How can I help protect my computer from viruses?


Protecting your computer from viruses and other threats isn't difficult, but you have to be diligent.

  • Install an antivirus program. Installing an antivirus program and keeping it up-to-date can help defend your computer against viruses. Antivirus programs scan for viruses trying to get into your email, operating system, or files. New viruses can appear daily, so check the antivirus manufacturer's website frequently for updates. Some antivirus programs are sold with annual subscriptions that can be renewed as needed, but many are also available for free. Microsoft offers Microsoft Security Essentials, a free antivirus program you can download from the Microsoft Security Essentials website. You can also visit the Windows Security software providers webpage to find a third-party antivirus program.

  • Don't open email messages from unfamiliar senders, or email attachments that you don't recognize. Many viruses are attached to email messages and will spread as soon as you open the email attachment. It's best not to open any attachment unless it is something you are expecting. Microsoft‌ Outlook and Windows Mail help block potentially dangerous attachments.

  • Use a pop-up blocker with your browser. Pop-up windows are small browser windows that appear on top of the website you're viewing. Although most are created by advertisers, they can also contain malicious or unsafe code. A pop-up blocker can prevent some or all of these windows from appearing.

    The Pop-up Blocker feature in Internet Explorer is turned on by default. To learn more about changing its settings or turning it on and off, see Internet Explorer Pop-up Blocker: frequently asked questions.

  • Keep Windows updated. Periodically, Microsoft releases special security updates that can help protect your computer. These updates can help prevent viruses and other computer attacks by closing possible security holes. Make sure that Windows receives these updates by turning on Windows automatic updating. To learn how, see Turn automatic updating on or off.

  • Use a firewall.‌ Windows Firewall or any other firewall program can help alert you to suspicious activity if a virus or worm attempts to connect to your computer. It can also block viruses, worms, and hackers from attempting to download potentially harmful programs to your computer. To learn more about Windows Firewall, see Understanding Windows Firewall settings.

  • Use your browser's privacy settings. Being aware of how websites might use your private information is important to help prevent targeted advertising, fraud, and identity theft. If you're using Internet Explorer, you can adjust your Privacy settings or restore the default settings whenever you want. For details, see Change Internet Explorer Privacy settings.

  • Turn on User Account Control (UAC). When changes are going to be made to your computer that require administrator-level permission, UAC notifies you and gives you the opportunity to approve the change. UAC can help keep viruses from making unwanted changes. To learn more about enabling UAC and adjusting the settings, see Turn User Account Control on or off.

  • Clear your Internet cache and your browsing history. Most browsers store information about the websites you visit, and information that websites might ask you to provide (such as your name and address). While it can be helpful to have these details stored on your computer, there are times when you might want to delete some or all of them, for example when you're using a public computer and don't want to leave personal information behind. To learn how to clean up your history in Internet Explorer, see Delete webpage history and Delete your Internet cookies.



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