This is a really big question and one I get fairly often. So, I decided to Blog about it so that I don’t have to re-write this answer so often. (I’m basically lazy!)
First of all let me state clearly THERE IS NO ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY 100% EFFECTIVE ANTI-VIRUS SOLUTION.
The only sure way to protect your PC from infection is abstinence. What? That’s right, never ever get on the Internet and never ever allow anyone to stick anything in your PC. (OK, you can quit laughing now.)
Ok, so that isn’t realistic. So, I’ll list some alternatives:
Install a Windows Home Server and add all your PC’s and laptops to the network. If your system gets trashed it is a very simple matter to restore an IMAGE. Yes, an IMAGE of your computer is updated every night and you can “time travel” back to the day before. It completely reinstalls EVERYTHING. It will be as though nothing ever happened to your PC. (We can install this type of server in your house or small office for less than $1,000 including hardware and labor and it can keep an image of up to five (5) PC’s.) (You will still need some type of anti-malicious software system to scan each night.)
You could install a (NAS) Networked Attached Storage Device in your home or small office and have ALL data files, i.e. music, photos, MS Office documents, financial data etc., stored on the NAS. Then install MS SteadyState on your PC’s and laptops. Then you don’t even have to install or run any protection because every time you reboot your PC it goes back to the way it was. This solution can be a bit of a hassle though because you have to turn off steadystate every time you want to make a change to your PC and then remember to turn it back on. (Solution number 1 above is a better solution.)
If neither of the above solutions sound like something you want to do then we have found the following to be mostly effective. And you must do all of them:
- Install ClamWin and configure it to update and scan daily. Also, set it to automatically quarantine any suspected file. This software is completely free and legal. http://www.clamwin.org
- Install and accept all the defaults for MS Home Defender. Again, free and legal.
- Install and run Malware Bytes. They have both a free and paid version. http://www.malwarebytes.org/index.php
- Be sure your Windows Firewall is on, unless you have a router. Modern routers include Firewall protection.
- Install all Microsoft updates and patches including Internet Explorer 8. (Just running Firefox is not a guarantee against infection.)
If you would like our assistance, of course we are available.
Dennis “The Computer Guy” Wilson