already use Windows XP which has a built in firewall as well (Windows Firewall).

A firewall blocks internet traffic that might cause harm to your computer. This traffic flows on virtual pathways called ports. Firewalls block ports, essentially preventing hackers from accessing your system without your permission or knowledge.

If you're already running a firewall on Windows XP and in your router, you are already protected to a large degree. The other type of protection you will need in order to prevent malicious processes from running on your machine consists of one thing: you.

That's right, other than a firewall, the number one way to prevent malicious software from getting on your system is by you preventing it from ever getting onto your system.

There is a common myth that spyware, adware, and viruses are these magical, nebulous processes that no one understands. There are a few viruses that are terribly complex, but for the most part these types of malicious processes are simple to prevent and eliminate.

Preventing Malicious Processes from Getting Installed:

Tip #1: Do not download all kinds of random stuff!

For example, it's ok to download a picture (by right clicking it and choosing "Save Picture As") from a website. There is no harm in this, generally. However, downloading screensavers and "free" games and other supposedly free software constantly is not good. It doesn't mean all free stuff is bad, just be careful only to download free programs from sites you trust (big name sites are often a good choice).

It's also ok to open an attachment from a friend you trust, but avoid opening and reading email forwards, especially if they have attachments! Email forwards start with "FW:"-ask friends who send forwards not to send them, as you do not open or read them anyway. Forwards are arguably a waste of time and ones with attachments are not worth the risk.

Tip #2: When downloading and installing a program, don't just click Next or Yes.

When you download and install a program, don't just click Next or Yes when the installation prompts you with options. Uncheck boxes with toolbars and other add-ons that you may not want.

Tip #3: Don't just install things when prompted while surfing the net!

When a website says, "This site wants to install bla bla bla," make sure it's a site you trust and that you REALLY NEED whatever you are trying to access. For example, if you are on a major broadcasting company's site trying to watch a video, it's obviously ok. If you are on some unknown site trying to get something, think twice.

If you weren't trying to get anything at all, definitely click the red X in the corner! Never click Yes or No, just click the Red X. If that doesn't work, press ALT+F4 on your keyboard to close the site!

Eliminating Things Manually:

Tip#1: Stop unneeded processes!

Press CTRL+ALT+DEL (all at once) and see what is running in the Processes tab. See something you don't recognize? Google it. If it's not needed, you'll want to end it by right clicking it and choosing End Process. Do this any time your system acts up. Go through the list and see if anything weird is there, then Google it. (NOTE: Don't end something unless you are sure it is not needed!)

Tip #2: Control what runs when Windows XP starts up!

Click START, go to RUN and type msconfig, then click OK. Choose selective startup, and go to the Startup tab. Anything you don't recognize here? Google it. If it's not necessary, uncheck the box. Go through the whole list and do this, then click OK and restart when you are ready. After rebooting, Windows will remind you that you've chosen selective startup.

Here's more:

If these things don't help, try asking a search engine your question (type your question then press Go or Search). You'll be surprised the other tips you'll find. Once you learn to do these things, you may not need other software to do it for you. You'll save money, plus you'll feel more in control of your computer! Finally, you'll prevent anti-spyware programs and the like from having to run and steal precious CPU and RAM resources (which can slow your system even more!).

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