Virus scan effectively

How do you use your virus scanner? Do you scan often? Just let the program sit idly and hope it proactively catches the bad stuff as it comes along?

Actually, it is important that you do more than either of the above to stay safe.

Treat your computer like a fortress

Imagine that your computer is a fortress, and your virus scanner is the guard at the gate. Everything that approaches the fortress must be strip searched before getting invited inside.

Similarly, before opening any file that arrives on your computer (for example, an email attachment or a downloaded movie or music file) you must first scan it. Saving it to your desktop, where it can sit harmlessly, is okay, but do not open it until you scan it.

Scanning a single file is really easy to do: Right click on the file and select “Scan with name of virus program“, and a scan of that one file will be swiftly carried out. It usually takes just a couple of seconds.

Using this method, you should find that you are able to drastically reduce the infections that successfully crash the gates of your fortress. In addition, removal is much easier when you find out that a file is a virus before opening it – you simply need to delete the file. In contrast, once you’ve allowed a virus onto your computer, it usually gets its hooks into obscure places, multiplies, and perhaps does some damage.

Read more about antivirus


  1. Comment by PJ'R — 14 October 2006 @ 11:07 pm

    Are anti-virus and/or anti-spy/ad-ware less effective when you’re working within a network (for example, in a home that has several computers linked together)?

  2. Comment by Ian Saxon — 16 October 2006 @ 9:52 pm

    Hi PJ’R, thanks for the question.

    I don’t consider myself an expert in networks, but I will give the best advice I can.

    Networks don’t necessarily make antivirus or anti-spyware programs less effective in the sense that the programs suddenly stop doing their jobs properly.

    However, you may find that worms and viruses spread more easily to networked computers, especially if a firewall has not been set up.

    Note that if one of the computers has been compromised, it should not remain connected to the network – disconnect it until you clean it up. If it remains connected and the other computers on the network think it is to be trusted, malicious programs might exploit this.

    Also, the advice I gave, which is to scan everything before something foreign (downloaded from the internet, received in an email, etc.) is opened, must be followed by every user on the network. So a little bit of cooperation is involved – any user who ignores this advice imperils every other user.

    Hope that helps,


  3. Comment by Tom — 18 October 2006 @ 9:35 am

    Good job, Ian!

    Two more interesting articles for you:

    You’ll see how evil MS is.

  4. Comment by Ian Saxon — 20 October 2006 @ 3:29 am

    Hi Tom,

    Good to hear from you – and thanks for the comment and links.

    Those news stories are a good reminder of something I’ve been intending to write about as the release of the new Windows operating system approaches: it’s usually a good idea to wait about a year after a new operating system’s release before purchasing it, as the initial versions will likely be plagued with security flaws. A year will allow the software developer to fix some of its mistakes and third party vendors to pick up the slack where the developer’s fixes are inadequate.


  5. Comment by Kitson Swann — 27 November 2006 @ 4:03 pm


    This is so simple, yet I have never done it before. I’ve been doing it ever since I read this and your advice has helped me avoid a few nasty viruses.



  6. Comment by Ian Saxon — 3 December 2006 @ 4:59 am

    Kitson, glad my advice helped. Keep it up!


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