Congratulations, you got a new PC for Christmas. Or maybe you bought a new one for your business before the end of the year tax season runs out. Either way, do you know what the first thing you should do is? I mean after taking it out of the box, admiring its awesome shine and plugging it in. That’s right, you should make sure the anti-virus software is in place and up-to-date.
If your machine didn’t come with any protective software, or if you don’t like what it came with, there are some great alternatives available for free download. Note that most of these have both free and paid versions. Even if you would like the extra features available from the paid version, I would recommend trying out the free editions first. You may find out that the software doesn’t suit your exact needs or that the free version would do everything you want.
AVG Antivirus – “No-frills protection to meet your basic security needs.” This is the AV software I recommend most often and the one I use on my own machines.
ClamWin – ClamWin is a Free Antivirus program for Microsoft Windows 7 / Vista / XP / Me / 2000 / 98 and Windows Server 2008 and 2003. ClamWin is open source, so you can even get the code behind the product. An excellent product that is constantly updated and monitored by the open source community. There is even a similar product available for the Mac.
Microsoft Security Essentials – “Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.” Microsoft finally started producing security software for Windows, and it is actually quite good. Also, of course, coming from Microsoft it integrates quite well into the Windows environment.
Panda Cloud Antivirus – “Panda Cloud Antivirus detects all viruses cataloged in Panda Security’s Collective Intelligence servers.” The newest of the group. Although I haven’t fully tested it yet, Panda’s other products are excellent. In addition, though PC based, it is in constant connection with the Internet servers to get and provide feedback on threats real time.
Once you have installed and updated the anti-virus software, and only after that, you can start surfing the Internet. Actually, before surfing you should also insure that all the Windows updates have been run, but that is really secondary to the anti-virus protection.
Oh, and don’t forget your backups…