Virus Protection FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Virus Protection FAQ


Viruses are a real threat to your PC, especially if you use the Internet regularly. Knowing what a virus is and how computers contract them will help you protect your data and your PC.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is man-made computer code that disrupts your computer’s functions by infecting its programming and destroying data. The virus can be transmitted via an infected disc, over a network or the Internet, through downloads or by opening an infected e-mail.

How does a virus affect computer functions?

A virus disables the PC by reproducing itself in the computer's memory (RAM) or hard drive, where it can sometimes hide in documents or expand invisibly.

What are the “symptoms” of a PC virus?

  • On start-up, the computer screen displays an unexpected graphic, such as a famous person or holiday symbol, you did not create
  • Unusual or inexplicable error messages
  • Strange beeping or clicking noises, or music unrelated to what you are working on
  • Computer’s time and date are altered
  • Files are randomly corrupted
  • "Write protect errors" appear when opening .exe files
  • Inability to open certain files
  • Unusually long start-up and/or running time
  • Frequent freeze ups
  • Spontaneous shutdowns

What is the best protection against computer viruses?

An antivirus program will help keep your computer healthy and virus-free. The program automatically looks for viruses any time you download or open new software or e-mail. Popular antivirus programs include those made by Symantec. And if your computer runs Windows® XP, it automatically installs the software, virus updates and patches you need to keep your computer running smoothly whenever you connect to the Internet. Learn more about programs to protect your PC in Using antivirus software and Protecting your PC.

Be careful when downloading inexpensive or free "shareware" from the Internet. Also, be wary of incoming e-mail attachments. Many popular web-based e-mail providers, such as Yahoo! and MSN,® include virus scanning with their services. If you receive an e-mail that seems out of the ordinary, NEVER open the attachment and just delete the e-mail.

How can a “sick” computer be repaired?

If your system becomes infected and you don’t already have an antivirus program on your computer, install one as soon as possible. The program will scan your computer for viruses and remove them.

Can a virus affect other equipment attached to the computer?

Yes. Even though a virus usually affects only software, it can cause problems with other hardware such as printers, monitors and keyboard.

Are viruses the only threat to a computer?

Unfortunately not. Hackers and identity thieves can compromise the security of your system and your data. Make sure your PC is safe from more than just viruses.
Read Protect your PC: firewalls to learn more.