How to almost never get a virus (for bas1c n00bs)

By bewbew
Oct 13, 2004
  1. How to never get a virus, or become victim of drive-by spyware installs, and how to avoid a gagillion popups. For FREE.. no garbage 3rd party programs full of spyware masking themselves as an Adware remover

    [#1] .. Use Mozilla. (Free)
    Go to and d/l Mozilla FireFox. Make that your primary browser

    Go to and d/l Thunderbird, use that instead of Outlook Express

    In Thunderbird, turn off javascript for msgs, turn off 'image previewing'.

    Now, 99.9% of any potential problems are fixed, since you won't fall victim to ActiveX spyware/viruses anymore.

    [#2] .. Use AVG Anti-Virus (Free) i do believe, get the free no BS version. Yay.

    [#3] .. Either manually configure every port to be filtered or use Zone Alarm (Free) for Zone Alarm.. get the free version.. omgomg

    [#4].. Use Spybot Search x Destroy(yes, FREE)
    Use ad-aware by Lavasoft

    The downside to this, is you still have to use IE to run Windows update, but who cares that's low risk. I use the above combo on a Windows 2003 server, and I have never, ever had a virus or a spyware problem. I also d/l programs off Kazaa ++ all the time, wareZ/videos off UseNET (high risk) and visit all sorts of hax0r wannabe 2600 sites yet mozilla does a great job of not allowing tons of popups and automatic d/ls.

    Another bonus is somebody wrote a script for FireFox that will virtually block ALL ADS. (serious!) .. totally free. It's like surfing the internet circa 1994 .. :D
    I load up a page and the ad simply isn't a vacant box, it takes it out all together and squished the html into a proper site. YAY
  2. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    I use IE, I use Windows, I don't use a anti-virus software at all, nor a firewall. Only one virus in 14 years that is worth mentioning.

    It's all in having common sense.

    I do actually have SpyBot an Adaware installed but I scan about once every 4 months. Never picks up anything but cookies really.

    The one virus I did manage to get that was a bit annoying came from a file I downloaded on DC. Attached itself to svchost.exe and spread to over 300 files before I realized I had it (which was only because I decided to install NAV for the heck of it and do a scan). That was the one problem Ive had with a virus in 14 years. Actually didn't cause any noticeable problems.

    Mozilla/Firefox/AVG - hate them all.

    Also, I refuse to install AV software, firewall software or use a browser I don't like for the sake of being what everyone likes to call "safe" and what a lot do because it is "cool". It's only a computer. I'm not storing the plans for a Death Star on my PC. If I lose some data then big deal. I'm not using software I dont like, or installing AV/Firewall/etc just because a bunch of kids decided to create a virus or want to "haxxor" me.

  3. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    That's some really good advice. Install firewall, keep up to date with OS patches, install anti-virus software. Using firefox instead of IE, and using keeping on top of spyware as well might help.

    really, this is just about knowing a few things and keeping them in mind, after that it is not a problem. I have no problems that I can report involving viruses, spyware, hacking, or anything like that, because I follow the above. People who don't use a firewall, or have out of date virus software, are just asking for trouble.
  4. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    Like Acid... I do not use AV on my main machine( I have 4 on a lan) But I use a Firewall/NAT, and touch wood the only Virus/Trojan I ever got came while loading Norton -'Go figure' .the other machines have AV because my children run those .
    I dislike the software glut and invasive nature of most mainstrean AV 's not to mention the constant costs.However I recognize that not everyone has the ability / time to constantly protect themselves from the internet terrorists out there without the various types of protective software.
    The bottom line is that there is no one straight solution .Understand your situation and reality and proceed accordingly.
  5. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Apparently we have two basic noobs here.. Acid and Liquidlen.

    The purpose of this thread is to give foolproof and useful advice to less experienced users, not to brag about ones skills at avoiding computer problems.
  6. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Nodsu dont even start that. I was making a point. If you have common sense then you can avoid these things without all these programs. Though like Phant said, keeping Windows up to date is a good thing to do.

