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If you own a computer and especially if you use it for browsing the internet, I'm sure you have had to deal with some sort of virus or spyware. They both cause problems with your PC and give you headaches. So what is the difference between the two? I'm glad you asked.

One of the main differences between the two is how you get them. Viruses are usually brought upon by files opened from e-mail attachments or transferred from other computers via CDROM or flash drive. Viruses usually do more damage by deleting important files and spreading throughout your system or network and sometimes e-mailing themselves to people you know.

Spyware is usually brought upon by YOU going to shady websites and clicking ok to download programs which you should never do unless you know what you are downloading and know it's safe. You can get spyware just by visiting a page and browsing around. Another way to get spyware is by downloading "free" software which installs the spyware along with it. Many times the software supplier won't tell you that it is being installed as part of your free software. Visit our spyware page for more information on how to get rid of spyware - Spyware Removal and Information

How to Avoid Getting Viruses

There is no 100% effective way to avoid getting a virus except for leaving your computer off 24 hours a day. Even if you don't have an Internet connection its still possible to get a virus infection from loading a CD or flash drive given to you from someone else. To avoid getting a virus on your computer it is essential to have antivirus software installed on your computer and keep it up to date as well as do complete system scans periodically.

One of the most popular antivirus software packages is Norton Antivirus by Symantec. It’s easy to use and offers regular updates to the virus definitions. If you have a broadband connection that’s always on it will download and install the updates automatically. You can also schedule virus scans at the times you choose. Other popular and effective antivirus software is Sophos and AVG antivirus. AVG even has a free version you can download and install on your computer.

Another way to avoid viruses is to watch your e-mail carefully and don't open e-mail from people you don't know especially when there is an attachment. Learn to watch for files with .exe, .vbs, .scr or .bat among other file extensions on the end. Viruses can also spread through Word documents as well.

Also be careful as to what websites you go to since it is possible to get a virus or spyware infection just from going to an unsafe website.

You should always scan disks and flash drives given to you by other people before copying files to your computer. You never know what's on somebody else’s computer! Most antivirus software has an auto protect feature which will scan files as you access them to hopefully catch the virus before its too late.

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