Computer viruses. Worms. Trojan horses. Spyware. Adware. Malware. Hijackers. Bugs. And spam. All off these computer contaminants will and do hinder your productivity and entertainment on your personal computer. The following are eleven tips to help keep your PC clean:


  1. Get (free) desktop anti-virus software and frequently check for updates.
  2. Get (free) anti-spyware software and frequently check for updates.
  3. Frequently update your operating system.
    Windows users, see Microsoft Windows Update.
  4. Frequently update your software.
    This doesn’t have to be time-consuming. See FileHippo’s Update Checker.

  5. Uninstall unneeded programs.
    This tip is looking right at you, Windows users. Unfortunately, Windows comes pre-packaged with a lot of junk. Revo Uninstaller will help you clean up.
  6. Get (free) registry cleaning software.
    If you install and uninstall with frequency, your computer will get slower and slower. Why? Most uninstall programs do not completely uninstall. Why commit such a deadly sin? Sloth.
  7. Do not use Kazaa.
    It’s amazing to me how many people still use Kazaa. Although advertised with “No spyware”, it does come with bundled malware in its free edition. From Wikipedia:

    Malware installed by Kazaa includes the following:

    * Cydoor (spyware): Collects information on the PC’s surfing habits and passes it on to the company which created Cydoor.
    * B3D (adware): An add-on which causes advertising popups if the PC accesses a website which triggers the B3D code.
    * Altnet (adware): A distribution network for paid “gold” files.
    * The Best Offers (adware): Tracks your browsing habits and internet usage to display advertisements similar to your interests.
    * InstaFinder (hijacker): Redirects your URL typing errors to InstaFinder’s web page instead of the standard search page.
    * TopSearch (adware): Displays paid songs and media related to your search in Kazaa.
    * RX Toolbar (spyware): The toolbar monitors all the sites you visit with Microsoft Internet Explorer and provides links to competitors’ websites.
    * New.net (hijacker): A browser plugin that lets you access several of its own unofficial Top Level Domain names, e.g., .chat and .shop. The main purpose of which is to sell domain names such as www.record.shop which is actually www.record.shop.new.net.

    So, Google your way to free .mp3s, get on IRC, download .torrent files, or even try Limewire. Anything but Kazaa.

  8. Stop using Internet Explorer.
    85% of Internet users browse the Internet using Internet Explorer. So, say you wanted to create a widespread Internet virus… Whom would you target? Exactly. Get Firefox and check out IE Tab.
  9. Stop using Outlook.
    Same reasoning as above. Try Thunderbird instead.
  10. Fall in love with open-source software.
    Open-source software is software developed in a public, collaborative manner. Fewer lines of bad code. Absolutely no malware. And mostly free. See SourceForge. It’s like going to Download.com.
  11. Keep reading.
    In addition to HackCollege, Lifehacker, Download Squad, and Google Tutor are great blogs to keep you on top.

This post is part of the 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas feature.