I had a conversation with a client last week regarding a new laptop. She asked me my opinion about replacing a laptop that had been stolen. This was to be her personal laptop, and corporate standards didn’t really come into play. She could get anything she wanted. When digging further, it seems she is still scarred from a virus incident she experienced last year which rendered her computer completely unusable for a week and was extremely difficult to remove. “Get a mac” I told her. “But I don’t know anything about macs” was her immediate response. In truth, it’s much easier said than done. Take everything you’ve known for possibly your entire computing life, and just jump in to something new. There are programs that don’t necessarily translate directly to a Mac equivalent. Quicken users have long bemoaned that the Mac version gets short shrift when compared to the Windows version. So, what to do when you’re knowledgeable and comfortable with your Windows based PC, but scared to death of getting a virus?
There are 2 main ways a virus can make its way onto your PC. Via email, and via browsing the web. Hopefully, you’ve got an email solution that includes some amount of spam and virus filtering. To tackle the second problem, I recommend you pick a different program to do your web browsing. What it will do is decrease the ability for virus to get on your computer. Many of the Windows and IE specific exploits are used and unknowingly bring down yuckiness onto your computer. You’ll still need antivirus software, but it won’t have to work as hard. Instead of clicking instinctively on the blue E, learn to use a different program. I’ve been using 2 non Internet Explorer browsers almost exclusively for nearly a year and have not run into any problems. I continue to purchase online the way I always have, and all banking institutions I use have operated without a problem. Nearly all websites look and load without any problems, and if you run into a site that just won’t work right, you can always switch over to IE just for that site.
I recommend using either Firefox or Google’s Chrome . Both of these browsers offer common features such as bookmarks/favorites and tabbed browsing. Both support flash and shockwave based sites and browsing the web just isn’t all that different in these browsers. It’s important to actually make one of these alternate browsers the default browser for your machine. Another plus is if you DO get a mac, there are versions of Firefox and Chrome for the Mac platform so you won’t have to learn yet another interface. Some might advocate for Safari, the default and included browser for the Mac. Yes, there is a Windows version, and it runs well enough on a Mac, but in my experience it doesn’t run all that well on Windows.
Some last tips on keeping your computers virus free.
- Everytime Adobe tells you there’s an update. Do it. Period.
- If you get a window on the screen that you don’t recognize and it says you’ve got 150 viruses and you better click here now to get rid of them, DON’T CLICK. It’s a very, very, VERY good fake. Look very carefully for the X in the top right corner and click to close. If you’re not sure, just shutdown your PC w/o clicking anything. Then when your PC comes back up, don’t go back to whatever website you were on when that popped up.
If you’d like to read more about it, search on alternative browsers and/or check out this site. http://alternativebrowseralliance.com
Until next time.