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ideas and advice for common tech questions

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Virus Protection Basics

1) Keep your computer software current
Updating your Windows operating system is the first step to giving your computer a fighting chance on the Internet. Go to Start | Help and Support | Windows Update to make sure you are current. One of the most important parts of the update is Internet Explorer. If you are not running version 8 now, your door is open for bad guys. Get that updated.

2) Consider a different browser
If you haven't installed Firefox, consider downloading it and using it as your primary browser. Firefox is not as much a target as Microsoft products and some problems can be avoided by using it over Internet Explorer. Firefox is a free download from

Another option is Google Chrome. It is available as a free download from

3) Virus protection
Viruses often come from people you know or with a subject line you think you can trust. Virus protection programs help sort out the good and the infected.

We recommend Avast Anti-Virus - FREE Home Edition. You need to keep your subscription up to date (usually you get a yearly subscription) and keep your virus definitions up to date. New viruses come out everyday. Virus protection companies figure out how to detect these viruses and fix them - and they update their websites with this information.

4) Back-up your files.
If the files on your computer are valuable to you you should back them up onto a CD, portable hard drive, or another computer. How often should you back up? Ask yourself how many weeks or months of work you are willing to lose should your computer die or get a nasty virus. The backup should include all documents, digital images, email & your address book.

5) Consider a MAC
Finally, you might have noticed that we only mention PCs and Windows here. MACs, so far, tend to have few problems with virus' and are a good choice if you are getting a new machine (and don't mind spending a little extra). The Linux operating system also is more secure than Windows and has the super advantage of being free. We have been testing the Linux desktop (Ubuntu) in our office for a few years and find that the latest version with few exceptions does everything a Windows machine does, better. If you mainly browse the Internet, check your email and produce standard documents, you might consider upgrading to Linux Ubuntu.

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