    When it comes to CLIENTS I recommend using Firefox, keeping Windows up to date, whatever firewall is best for their use, AV, etc. For me, most certainly not. If I had the money at the moment to buy a Linksys Router I would be using that and blocking certain ports, but I refuse to install a software firewall such as ZoneAlarm.

    If you wanna "hack me" and steal my "sensative data".. even though I dont have any, hey by all means go ahead. :zzz: Its a home PC and it's just a PC. It's not like you are hacking my brain. Thats what you dont understand. You all get all hyper and start screaming that someone is a ***** because they dont use AV/Firewall. Get over it.

    The point is: COMMON SENSE is your MOST POWERFUL tool.
  7. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Quick question : How can you tell that you don't have a virus if you don't have an anti-virus ? Not all viruses have an obvious behaviour like shutting down your machine or sending 30000 emails everytime you launch OE. :giddy:
  8. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    Acid is right Nodsu ,don't go there.My impression of this thread was, discussing the different styles to achieve a particular goal.Nothing more.
    BTW one way to find out if you have a virus is to use an online scan.Probably is not perfect but it must work to some degree.
    Also given the dynamic nature of people and their computers ,can you really always give "Foolproof advice?"
  9. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942


    An experienced mechanic who specializes in Diesel trucks can get into just about any diesel, drive it around, and know right away if there is something wrong with it that may be not apparent to a normal driver.

    An experienced mechanic driving his own vehicle, who works on cars all day and knows much about them, will know his own vehicle in and out. He knows what it is supposed to sound like when it starts, what it should feel like driving down a certain type of road, the exact mileage he should be getting, et cetera.

    What is the point of my analogy?

    When someone is extremely fluent and experienced with computers in general, much more so with their specific computers, they reach a point in knowledge, training, and experience in which they are communicating with the machine differently than others do - That person knows exactly how their computer is supposed to behave, knows its quirks and how it functions, knows what it feels like and knows what is good and what is bad.

    The instant something is wrong with any of my home machines, I immediately know it. When I am working with a client PC, I can play with it for a few minutes and usually determine in under 15 minutes exactly what the problem is, hardware or software. It's just something that an extremely experienced user can do. As far as Acid, I am sure he knows his machine well enough to be able to tell when something is wrong.

    Been using computers for 16 years solid and I have never used anti-virus or anti-spyware tools. I've never had a machine compromised, and the machines I have come across that were infected, I was always able to tell without the use of anti virus since I knew how the machine was supposed to behave and what I was supposed to find and see versus what was actually there. I am not bragging about anything here, don't get me wrong...

    What I am saying is:

    A computer is like any other machine. A technician who understands them and knows them well enough will be able to tell when something is wrong, almost immediately.

    Wow rant.
  10. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Yea, you're right Soul.

    Even years ago when I had a 386 (I'm sure a lot of you know how much noise hard drives made back then) and only a few years of PC experience I could tell something was up by the way the hard drive would sound at certain points.

    Now, I am able to tell something is not as it should be by the speed at which a window loads compared to normal (just as an example). Normally I can tell a split second difference, because as Soul said, you get to know your machine so well you know exactly how it normally behaves.

    In the past I would feel something was wrong and would have the feeling that I should install NAV and do a scan and I would. That is when I found that virus that I had a while back. The indication was not large but I just had a feeling that I needed to scan, maybe just a hunch due to some small occurence I didn't even realize, but the point is I just knew it was time to scan and I did.

    There have been several times I would install NAV basically for "the hell of it" and nothing would be found, but I almost always uninstall it within a week after. I don't like having software installed that I don't use, or don't see a immediate need for. I am very very particular about my personal computer. An icon in the wrong place annoys me. A .zip file out in the open under C: will bug me because I hate having a hard drive that is not organized well. Maybe that is because I have ADD and I am one of those people that want things a certain way or I get annoyed. As I've heard people say "Who moved my cheese?" (I think that is the name of the book they were referring to).
  11. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    BTW Didou. That is my point. If it's not causing a noticeable problem, then I could care less. If it's causing a noticeable problem then I will know it and that is when I will install AV and scan.

