THIS IS AN OLD POST, this was written in 2008. there is better information out there. Still, back up your shit. Seriously. No one, not Dell, not Apple or Microsoft, not Google not Best Buy, no one NO ONE but you are responsible for your digital belongings. Your pictures, your music, your documents and emails, all of these things are yours, and you need to be proactive in keeping them safe.
If you use a Windows computer you need to protect it from the internet. The following is by no means intended to be an end-all be all list. Nor is it one that will last forever. See the date of this post? If it has been longer than a year, I’d do some research to make sure these are still good solutions. Computer technologies don’t stop.
Firefox: (mozilla.com) Web Browser. The best thing you can do for your computer is not use Internet Explorer. Most viruses/ad/spyware comes in to your machine using exploits through IE. This is _not_ to say that Firefox is immune to this, or that this is the only way to be infected. This is a simple first step at protecting your machine.
AVG (Grisoft.com) Anti-virus. High quality, it will scan your system, scan incomming email and help clean and quarrentine infected files.
Adaware (lavasoftusa.com) Free. This removes ad/spyware from your computer. You know that random pop-up window that appears when you aren’t even in Internet Explorer? this will help with that.
Spybot Seek and Destroy (safer-networking.org) Search and Destroy () Free, use with adaware. Where Adaware shines with adware, spybot shines with spyware. Spyware is used to collect information from your computer and send it to another computer. This is usually bad.
Backup, backup, for the love of all that is holy, backup!
caveat emptor! Becareful of what you download! Where did you find it? Is the site reliable? Has the software been reviewed on other sites? Check these things out. A bad software download can cripple your machine.
Seriously. Back up. Get an external hard drive. Get a thumb drive. Burn CD’s or DVD’s. Print them out! Imagine this, if i came in and took a hammer to your hard drive, what would you lose? what would you need? Now take those things and back them up.
I am a Mac user. The luxury of that at this time is I don’t need any of these things. Linux too provides more security than a Windows machine. The trade-off? You would need to learn a new operating system. Not all your software can be found (and most would need to be repurchased).