All very good information to have. Having recently had a virus problem that had to be resolved professionally, I can say that one can never be too careful. It came as a surprise that, given I'm very cautious, I got a virus anyhow. So a few pointers from the experience...
1. You do NOT want two different antivirus programs running at the same time. This can generate false positives as well as conflicts between the two programs. One may allow malicious software through that the other would not. For those who don't know what a false positive is, that's when security software erroneously identifies a harmless file or program as a virus or malware. As an example, Lavasoft AdAware has (despite updates that should have resolved it) repeatedly identified GrandFantasia.exe as a worm.
2. With the previous example in mind, it's important to find software that works for your specific needs. Personally I can recommend Norton/Symantec products and services from positive experience, and my sister can say the same for Avira. Once you have one that works for you, make good use of it.
3. Scope out a website, service, or program before making use of it. There are many ways to do this, including a website analysis service from Norton
. It's important to note that sometimes the best gauge of the actual threat level is reading comments by other users. Additionally you can Google a program and see what turns up, it's an easy way to see if something's legit or not.
4. For those not using Firefox and its ad-block utility, be aware that viruses can attach themselves to advertisements in websites. You don't even have to do anything for malicious software to download itself into your machine in these instances, but there are several ways to help prevent this. Consider making use of passive protection. An example of free passive protection for your web browser is the Immunize feature of Spybot S&D. As the name suggests, this feature immunizes your browsers (Firefox and Internet Explorer) from a series of known risks.
5. Whenever you're done with your online activities for the day, perform a Disk Cleanup. To do this, click on Computer. Then right-click your C drive. The name may vary but by default, you will see (C:) at the end. From the dropdown menu, select properties. You will then see a small screen that displays information like disk space used. Here, you will also find a button that says Disk Cleanup. Click this and let the utility load, after which you will get a list of possible areas to perform cleanup in. Be sure the following are checked:
- Recycle Bin
- Downloaded Program Files
- Temporary Internet Files
- Temporary Files
- Offline Webpages
This was recommended to me by the technician. It's not uncommon for infected files to find their way to some of these places first.
6. Lastly, perform virus and malware scans with whatever programs you have before restarting or shutting down your PC. Viruses propagate when your system's defenses are down, which means if left unchecked a small problem can get a whole lot worse.
Hope these things are helpful.