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Good Practices for Safe Downloading on the Internet

There are many great applications available on the Internet that you can download for FREE ! There are also many unscrupulous individuals out there that use free software downloads as a method of getting their Spyware, Adware, Viruses and other Malware* into your PC. Here are some good practices for safe downloading on the Internet:

First, a few basic rules:

NEVER download anything in response to an unsolicited e-mail. NEVER!

NEVER download anything in response to a popup ad. NEVER!

Even if that popup claims that your PC is infected and THEY can clear it up for you...just click on a link and enter your credit card info. Please don't WASTE your money. This will not help. NEVER!

Make sure you have a good UPDATED Anti-Virus application actively protecting your PC.
An old Anti-Virus application that has not been updated, DOES NOT PROTECT your PC.

Check out this Tech Tip for my top Anti-Virus recommendations.

You should also have a good UPDATED Anti-Spyware application actively protecting your PC.
There are a few good Anti-Spyware applications that stay in memory and actively protect you from spyware and adware being installed in your PC.
There are many good Anti-Spyware applications that are on-demand scanners. These applications just scan "on demand" and will remove a lot of spyware after you are already infected, but will not help protect you from getting infected in the first place.

Be careful about WHERE you download these applications.
You should only download files from known safe companies or download websites that scan all of their downloads for spyware, adware and malware. A good place to start is the Tech Solutions Radio Downloads page.

Be careful about WHAT you download. Caveat Emptor.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The applications claiming to protect your PC, give you cool free screensavers or help you play those video files, are typically the ones that are most likely to be infected.
Make sure you are downloading the actual program that you really want.  Many of the bad guys on the Internet have created 2nd rate applications and have given them names that sound very similar to the real, legitimate programs that many people search for.  They trick you into downloading their application and then try to charge you for the free program you really wanted to download.  Solution - get the name exactly correct and download only from known good sources.  Don't just do an Internet search for the name of the program you want and download it from the first website that appears.

Read those Legal Notices when you install software.

I know, what a pain. But typically buried in that long "fine print", you will find that you are agreeing to install some additional undesirable software along with the program that you downloaded.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Applications host a TON of infected files.
These sources of "free music" and other downloads are an easy way for those that want to spread viruses and spyware to trick you into downloading their files into your PC. They simply name their infected files with the names of the most popular music, videos, and sought after software and unsuspecting users are eager to download and infect their PCs.

*Definitions:
Spyware - A program that "spies" on your computer usage and sends information such as your keystrokes, browsing habits and other personal information to people that you don't want to have that info.
Adware - A program that causes unwanted popups to occur on your PC.
Viruses - A program that copies itself and infects a computer without your permission. Can cause varying levels of harm to your PC.
Malware - A general term for malicious software.

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