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(ARA) – As the new year approaches, many of us begin thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. However, we often forget one resolution that is increasingly important – to protect the health of our PCs.

From viruses to trojans to spyware inadvertently downloaded while surfing the Internet, your computer constantly confronts malicious software that can put it at risk. Just as we resolve in the New Year to improve our own health, we can resolve to improve the health of our PC, which can save considerable time, money and anxiety.

The question is: How does the average family or small business keep its PC running at top speed and protected at the same time? To prevent malicious software and poor PC performance from ruining your New Year, consider these four easy steps to help keep your PC protected:

* Enable automatic update. Keeping your PC up-to-date is a vital part of keeping it secure. Turning on the automatic update will help ensure you are receiving the most recent security signatures, which protect you from new and ongoing security attacks. Security updates are being issued constantly and the automatic update function can inform you when it comes time to update your system. You don’t have to search for software updates or be worried that you are missing a crucial update. Automatic update brings the latest and greatest security software directly to you.

* Don’t click on e-mails from unknown sources or open unfamiliar attachments. You should never open an e-mail from someone you don’t know. Opening an e-mail from an unknown sender can put your PC at risk to a variety of threats including spyware, phishing attacks and viruses. Be wary of suspicious e-mails from people you do know as well. Phishing attacks are a common occurrence and if you receive an e-mail from a familiar address with a suspicious subject line, don’t open it.

* Only install reputable antivirus software. Antivirus software from a reputable company can detect and remove viruses and malware. But sometimes malware can masquerade as security software, tricking you into paying for a product that actually infects your computer. Protection doesn’t need to be costly – some of the best antivirus software is available for free – just make sure you only install antivirus or anti-malware software from a website you know and a provider you trust.

* Upgrade your browser. Just like your operating system, it is important to keep your browser upgraded because it can help keep you protected from security threats. Outdated browsers may have security flaws that could make you more vulnerable to malicious software attacks. Also, keeping your browser updated may be the optimal way to view certain websites. Check for updates regularly or sign up for an automatic update service.

The most important thing when downloading or opening anything is to make sure you trust the source the content is coming from. Microsoft offers a variety of options to keep your PC secure, from Microsoft Update which will help keep your operating system, software and browser updated to Microsoft Security Essentials, a free antivirus software that is easy to use and provides real-time protection that runs quietly and efficiently in the background. Both of these services will enable you to use your PC the way you want while helping keep you protected and secure year-round. For more information on how to keep your new PC safe, visit for more tips.

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.