Friday, July 3, 2009

Tips To Keep Your PC/Laptop Virus-Free (Or Something Close To That)

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I learned my lesson the hard way.
*a drop of tear
Weeks ago, my Mom and Dad bought me a notebook - or laptop - whichever you prefer.
"Happy me" couldn't hold the excitement.
I transferred all of my personal files from our external hard drive immediately after creating a system restore hard copy into 3 DVDs.
"Reckless me" then erased ALL of my personal files from the external hard drive.
(Diagnosis: Potential for complete loss of photos, music and academic files related to recklessness, secondary to euphoria)
"Excited me" installed MS Office, ESET Nod32, and other necessary software, blogged and blog-hopped 'til the wee hours of the morning.
"Responsible me" went to school during the day.
"Kind me" gave copies of powerpoint presentations from our lecturers to classmates.
"Sigurista me" scanned USB flash disks before opening/exploring.
"Not-so-sigurista me" failed to update ESET Nod32 virus definitions.
Then the THE PROBLEM started.

I was having a YM conference with my SGD (small group discussion) groupmates, when suddenly, an ERROR message popped out of nowhere.
I clicked on the option of finding a solution to the problem, but the error message just kept on popping.
I checked the 'net (from our desktop computer) and googled for possible causes and solutions.
I tried using the task manager, safe mode or any possible way that I could think of.
I tried to gain an access to my files, but it wasn't possible.
The START menu was unclickable, including the toolbar, and the desktop.
All I could do was CONTROL-ALT-DELETE.
Task manager worked for a few minutes.
But whenever I clicked on a folder or file, it would stop responding (clever, clever).
I tried inserting our external hard drive to the port, but nada. Nothing.
"OC me" wouldn't stop looking for a possible solution.
Practical Hester Renel advised me to leave it to the experts.
"Obedient me" admitted that there's nothing that I could do.
I lacked the technical skills.
The next day,
I went to this computer distributor (which will be UNKNOWN for the rest of this entry) at SM.
I told them about my problem and asked for assistance.
They looked at my computer, tinkered with it for an hour, and concluded that they couldn't do anything.
They told me to reinstall Windows, which I would do without a doubt, but only after recovering important files.
They said there was NO WAY that I could do that.
Blah blah blah.
Good thing I went to another store and asked for a second opinion.
They told me that it was possible to remove the hard drive, connect it to another pc, and copy important files from there.
Simple solution. Tsk.
To make the long story short, I was able to recover my files (virus-free) and was able to reinstall Windows Vista.
When I searched the net for a possible cause to my problem, I got two answers.
It could either be a spyware problem OR a Vista bug.
To this day, I have no definite answer.
So anyway, whether the problem was due to a virus/spyware/etc infiltration or to a Vista bug, here are some things that I could have done to prevent a potential loss of files and to keep my laptop and yours, too, virus/spyware/etc free.
  1. Keep your operating system up-to-date. Here's how to update your Windows OS.
  2. Keep your antivirus/anti-spyware up-to-date. Keep it current. Do this at least once a week. Computer virus could spread faster than A(H1N1). Check this out.
  3. Back-up your personal files, programs and settings. Read more about this.
  4. Invest on a good external hard disk. I use Western Digital and Buffalo. You can also try Seagate, or something else. Ask a friend, a neighbor, or a computer expert. Click to learn more about this.
  5. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don't know, or from someone you know, unless you are aware of the content. This also includes photos and links from your friends in Yahoo Messenger. If it looks suspicious, click x on the upper right portion. Ignore.
  6. Be careful when inserting anything into your USB port. That teeny-tiny hamburger-shaped flash disk could ruin 21 years worth of memories. Make it a habit to scan before exploring. Disable autorun.
  7. Learn more about viruses, trojans, worms and the like. Start from here.
  8. Scan, scan, scan. Do a full scan at least once a week. Scan your Downloads folder before opening anything.
  9. Be careful with torrents. Read comments. There will always be a good soul who will warn you about possible spywares, etc.
  10. Lastly, make friends with an expert. Knowing somebody who's tech savvy is just like having a good, professional relationship with your doctor. It's never too late to make friends! *laughs
 These tips are just a few of the things that each one of us must remember.
Windows Vista bug or not,
always keep these in mind.
It's better to be safe than sorry.