Your computer contains parts of your life. Everything you do is tied up in it somehow. You must protect it.

Hackers can be real dicks. They exploit malicious code. This malicious code can get into your computer. Depending on how adept the hacker is this code could make your computer sniffle. Or cough. Or die a horrific, painful death puking your most sensitive material all over the Internet.

Thankfully there are an abundance of tools out there to keep your machine well protected. Here are six ways to protect your computer for free.

Avoid Using Internet Explorer

This is a web browser program that comes installed on any PC with a Microsoft-based operating system. It’s better now than it used to be, but you have Firefox and Chrome available to you. Use those instead.

Avast

Avast is the most powerful, easiest to use and least obtrusive anti-virus program out there. It also happens to be free. You can get a pay version which has more bells and whistles, but the free version works quite well. AVG is also free, but it’s not as powerful or functional as Avast. If you want to pay money and slow your computer down at the same time use McAfee or Norton.

NoScript

A script is a program that runs on a computer. When embedded in websites they make them look pretty and fun. All the colorful lights and flashy moving pictures? They are enabled with scripts. Most every website has them.

Some scripts are poorly made and can affect your computer. Others are straight up malicious. Installing NoScript to your web browser lets you choose which websites’ scripts can run on your machine. It takes some getting used to, but once you do your favorite websites will run more smoothly.

Spybot

Even with the use of anti-virus software and NoScript some sites can still sneak little bits of obnoxious code called ‘adware’ onto your computer that could, sometimes, damage it. Spybot will find them and kill them. Adaware is another program that does what Spybot can. If you want to be extra safe, get both. But just getting Spybot is plenty useful for protecting your computer from adware.

WARNING: If you get both Spybot and Adaware do not ever ever EVER let them run at the same time. They hate each other with the fire of a thousand suns and could seriously damage your machine.

Dropbox

After all that protection and care some jerkface manages to take your computer? You have help there as well. Dropbox can be used to track your computer in case of theft.

Prey

Though Dropbox is effective, you can never have enough protection for your computer. Especially against theft. Even more so if it’s free. Prey is a free program that you can install on your phone, tablet or computer that tracks the machine in case of theft. There are other programs like Hidden for Macs and Lookout for phones, but few of them work over as many devices as Prey…for free.

If you want to use it for more than three devices you can start paying on the cheap. But for most folks the free version will work quite well.