    And you might want to say something like "What if someone is spying on you?". Well, I have nothing to hide. I'm not growing pot inside the files of my PC. :angel: Let them snoop. They will get bored. Unless they want that movie I downloaded, but why hack me for a movie when you can get it elsewhere easily. Anyway, point made. :approve:
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    Well, I think acid and soul, as well as others above all have valid points.

    What I think it amounts to is that if you really know what is going on then do it yourself. If you are a bit unsure, then get protection.

    Its almost analgeous (wow spelling, we need to get a checker :)) to doing an automatic install of a program or a custom install.

    You know your system better than anyone else, and if you don't know exactly (or very close) to what is going on with what you install (and have installed) then you are probably best off with antivirus and spybot and such.

    I tend to think I knwo everythign that is going on with my machine, but I also do use adaware, spybot, AVG, opera, and thunderbird. Perhaps that all isnt' necessary for me, but I like to have some reassurance.
  13. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Acid, liquidlen, soul. Please read the thread topic.

    Do you think a "bas1c n00b" is able to tell the state of his computer from the sound that the HD makes?

    And you should be old enough to know that 99% of the people using computers have no "common sense" whatsoever.
  14. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    I was giving an explanation to Didou that I felt might be helpful or interesting to other people. If you don't like it, too bad. I felt it was appropriate and in a manner relates to the thread topic.
  15. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Maybe I should only take out car insurance when I notice my car has been stolen?

    After all, I know when it goes missing because I use it every day, so I am able to detect when something is wrong.
  16. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Nic, having your car stolen is entirely different. AV/Firewall and other prevention software will not stop your computer from being stolen. Having something stolen is entirely different than getting a virus. A virus is software. It doesn't catch your motherboard on fire and cause physical damage or cause it to disappear or appear in the hands of a criminal 5000 miles away.

    Even IF I got a virus I would have my PC up and running again as it was before within an hour at the max.
  17. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    Common sense tells me that at some point in time everyone started out as a "bas1c n00b" .
    Common sense also tells me that one way to not be a "bas1c n00b" is gaining knowledge through the free exchange of information and experiences.
    Common sense also tells me I learn very little when I hear only one point of view on any subject.
    I am part of that 1% that will continue to come here and practice not being a "bas1c n00b"
  18. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    There are people out there, who spend their time reading lots of operating system security problem reports. And looking out for new ones.

    As soon as they find a new one, they read about how it worked. They read about how to write binaries that will exploit this security hole, to anyone who has not been patched. They know that lots of people will patch. But they also know that a great many other people will never patch at all. They will have no idea that you are supposed to do that. They will think that so long as they have some ancient, out of date anti-virus software on their machine, they will be safe. This is nonsense.

    You need to repeat the following mantra:

    -I will regularly visit windowsupdate microsoft page, to check for critical updates.

    -I will regularly check that my virus software is upto date.

    -I will regularly download the lastest version of Zone Alarm, or some other firewall software.

    Do these things, and everthing should be ok. Operating system problems and hardware glitches and other annoyances will be the next enemy you will have to overcome.
  19. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    In your case, yes it doesn't matter, but for most users, they may have their personal details stolen by a trojan. If this happens they may find money being withdrawn from their bank accounts, or their identity being used to commit fraud. This would be a very serious issue for these people, many of whom will not even notice this happening. Wasn't Half-Life 2 stolen from Valve, then distributed on the internet? Obviously, if you don't keep anything valuable on your PC, and you don't mind re-imaging your hard drive when things go wrong, then you have nothing to worry about, do you?
  20. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    I do keep Windows up to date by the way, along with Adaware/Spybot (update when I actually use them which is rare).

    On about 20 machines at a library I did some work for, for a long time I recommended Firefox, we were moving some of the machines over to XP Pro, had a CISCO PIX installed, adaware, etc.

