5 steps to help protect your new computer before you go online

August 16, 2007

Step 1: Verify firewall

If you’re running Windows Vista or Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), you should already have Windows Firewall running, and you can proceed to Step 2.

To see what operating system your computer is running, click Start, My Computer, and then click View system information to open the System Properties window. This information is listed on the General tab under System.

Screenshot of System Propeties window

System Properties window

TipTip: With Windows Vista or Windows XP SP2 installed, you can manage Windows Firewall and other security settings in one place to help protect your computer. If you don’t have SP2 installed or do not wish to install it, see How to Enable Internet Connection Firewall in Windows XP.

Step 2: Get software updates

Turn on Automatic Updates.
Plug in your modem or network cable for Internet access.
Click Start and point to Control Panel. Select Network Connections in the Control Panel.
Choose Create a new connection to start the Network Connection Wizard.
After you’re connected, allow Microsoft Update to install the latest security and software updates.

After all updates are installed and your settings are defined, you’re ready to surf the Internet.

Just remember that it’s important to be diligent with computer security technologies, so run Microsoft Update regularly, check the latest downloads and product updates, keep Automatic Updates turned on, and be aware of the latest security threats.

Step 3: Download antivirus software

Review the inventory or packing list that came with your computer to make sure the hard disk has all the listed software installed and the original installation CDs are there. This bundle typically includes security software from a recognized computer security company.

In most cases, a trial version of this software should have been preinstalled on the computer or included on a disk. If it wasn’t, contact the computer manufacturer for a replacement.

If security software wasn’t included with the original order, you should obtain and install antivirus software before continuing.

Microsoft offers Windows Live OneCare, a comprehensive service that helps protect your computer from many different kinds of threats, inlcuding viruses.


Step 4: Download antispyware software

After you’ve confirmed that you have antivirus software, you should confirm that you have antispyware software. To find out why you need both, see What’s the difference between spyware and a virus?

Microsoft offers Windows Defender to help protect against spyware and other unwanted software. If your computer is running Windows Vista, you already have Windows Defender. If your computer is running Windows XP, you can download Windows Defender for free.

Step 5: Record system information

It’s a good idea to record your computer’s system information in case a technician needs it later. To do so:

Click Start, then Run, and type “msinfo32” in the text field. Click OK to open the System Information window.

Screenshot of System Information window

System Information window

In the window, on theFile menu, click Export.
Name the file and save it to an external storage device such as a blank CD or thumb drive, and store it in a safe place.Note: Windows Live OneCare also offers easy file backup and restore.

You should also keep the Windows installation CDs and related product key handy.

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