It seems like I am seeing more and more posts on all the boards about virus problems, worms, trojans etc. I thought it might be nice to have a single thread where we can share our thoughts on the best ways to keep your computer safe and keep it clean. It all starts with your network. If you have Cable, DSL or other high speed internet access you should have a firewall. Software firewalls can slow down your computer and cause other issues. Probably the best thing to use is one of the cable/dsl routers put out by D-Link/Linksys/Belkin etc. They are inexpensive and a very good first step. They also allow you to share interent access among several computers. Anti-Virus Software- EVERYONE should have this on their computer. No exceptions unless you don't access the internet or email. Norton seems to be the most popular. Mcaffee works but a lot of people think that it slows their computer down. F-prot works and is cheaper than the others if you are on a budget. Make sure your virus definitions are up to date. Virus software without updated definitions is entirely useless. Anti spyware/adware programs- the 2 best ones are Adaware available in a free version from www.lavasoftusa.com and Spybot also free from http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html The most important thing about these programs is to make sure you update them regularly!! The won't do any good if they are not up to date and both contain updaters that make it easy. A LOT of computer problems would be avoided if people would run these two programs on their computer once per week. Be VERY VERY careful about other anti-spyware software, even stuff that you pay for. Some of them put their own spyware on! These two have been proven clean for years now. If they fail to clean you up there is another program, hijackthis available at http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/ This is an extremely powerful program and you MUST post your results on their forum for interpretation. Misuse of this program can render your computer unusable so I only reccomend it as a last resort before you reload anyway. Pop up blocker- There are several out there, I like the free google toolbar. The DIS/the boards and dreams do NOT use any type of pop up ad. If you see a pop up on one of our sites it is a sign that your computer is infected. Freeware- gator/incredimail/the thing to keep your clock synchronized etc etc etc. Anytime anyone is offering you "free" software chances are very good they are infecting your computer with spyware! If you read the agreement carefully you are giving them permission to do that. Unless you know that something is harmless DON'T allow any free software on your computer. What are some signs that your computer is infected? Pop up ads where there shouldn't be any Very slow performance Your Internet Explorer is "hijacked" and you can't change your home page. Frequent crashes It is very important to check/clean your computer at the FIRST sign of a problem. The longer this stuff is allowed to exist the greater the chance that it will do damage. Spam- NEVER EVER use the unsubscribe link to unsubscribe from spam. By using it you are telling them that this is a valid email address and you can expect to start getting a lot more spam.