Keeping Your PC Virus-Free and Optimized
A few simple tips to keep your PC virus free.
1. Install An Anti-Virus - The most common protection; Anti-Virus Software. One would want to choose one that is light-weight and has a great detection rate. If you're willing to pay for an anti-virus, I'd recommend ESET Anti-Virus or Smart Security, very light and good at doing its job. If you're looking for something free, there's AVG Free which is pretty good.
2. Keep Up-to Date - Updates is another simple but important thing to remember. Updates usually bring new features and improvements. Operating Systems can easily be operated by running their included program. For example, Windows has Windows Update.
3. Install a Link-Scanner - Visiting the wrong sites could always give you a virus, that's why I'd recommend having a link scanner. For those who don't what it is or what it does, its basically an add-on for your Internet browser which 'scans' sites. It will display a green check mark if the site is safe or a red 'x' if unsafe. Some Anti-Viruses come with a link scanner such as AVG. If you don't have one, I'd recommend McAfee Site Advisor. A nice free link scanner.
4. Install a Cleaning Tool - After a while, your PC can be become filled with junk or unused files. Cleaning them can easily be done with some tools. These should help free some memory and speed up your computer. An excellent, free tool that I'd recommend is CCleaner, you could also check out features here. Although you don't need to do this often (e.g, everyday) Its good to establish the habit.
5. Defrag Drive - Defragging your Hard Drive can be good to do but again, it isn't something you'll need to do daily or weekly. You can read about it here. A free, easy and good defragging tool is Defraggler. It can be found here. If you want to check out some features, look here
6. Extra Anti-Malware Software - Although Anti-Virus software and link scanners usually can keep you safe. It's a fact, they can't stop everything. That's why I'd recommend Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This is another free tool which basically does similar to an anti-virus (scan and clean) but has, in my opinion, a higher detection rate. This however does NOT provide you with realtime (24/7) protection so you should stop it from running at start-up. Its a good tool to run occasionally. You'd be suprised sometimes, I've had a friend who had an Anti-Virus and Link Scanner, said his PC was clean just acting slow. I scanned it with Malwarebytes, finding and removing 120 infections.
7. Stop Useless Programs From Running At Start-Up - Sometimes, Computers can take forever to load up. This can be caused by lots of installed programs running at startup. You can change this by (in Windows), going to Run in the start menu. Type msconfig and hit enter. It should bring up a window, In the 'Startup' tab, uncheck items to prevent them from starting up, just be careful what you disable! Once done, press 'OK' and reboot.
8. Optimize Boot Performance (WinXP ONLY!) - A tool called BootVis allows Windows XP users to optimize boot time. It can be downloaded here. A tutorial on using BootVis can be found here. Remember, BootVis isn't some one click fix but using it along with the other listed tips will help.
9. Send files to VirusTotal - When in doubt about a file, there's always VirusTotal. There are some cases when a harmless file may be seen as harmful by an anti-virus. If you think the report by the anti-virus is a false positive, you could always upload the file to Virus-Total. VirusTotal is an online free service which allows you to upload a file and automatically scans it with over 40 top brand anti-viruses and then gives you the results. Check out VirusTotal here
Or if you don't want to go through most of that, you could follow messie's advice and install Linux.