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How to Prevent a Computer Virus

published 10/31/2022

A computer virus isn't like the cold. Nearly 20% of computers experience at least one malware attack over the course of a year. A computer virus can steal your information, shut down your device, and cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Yet the overwhelming majority of viruses are preventable. You can take a few simple steps to prevent a virus and stop a situation from getting worse.

What software should you download? How can you keep your personal details away from hackers? What are the signs that you have a computer virus?

Answer these questions and you can keep your computer clean and intact for years to come. Here is your quick guide.

Download Antivirus Software

The best way to prevent a virus is to download antivirus software. You can find many types of software, each with its own features. Find one that is specifically for your operating system and type of computer.

Only install one software on your computer, as multiple pieces of software can interfere with each other. If you want another software, delete your old software and then install the new one. You can also update your software so you have a new version of it.

Enable your system to update automatically. You can schedule the updates to occur at a time when your computer is not being used.

You should also run antivirus scans on your computers at least once a week. Run it at night, as running it while you are using your computer can cause computer problems.

Some hackers create malware that they market as antivirus software. Malware will cause a computer issue like damage to your hard drive. Never download antivirus programs until you've read customer reviews and know it is legitimate.

Update Your Operating System

One reason why developers regularly make updates to operating systems is computer viruses. New operating systems are designed to fight new viruses, and they can offer more protection against old ones.

Update your operating system every time a new version of it comes on the market. As with your antivirus software, you can enable updates when you are not using the computer.

Do not download a "new version" of your operating system you see in a banner ad or in an email attachment. Hackers send viruses to victims that masquerade as new versions of operating systems. Never download a file from a banner ad or an email you don't recognize.

Secure Your Passwords

If your password gets leaked, a hacker can use it to steal your information and download a virus on your account or device. Never tell anyone what your password is, even if they seem legitimate.

Do not use the same password for two or more accounts. If you're worried you will forget your passwords, you can use a password manager to keep track of them.

The longer your password is, the harder it is to crack. You can create long passwords by using code phrases.

Pick a sentence you can remember, select the first letter of each word, and add numbers and special characters along the way. "Drink me, make me feel real, wet your beak in the stream" can be "Dm,MM3Fr;WYbITs!1997."

Do not use your personal information in your password. Your pet's name or your birthday is easy for a hacker to guess or obtain from your social media page.

Be Careful With Unsecured Wi-Fi

Many hackers get access to people's devices through unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Never use the free Wi-Fi networks that airports, libraries, and other institutions offer.

You can access Wi-Fi through a portable router you pack in your bag. You can also create a hot spot with your smartphone and then search the internet on your laptop or tablet device.

If you must use an unsecured Wi-Fi network, use it briefly. Do not log into any accounts or send personal information to anyone. Sit with your back to the wall so someone cannot look at your screen.

Be Careful on the Internet

Any link you click on can download a virus onto your computer. Hover your mouse over the link so you can look at the URL. If you don't recognize the website, you should not click on it.

As a page is loading, you should take a look at the address bar. If you are being redirected to a page you don't trust, you should close the window immediately. Run a virus scan to make sure a virus is not on your device.

Use a browser like Google Chrome that will tell you if a page is not secure. Do not use Internet Explorer or other browsers that are out of date.

Recognize the Signs of a Computer Virus

The signs of an infected computer may be subtle. Your computer may become sluggish, struggling to load pages or download updates to pre-existing software. It may crash on a regular basis.

You may notice unusual pop-up windows or links in the middle of articles. These links may take you to websites that download programs on your computer or host adult and dangerous content.

Stop using your device if you notice these signs. Call a computer repair technician who can remove the virus from your computer.

Protect Your Computer From a Computer Virus

You can keep a computer virus at bay with antivirus software, but you must keep the software updated. As an extra layer of protection, you should use modern operating systems and browsers.

Do not give your personal information out online, especially your passwords. Never use an unsecured Wi-Fi network or click on links you don't recognize. When your computer lags or crashes on a regular basis, you should get it checked out.

Find someone in your area with experience in removing viruses. Data Doctors serves computer users throughout the United States. Find a location near you today.