Antivirus software protects your computer against malicious software designed to damage the system or compromise your security.
New computers are often preloaded with a trial version of antivirus software – for example, Norton or McAfee antivirus. This will protect you for about three months, but then you’ll need to either pay a subscription to continue using it or install one of the popular free programs.
If you decide on having a free program, you’ll need to make sure that you uninstall any existing antivirus software first. It’s best to do this by visiting the appropriate manufacturer’s website and downloading their ‘removal tool’.
This guide will help you install a free antivirus program called Windows Security Essentials. Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 have been used for the illustrations, but the procedure will be very similar with computer using Windows XP or Vista.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to protect yourself against viruses
Step 1: Open Internet Explorer.
Step 2: Type ‘www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/’ in the address bar and press the ‘Enter’ key on your keyboard.
Step 3: Click Get it now.
Step 4: You will be taken to a 'Downloads' page. Choose the language and version of the program that you would like. Click Download.
A pop box will come up on the screen asking you if you want to ‘Run’ or ‘Save’ the file. Choose Run.
Step 5: A ‘File Download – Security Warning’ screen now appears. Click Run.
Step 6: Click Next.
Step 7: Click to accept the licence agreement.
Step 8: You’ll need to decide whether to participate in the Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program, which sends usage statistics back to Microsoft.
Step 9: Click Install to put the Windows Security Essentials program on your computer.
Step 10: Finally, you’ll need to click Restart now to finish the installation. Your computer will shut down and start again.
Windows Security Essentials will now be on your computer, represented by a green icon (see right) in the system tray in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
The program will periodically scan your computer to check for any problems. If something needs attention, the icon will change from green to orange or red. If this happens, click the icon to open the program and click Scan or Update as necessary. (Microsoft should, however, automatically send updates to download when they come available.)
Fiona Syrett is a Digital Unite tutor.