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Computer Stuff FAQ

I receive many questions from friends and family about using the internet and computers in general. I don't mind answering them, but since the same questions do come up frequently, this is the easiest way to answer them. Some of it is also intended as reassurance, because many people are unduly intimidated by computers and the internet. I use Windows for the most part at home, so the resources I list here are definitely slanted towards that platform.

Please Read This, At Least

If you're reading this, you're on the net, right? And that means that you should be aware of and protecting yourself against certain risks. Just as you need more immunizations when traveling in certain areas of the world than you do if you're just hanging around your hometown, you need to be more aware of security and antivirus protection if you have your computer connected to the net than you did when you just used it for word processing and games.

Acquire an antivirus program. Install it, configure it, and keep it updated regularly—I suggest daily updates at the very least if you're a heavy internet user. If you download a lot of files - especially if you get into warez—be even more careful.

If you have a broadband connection (cable modem, ISDN or DSL), you need both a hardware and a software firewall (go try Shields Up to see how vulnerable you are). Today I use a combination of Kaspersky and Malwarebytes on our PCs along with a couple of other tools. We regularly have strangers sniffing at our firewall with various trojans, but they didn't get through.

If you want more information, read some of this:

While we're talking about viruses, don't bother forwarding virus alerts. Any of them. Or any other email that includes pleas for you to forward it to lots of other people.