Computer Solutions

Caught a Virus?

If you?ve let your guard down, or even if you haven?t, it can be hard to tell if your PC is infected. Here?s what to do if you suspect the worst. Heard this one before? You must run antivirus software and keep it up to date or else your PC will get infected, you?ll lose all your data, and you?ll incur the wrath of every e-mail buddy you unknowingly infect because of your carelessness.

You know they?re right. Yet for one reason or another, you?re not running antivirus software, or you are but it?s not up to date. Maybe you turned off your virus scanner because it conflicted with another program. Maybe you got tired of upgrading after you bought Norton Antivirus 2001, 2002, and 2003. Or maybe your annual subscription of virus definitions recently expired, and you?ve put off renewing. It happens. It?s nothing to be ashamed of. But chances are, either you?re infected right now, as we speak, or you will be very soon.

For a few days in late January, the Netsky.p worm was infecting about 2,500 PCs a day. Meanwhile the MySQL bot infected approximately 100 systems a minute. Today?s viruses, worms, and so-called bots–which turn your PC into a zombie that does the hacker?s bidding aren?t going to announce their presence. Real viruses aren?t like the ones in Hollywood movies that melt down whole networks in seconds and destroy alien spacecraft. They operate in the background, quietly altering data, stealing private operations, or using your PC for their own illegal ends. This makes them hard to spot if you?re not well protected.

Here are a few more pointers for a virus-free life: Be careful with e-mail. Set your e-mail software security settings to high. Don?t open messages with generic-sounding subjects that don?t apply specifically to you from people you don?t know. Don?t open an attachment unless you?re expecting it. If you have broadband Internet access, such as DSL or cable, get a router, even if you only have one PC. A router adds an extra layer of protection because your PC is not connecting directly with the Internet. Check your Internet ports. These doorways between your computer and the Internet can be open, in which case your PC is very vulnerable; closed, but still somewhat vulnerable; or stealthed (or hidden), which is safest.

How effective are these precautions? Let me put it this way: I get several virus-laden e-mails every day. Yet by taking these simple steps to protect my PC, I am happy to say, I haven?t been infected. I just hope I?m not bragging before the fall.

Tech Toys

?The times they are ah changing?, at least in the world of technology. The Nintendo DS is a force to reckon with. The DS. Stands for dual screen, check it out. With awesome 3D graphics, the Nintendo DS delivers portable gaming for fans of any age. Plus, you can play all your favorite Game Boy Advance games in a single-player mode. What could be better?

The Nintendo DS Dual LCD screens allow the player to interact with games in a new way. The bottom screen allows for touch screen capabilities. No more relying on cumbersome buttons to move your characters, shift perspectives, or move through the menus. Wireless communication allows for real-time multiplayer game play, while text messaging. A built in mike communicates wirelessly over a network and the internet. The list just keeps on going. Tech toys are truly evolving. Watch for next week?s tech toy.

Computer Questions

(Q): Is it better to leave my computer on all of the time or turn it off when I?m not using it?

(A): When you turn a computer on and off it creates a small surge of electricity that over a period of time can cause damage to the components inside of your computer. The surge is internal so an external surge protector won?t protect the internal parts.

Leaving your computer on all of the time also can prove to be dangerous. The number one culprit is heat. If you leave your computer on full time, make sure you have adequate ventilation, and air movement. I leave my P/C on full time; I also use five fans on the inside of my P/C case. Heat wears down computer components and causes computer failures.

Please send your computer questions to and we?ll publish your answer in a future column.

Call Computer Solutions at 242-3404 for all your computer needs.