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Chapter 28. Getting a Good Night's Sleep... > Protecting Your System from Computer... - Pg. 330

Getting a Good Night's Sleep: Preparing for Trouble 7. Click OK. 330 Protecting Your System from Computer Viruses Viruses are nasty little programs that live for the sheer thrill of trashing your valuable data. They're crafted in dank basements by repressed, pimple-faced, Jolt Cola­fueled deviants--programming wizards who've succumbed to the dark side of the Force. These amoral hackers like to muddy the waters by describing their wicked offspring as "self-propagating, autonomous computer programs" and giving them innocent-sounding names such as Michelangelo and Christmas. But don't be fooled: these small slices of evil can do irreparable harm to your files. (Just so you know, many viruses have names that more directly reflect their intentions. These include Armageddon, Beast, Black Monday, Dark Avenger, and Darth Vader.) Although virus infections are, fortunately, still relatively rare, they do happen. Note, however, that there is no specific Windows XP feature that can protect your from and eradicate viruses. So the first thing you should do after you finish this section is run out and buy yourself a copy of a good anti-virus program. Utilities such as Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee VirusScan can monitor your sys- tem full-time to protect you from viruses. They also include update programs that can keep you protected from the hundreds of new viruses that crawl out of the digital woodwork every year. Besides getting yourself a top-notch anti-virus program, here are a few other tips to help keep your system disease-free: · These days, most viruses are transmitted via file downloads from the Internet, an online service, or a network connection. Set up a special folder for downloads and always click the Save button to save downloaded files to this folder. Then use your anti-virus program to scan this folder every time you download a file. · The second leading cause of viral infections is the lowly floppy disk, so you should always be careful about which used disks you trust in your computer. If you've inherited some old disks, you can make sure there are no viruses lurking in the weeds by formatting all the disks before you use them. · Trust no one when it comes to loading programs on your machine. Whether they come from family, friends, the Internet, or an online bulletin board, use your anti-virus program to scan the files before using them on your hard disk. · If you get an e-mail message with a file attachment, delete it immediately if it comes from a stranger. If it comes from someone you know, contact that person and ask her if she sent you a file. (Many viruses propagate by surreptitiously sending copies of themselves to the people in an infected user's address book.) · Make sure you've set up Outlook Express with the maximum protection. Select Tools, Op- tions, display the Security tab, and activate the Restricted sites zone option. Also, activate the Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus check box. · Keep your anti-virus program's virus list up to date. As you read this, there are probably dozens, maybe even hundreds, of morally challenged scumnerds designing even nastier viruses. Reg- ular updates will help you keep up. Backing Up Your Precious Data with Windows XP Professional Other than a few people who insist on living in It-Can't-Happen-to-Me Land, I think most folks get the "why" part of backing up. They just don't get the "how" part. That is, they'd like to run backups, but it's such a time-consuming chore so it just doesn't seem worth the hassle. "Sorry, I'd like to do a backup, but I have to call the IRS to schedule an audit."