Virus Protection for PCs
© copyright 2001-2004 by Gerhard Ruf
updated 22 April 2004
The work you do on your computer is valuable to you and
to your family. There are many dangers that can result in data loss.
The most important thing you can do to protect the information you cannot
afford to loose is regularly back it up. Computer viruses are a significant
hazard. If you receive digital information by diskette, CD, over the Internet,
or by any other method, you are at risk.
- Why backup?
- If you end up adding data accidentally that you didn't want, like when
- Instead of deleting all of the changes, just go to the last backup.
- If you accidentally delete a file or database, just restore it from
- If you back up a file that has corruption in it, you need to go to the
- Hard disk failure
- Viruses can infect your files
- What to backup
- Only back up the things you cannot afford to loose!!
(Some people are pack rats that save everything.)
- No need to backup your programs, just the files they produce
(You can always reinstall the program - if you
keep installation CDs/diskettes.)
- Place the files into one major folder with sections for all your
programs or know the locations where the important files are kept.
- Word processing data, (Journal, letters, family stories, etc.)
genealogical data, Email
- How to backup
- Make sure you have a startup diskette
- copy selected files to floppy disk
- tape backup
- CD-RW backup
- ZIP or JAZZ (or equivalent) Drive
- backup over your network to another PC
- off site backup (safety deposit box at the bank, or in your own
fireproof safe) is the ONLY sure protection from fire
If you store data for longer terms, make sure you store a copy of
the program too.
- share files periodically with family members
- send files to some internet sites that will store it for you
- Most Internet Service Providers provide from 5 to 100 Meg space
- I send my family history data periodically to WorldConnect
- make multiple backups (at least 3 or 4)
- What if your computer fails during a backup?
- What if the data you are backing up has been corrupted?
- write the date on the backup medium (diskette, CD, etc.)
- use the backup copy with the oldest date for the next
- Software or Programs to do backup
- Use the backup program that comes with your ZIP, tape or
CD-R/RW drive (Nero, Roxio, etc)
- Some virus scanning programs, like
McAfee, also have a file protection feature
- Use a compression program, like
WinZip, that will span disks
- Use a special program purchased for backing up
- Use the Copy/Paste Feature for specific file, folders, or
groups of files and folders
- Special Considerations
- In a business, files are backed up every night
(You never loose more than one day of work.)
- Backup your genealogical data every time you modify existing
- Use your program's backup option regularly. Take the time
- Virus Overview
- More than 67,000 known computer viruses
- New ones are being produced at rate of 300 per month
- There are also many virus hoaxes - check them out before passing
them on (Hoaxes can cause you to damage your computer!)
- The vast majority of viruses infect PCs
- There are only a few MAC viruses
- A few viruses infect both PC and MAC applications.
- What is a Computer Virus?
- A virus is a program that is able to replicate (possibly modified)
copies of itself.
- The replication is intentional, not just a side-effect.
- A virus has to attach itself to a "host", usually an executable
file, or macro.
(.EXE, .COM, .BAT, .PIF are executable files)
Don't expect to recognize viruses by their filename
extensions (also called file types). The default setting in
Windows is to hide file extensions (also called types) for those
that are recognized by the installed programs.
- A Trojan is a program that pretends to do something useful, but
has harmful effects.
- What could a virus do?
- scrambling your FAT (File Allocation Table)
- reformatting the hard drive/disk (erases data, programs and operating system)
- destroy, delete, or modify programs or data
- delay its execution to a specific date or for a length of time
- a few may act harmlessly, but are still a nuisance
- stealth viruses modify themselves and are difficult to detect
- Boot Sector Viruses infect diskettes just by their being inserted
into the drive
- Program viruses infect executable programs, overlay and object files
- Macro viruses infect word processor or spreadsheet documents
- viruses may delete files on networked drives on other computers
- How are viruses spread?
- inserting a diskette into a machine
- downloading an infected file from a bulletin board or from the
- receiving an attachment via email
- How can I protect myself from viruses?
- MAKE REGULAR BACKUPS - the ONLY sure protection
- Never boot a computer from a diskette unless you KNOW it to be
- Keep your diskettes write protected
- Be suspicious of software from even reputable companies
- Download programs from reputable web sites
- Use a good resident virus scanning program - KEEP IT CURRENT
- Check all new software for viruses before you install it
- Always have a clean system diskette available for booting your
- Don't open unexpected email attachments even from a known source
- No single virus program recognizes all viruses. The most common programs are
Norton AntiVirus by Symantec
McAfee Antivirus by Network Associates
- Whichever one you use, also use another manufacturer's free online scanning service periodically
click on Scan Now in Free Tools (bootom left of screen)
click on Symantec Security Check, and then click on Go
- Check out specific viruses and how to clean the ones that can't be cleaned automatically at
AVP Virus Encyclopedia
DataFellows F-Secure Computer Virus Info Center
McAfee Virus Information Library
- Don't pass on virus hoaxes or urban legends. Check them out at
Computer Incident Advisory Capability
McAfee Virus Hoaxes
Symantec Virus Hoaxes
The AFU & Urban Legends Archive
Urban Legends and Folklore
FINAL WARNING - PROTECT YOURSELF
It's not a question of, IF it will happen to you, but WHEN it will happen.
- Resolve to do regular backups
- Create a Startup Diskette
(Start/Settings/Control Panel/Add-Remove Programs/Startup Disk Tab)
- Purchase Virus Scanning software
- Install a virus scanning program software and update it regularly
- Don't pass on virus hoaxes or urban legends
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