Protect your computer system

Install Windows updates and Microsoft updates

The Windows Update service is a simple and reliable way to make sure your PC stays updated. Windows Update provides your PC with security and reliability updates, drivers, service packs, and feature updates. And with Windows Update, you can turn on Automatic Updates so it continuously checks for, downloads, and installs most updates automatically for you.

While Windows Update provides you with updates specifically for Windows, Microsoft Update expands the service to provide updates for other Microsoft software, such as Microsoft Office and Windows Live.

If you use these programs, Microsoft recommends that you use Microsoft Update to make sure all your programs are kept more secure, reliable, and updated with new features. When you browse to the Microsoft Update service, the offerings you see in Windows Update expands to provide updates for both Windows and other Microsoft products, all within the same Windows Update control panel. This makes it easier than ever to keep your Microsoft software updated.

To run Windows Update, click Start All Programs Windows Update, or use your Internet browser (IE, FireFox, etc.) to navigate to

Install antivirus software

Computer viruses install themselves on your computer by exploiting a security weakness. Once installed, viruses attempt to propagate to other computers across the Internet or your network. Computer viruses can not only reduce performance, but they can also destroy data. Any computer that accesses the Internet should have antivirus program installed, such as Norton Internet Security and McAfee Internet Security Suite.

Install antispyware software

Spyware is a broad term used to describe software that might install itself without your knowledge, take unwanted actions (such as monitoring your computer usage or displaying advertisements), and make itself difficult to remove. If you have ever had your Internet Explorer home page change, seen a toolbar appear unexpectedly, or noticed new icons near your system clock, you may have spyware on your computer.

Antispyware improves your protection by helping you remove known spyware from your computer and helping block the installation of new spyware. For a great antispyware program, check out Windows Defender.

Back up your computer

The first three steps work to protect you from threats against your computer. However, not all threats can be prevented. In particular, hardware failure, theft, and fire can damage your computer and destroy your data. To protect yourself from these threats, plan for recovery by backing up your computer. If disaster strikes, copies of your work, pictures, home movies, e-mail, and other important documents will be stored safely in your backup.