So many times I get called to a job where the client is in a panic because they tell me “I’m sure my computer has got a virus”. Most often this is because their computer is acting odd, maybe running a bit slowly or something else strange. Sometimes, it genuinely is a virus causing this, but quite a lot of the time there is another reason altogether. Today I want to shed some light on what you can do to reduce the chances of you being hurt by a virus on your system.

Rather than muddy the waters with the why’s and how’s, I’m just going to give you straight up advice about what to do, and what not to do.

Mac Users


Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing to stop damaging software being written for a Mac, but at this stage there have only been sporadic and minor breakouts.

My suggestion at this stage for an experienced Mac user with good awareness of the risks they are exposed to on the internet is that they do not need any protection. But for a relatively inexperience user I’d recommend one of the free utilities available, and my current favourite would be Sophos.


On the list of DON’T’s for Mac users – never, never, never (I really can’t emphasise this enough) install MacKeeper. Seriously, I’ve had more jobs fixing problems caused by that product than anything else !

PC Users


Because Windows is the most used computer operating system in the world, it is also the one that most bad code is written for to expose the most users to the bad guys. With that in mind I think it’s important to get the best protection software that’s available. Over time things change, but the software I currently recommend is ESET. This program will stay active all the time, scanning for any malicious software on your computer. I’d also recommend a secondary scanner that you can run on an ad-hoc basis; for this I currently recommend MalwareBytes – the free version is fine for this purpose in my opinion and you should make sure you untick the option for a free trial of the Premium product.


Make sure when you are downloading any software (Acrobat is a prime example) that you are not ‘optionally’ installing something else as well (such as the next product I’ll mention). Usually these are unnecessary and merely waste space and times. You’ll need to really be conscious of this through the download/install process – authors have become adept at making these ‘optional’ installs difficult to spot.

Finally when it comes to Windows computers, the vast majority of new PC’s ship with McAfee products pre-installed. Surprisingly this isn’t because it’s the best product available (far from it in my opinion), it’s merely a marketing exercise by McAfee (the thinking being that people will just keep subscribing and paying them money if it’s already on the computer). My advice for anyone with McAfee installed is to get rid of it immediately. I find it requires way too many of your computer’s resources and because of that, would place it well down my list of recommended virus checking products. The downside is that removing it can be a nightmare itself! Uninstalling through the Control Panel will not usually get rid of all its components, but if you download and run the McAfee removal tool you’ll be rid of it completely.


As always, prevention is always better than cure. But, to use a really awful analogy, similar to our own health, we need to make sure that we take adequate preventative steps, but not so much that this has an impact on the rest of our lives reducing our overall happiness.  One of the major problems I see with PC users is that they fear getting a ‘virus’ so much they install and use multiple bits of software to protect them, and as such overload their computers so much they reduce its power significantly.


As always, if you have specific questions on viruses, don’t hesitate to get in touch.