Posts Tagged ‘ viruses ’

Free Tools to Spring Clean Your PC to Optimize Performance

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Just as a cluttered home makes it hard to find what you need, a disaster of a desktop on your computer can also hamper productivity.  Over time, extra files and information about your computer’s programs and activities can slow your machine to a crawl.  This spring clean up your PC by taking these easy steps:

Scan for viruses.  BitDefender QuickScan is a free online virus scanner that looks for malware such as Trojan horses, viruses, worms, and spyware that installs itself with the intent of damaging your computer while you use it.  Running QuickScan helps determine what viruses your computer has and will fix them for free.

Install a program to declutter and remove and errors to keep your PC running at its optimal speed.  Programs like ChicaLogic’s Chica-PC Fix offer a free scan through their website.

Secure your computer against viruses and hackers.  AVG offers free trials of their Anti-Virus program to protect your computer against viruses and spyware while you’re browsing online or on social networking sites.  While you’re on the AVG site, get a 30 day trial of their Internet Security to keep your personal information safe from hackers and spammers.

Back up your computer.  Now that you’ve cleaned up your computer to speed up performance and armed it with software to keep it operational, back up your data. Often times we don’t think about our data until it’s too late.  By backing up your data, you won’t have to worry about your files when your malware-infested computer is on the verge of the blue screen of death. Having a backup allows peace of mind. You never have to worry about a potential system crash or losing your files and photos in the case of theft. Carbonite offers secure automatic online backup that you can try for your home or business for free for 15 days.  Automatic backup is wonderful because it allows you to set a time for your computer to backup so you never have to remember to do so.  I often run mine in the middle of the night or at a time where I know I won’t be working on my computer to ensure that I always have a backup of all the files on my computer.

Miniature maids or cleaning women on a laptop computer via Shutterstock

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Malware 101

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Malware. Chances are you’ve heard about it in the forms of viruses and spyware but what is it and why exactly is it so bad for your computer?  Things like Trojan horses, viruses, worms, and spyware are created with the sole intent of damaging your computer.  Over time, malware can take over your computer, making it sluggish and hampering its performance.  If you’ve ever noticed that it takes a long time for files to load or your web browser seems to take forever to load a site, it could be the result of malware.

Here’s a quick rundown on the 4 most common forms of malware and how they can negatively affect your computer:

Trojan Horses get their name from Greek mythology and their deceptive nature. In the case of computer related Trojan Horses, they’re applications that might not be what it appears. Trojan Horses install themselves on your computer by clicking on a legitimate looking piece of software, an online game, or even antivirus software. Clicking on a Trojan Horse will automatically cause it to run, often erasing your hard drive in the process.

Worms are invisible files that make their way through the memory on your machine, multiplying as they go. As worms multiply, they occupy more and more of your computer’s memory and space on your hard drive. They are a form of computer virus that makes your machine sluggish.

Spyware watches as you use your computer and works to capture usernames and passwords and credit card information. This information is often sent to spyware creators over the internet who use your data as a way to make money. Like worms and viruses, spyware often comes through email attachments.  To prevent spyware from running, avoid clicking on anything suspicious.

Viruses are computer scripts that are often attached to email attachments. If an email from a friend has a strange looking subject line and contains an attachment, opening that attachment will unleash the virus on to your computer.  Viruses run silently in the background and often create, move, or erase files. They’re also memory hogs that can slow the speed of your computer, making it impossible to multitask.

How do you protect yourself and your computer against malware?  Installing antivirus software, such as the free Microsoft Security Essentials, is the first line of defense.  If you purchase antivirus software, be aware that the licenses expire so ensure that your license is current and active so it can continue to protect your PC.

Virus disaster via Shutterstock

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