If you own a PC, the single most important program on your machine is your anti-virus. Despite the best efforts of web developers, viruses are still a big problem, and they are beginning to affect Macs, as well. There are several important things you need to do to help keep your machine bug-free.

First, you need to pick an anti-virus program that works properly. Most folks have heard of Norton and McAfee, but there are other products on the market, as well, including several free ones. The key here is downloading them from a site that you can trust., for instance, is run by computer wizards cNet, and all of their downloads are checked for viruses. Try to avoid downloading a product from a site you’ve never heard of. There are thousands of fake anti-virus products out there that are really viruses and Trojans in disguise.

Once you’ve settled on a product, you have to keep it up to date. A reputable virus product will require that an updated list of viruses multiple times per week. Some products have settings to automatically update their virus definitions, while others don’t. If you have a product that doesn’t, you should check two or three times per week. Otherwise, you will fall behind the threats that are out there.

In addition to updating your definitions, you also need to scan your entire hard drive at least once a week. Most products like Norton do this in the wee hours of the morning when you won’t be using your machine, but if you turn your computer off at night, it may never have a chance. Your anti virus program is completely useless unless you scan your hard drive on a regular basis.

Finally, read up on reviews of the latest programs out there. Often times, products that were ranked at or neat the top one year may not be the next. If you really care about the contents of your computer, you’ll go with the top ranked software each year. There are a lot of hackers out there and the only thing keeping them away from your data is a good anti virus.