    I created a batch file with command line parameters to run Adaware about every other day, automatically at around 2:00am, and automatically remove anything that was found (using Task Scheduler). Google toolbar was installed on the machines that did not have XP. On the machines that had XP I recommended SP2 (after a week of doing tests on my own machine with SP2 to make sure I found no problems). Norton Antivirus was installed on the network and we managed every PC's updates from the server.

    Regardless of what any of you may think, I know more about what Im doing than you would like to have yourself believe. I run my own personal PC entirely different than a client's PC, or for example my parent's PC. I think a lot of you should throw away that amazingly huge ego you have and that massive desire to put Acid down and make it look like he knows nothing. When it comes down to it, I get things done and I do it well. Period. If there is something to learn I will learn it and in most cases I will learn in two weeks what normally takes everyone 6 months.

    Point is, again, when it comes to my PC I exercise common sense without the need for prevention software because I do just fine without it and have for over 14 years. When it comes to a client or someone else's PC I have an entirely different opinion in what should be done.

    The other larger point is, what I am trying to make you all realize is, common sense, not prevention software will be more valuable to you than any software you ever own that "attempts" to stop something from happening when it comes to being "hacked", having data stolen, being infected by a virus/spyware/adware. When you realize this, these software you are so proud of will be 1000x more powerful to you.

    You need to think largely on the fact that a firewall or AV alone will do nothing for you. If you have no idea what you are doing, then you might as well leave firewalls and AV software alone. As someone mentioned, most people that have these things, have no idea how to use them, do not update, etc. This is sort of where that common sense comes into play. The more you know about computers the better off you are. I don't care what anyone says -- firewalls and antivirus is USELESS 100% unless it is MANAGED by someone who knows what they are doing. Fact whether you like it or not. Hundreds of thousands of people using a firewall or AV are 100% unprotected. Just having these things does not protect you.

    Point made.
  21. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    Thanks Acid ,sounds like common sense to me.
    I'll bet your fingers are cramped though!
  22. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Acid: Given the title of this thread, what would be your advice for 'noobs'?
  23. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    My advice for new computer users, Nic, is simple, but beautiful, and neccessary.

    My advice is simply this:

    Learn your machine.

    People often forget that a computer is NOT a toy. Just like a car, or a TV, or a DVD player, or a toaster, it is a machine designed to serve specific functions. Granted, computers are in many ways intended to make our lives easier and/or more productive. But it is not something that should be taken for granted. If you want your computer to be easier for you to use and understand, then you need to take the time to actually learn a bit about it.

    Someone who owns a car may not have the slightest clue as to how it functions, what the gap for the spark plugs is, what size the wheels are, whether they have disc brakes or drum brakes - But rest assured, (at least after a first few mistakes) they learn that occasionally it needs the oil changed. They understand if the car makes an unusual noise that it may need to be looked it. They understand that in order to protect THEMSELVES, they should wear a seatbelt and protect their car from thieves by locking it at night and setting the alarm.

    A Computer should be no different. If you, a new user, expects to productively use a computer, whether for business, pleasure, function or all three - You should learn what you can about your computer, about the internet, and about protecting oneself. Computers, just like any other machine, just ilke any other tool, will serve you better and be easier to use when you understand them.

    My advice:

  24. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,350

    Easy. As I have already said, use common sense. The MAIN problem "noobs" (I like to call them new users) have is they treat a computer like a toy as Soul put it in a way. Clicking Yes to every dialog box that appears, believing every ad that says "You may be infected with a virus!", or "Your computer is at risk, download this new and improved awesome software now to protect you" (and take the bait), downloading all the free screensavers that they can, installing software just because their friends did, letting their kids use their computers without supervision.

    These are only a small example of the things that users do that cause MOST of the problems. 99% of the problems people are have are caused by....Can you guess? Not using COMMON SENSE.

    Exactly why I say common sense is your most powerful tool.
  25. me(who else?)

    me(who else?) TS Rookie Posts: 387

    I think everybody is right, and wrong...

    Acid: Sure, common sense is great, but so many people I meet have none when it comes to computers...really, very simple things can be completely messed up by a new user. Personally, I think that common sense and proper protection work better than just one or the other.

    Don't hurt me... :blackeye:
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