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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. Click on the Start button in the lower left corner, type Update, click Windows Update, select check for updates. Once that is done, make sure to enable automatic updates.

2) Consider a different browser
If you haven't installed Firefox, consider downloading it and using it as your primary browser. Firefox is a free download from www.mozilla.com. Firefox is not as much a target as Microsoft products and some problems can be avoided by using it. If you are still using Internet Explorer, stop. It's too risky. Microsoft Edge is the new default browser on Windows 10. Another option is Google Chrome. It is available as a free download from www.google.com.

3) Virus/Malware 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 coupled with Malwarebytes. You need to keep your subscriptions 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 external hard drive, another computer or removable USB flash drive. 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. To learn more about backing up your system, google "how to backup my pc" or "how to back up my mac".

5) Consider a Mac or Linux OS by Ubuntu
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.

6) Create Better Passwords Often
Services get hacked all the time. If you are using the same password for everything, it only takes one hacked account for the bad guys to get access to ALL of your accounts. Check the strength of your passwords here. If you need help creating a new password, try a password generator tool.

7) Email Safety
Don't open email from people you don't know. Don't click on links in emails you don't trust. Watch for phishing scams. These emails may look legitimate but are actually a scam. If anyone asks you for private information including passwords/personal info via email, call to verify it is legitimate and provide it verbally. Things to watch for: public email domains, misspelled domain names, bad grammar/spelling, suspicious links/attachments, and a sense of urgency.


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