Tips to Keep Your Computer Virus-Free 

It has never been more important to keep your computer clean and free of viruses. The ways in which we use computers has changed over the years, and so have the threats faced by those devices. While the earliest viruses were bent on the wholesale destruction of data, today’s malware is more likely to steal your data surreptitiously.

That means your personal data could be compromised and you might never even know it. If you are not taking the following steps to keep your computer virus-free, you could be putting your personal information at risk every time you go online.

1. Invest in Good Antivirus Software
If you have a computer, you absolutely must have a quality antivirus program running on it. In fact, setting up the antivirus software should be one of the first things you do when taking a new computer out of the box.  Once the software is in place, make sure it is up and running and set to update frequently.

Setting up a separate anti-spyware program is another way to keep your computer trouble-free. You can safely run antivirus software and anti-spyware software on the same computer, but running two separate antivirus programs at the same time could lead to slow performance and an unstable system.

2. Set Automatic Updates
Your antivirus software will not do you any good if it is outdated. With thousands of new threats emerging every single day, you need to keep your antivirus software up to date. Check the internal settings of the program and make sure it is set to update itself at least once or twice a day. You can set the update times for when you are at work, or even when you are sleeping, to minimize any impact on computer performance.

It is just as important to set automatic updates for your operating system. Keeping your operating system up-to-date is one of the best ways to protect yourself from emerging threats and newly-discovered vulnerabilities.

3. Never Click on Email Links
Many modem viruses come from embedded links in email. The emails you receive, and the links they contain, may seem legitimate enough, but they can contain embedded malware and key-loggers that could steal your personal information and even put your identity at risk.

Check your emails carefully and be wary of questionable links. You can verify the identity of a particular email link by right-clicking and checking its properties. If the actual URL of the link is different from the display name, you could be looking at a scam.

4. Run Frequent Manual Scans
Having quality antivirus software on your computer is not enough. New threats are always emerging, and even the best antivirus software may not catch everything. Running frequent manual scans using different software is one of the best ways to find embedded viruses or malware your other program may have missed.

There are a number of free online virus scanning programs on the market, and running one or two of them on a monthly or biweekly basis is a great way to keep your computer virus-free and your data safe.

5. Avoid Sketchy Websites
When surfing the web it is best to stick to sites you know and trust. Navigating to unfamiliar or unreliable websites could cause problems and even embed viruses in your system.
Porn websites are notorious for hosting spyware and other malicious code, as are sites that offer illegal movie and music downloads. Staying away from those questionable websites is one of the best ways to avoid infection.

6. Do Not Connect Unknown Devices
While most threats these days originate online, you should not ignore the threat posed by thumb drives DVDs and similar hardware. Never conned an unknown or untrusted storage device to your desktop or laptop.

You should thoroughly scan any storage device you do attach, even if it comes from a friend or work associate. The device could have been infected without the user’s knowledge. Be sure to run a full scan on the device itself, and on your entire system to make sure everything is clean.