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University of VictoriaIntroduction to IT English
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Keeping Your Computer Safe

Viruses and other dangerous software can erase your documents, slow your computer, or have other unwanted effects.

You will learn more about viruses and computer security in Unit 9.

You should install three types of software right away to keep your computer safe:

  • Anti-virus software
  • Anti-spyware software
  • Firewall software

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software watches for viruses and erases them. After you install anti-virus software, it will start automatically when you start your computer.

You can get free anti-virus software from the Web pages below. You only need one anti-virus program, so pick whichever one you like best.

Anti-Spyware Software

Anti-spyware software finds and erases programs secretly send information about you over the Internet. Run the anti-spyware software every week to have it check for problems.

You can get free anti-spyware software from the Web pages below.

Firewall Software

Firewall software makes sure your computer does not send messages or receive commands over the Internet without your permission. Firewall software runs automatically when you start your computer.

The Windows and Macintosh OS X operating systems both come with firewalls. To make sure these firewalls are turned on, follow these steps:

  • Windows
    Press the Start button. Choose Settings, Control Panel, Windows Firewall. Press the ON button and choose OK.
  • Macintosh OS X
    Click the System Preferences menu in Finder. Choose Sharing. Press the Firewall tab. Press the Start button.

Other Quick Ways to Keep Your Computer Safe

Keep Your Operating System Up to Date

Your operating system needs to be updated regularly so any mistakes are fixed. These updates may be happening automatically, but if you are not sure, follow the instructions below.

  • Microsoft Windows
    Click the Start Button and choose Windows Update.
  • Mac OS
    Click the Apple menu and choose Software Update.
  • Linux
    Visit the Web page for your type of Linux and follow the instructions there.
Keep Your Software Up to Date

New types of viruses and spyware are discovered every day, so it is very important to use the most recent version of your anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

Check the settings of your anti-virus and anti-spyware program to make sure they download any new versions automatically.

Try a Different Web Browser

Some Web browsers have problems that make it easy for spyware or viruses to get on your computer.

The Firefox Web browser is a safe and free Web browser available for Windows and other common operating systems.

Backup your Files

Save copies of your files onto blank disks, CDs, or removable hard drives. That way, if something happens to your computer, you will still have your files.

E-mailing important documents to another computer or a webmail account is another good way to keep them safe.