Discovering Windows


Check the Action Center ..



Install Antivirus Software ..



Register Your Antivirus




Scan a Folder or Disk

for Viruses



Schedule a Disk Check


"" Install spyware, such as a keystroke logger, a program that records every keystroke you type, as a way to snag passwords as you enter them into a program or on a Web site.

"" Spread to other systems through e-mail, over a network connection, or by way of flash drives.

Given the severity of risk viruses pose to your security, you'll be surprised that Windows 7 doesn't include antivirus software, although the company that sold your computer may have added some. In this chapter, you find out how to download, install, and run this vital software.

1. If you see the Action Center icon (the image of a flag) in the taskbar's notification area, hover your mouse pointer over that icon for a summary tooltip. When the icon also has an X over the flag image, you know that the Action Center has a message for you. Click the icon to see a list of the Action Center messages. In Figure 18-1, the Action Center notification pop-up indicates one important message (finding an antivirus program) and a second, presumably less-important issue (setting up a backup).

Summary of messages

Check the Action Center

1 important message

2 total messages

•Find an antivirus program online (Important)

Open Action Center

Specific messages

Figure 18-1

2. You can click a specific message within the pop-up notification to see related details, and you can also click Open Action Center for access to all messages. Figure 18-2 shows the result when you choose to open the Action Center.

If you don't see the Action Center icon in the taskbar, click Start and type action in the Search Programs and Files text box; then click Action Center from the resulting list.

Security and Maintenance section headers

Security and Maintenance section headers

Figure 18-2

Most Action Center issues have an option to Turn Off Messages about the particular issue. Don't turn off a message until you determine that it's truly irrelevant to you. On the other hand, the X — indicating a problem to resolve — appears over the Action Center icon until you address it or turn off the messages (for an issue you can safely ignore).

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3. Click anywhere on the Security heading to expand that section of the Action Center, as shown in Figure 18-3. Most of the items in this area are marked On or OK. Here's a brief description of each item under Security:

• Network Firewall: The firewall scans Internet traffic and blocks activity from programs that don't have explicit permission to use Internet access. When you install a program that uses the Internet, you may be asked to approve the connection the first time. The safest practice is to reject online connections that you don't initiate or recognize.

• Windows Update: See Chapter 17 for information on Windows Update.

• Virus Protection: Having virus protection for your computer is essential. See the task "Install Antivirus Software," later in this chapter, for instructions on making it so.

• Spyware and Unwanted Software Protection: If this service is on, you have basic protection from malicious software.

• Internet Security Settings: These settings pertain to your browser. The default settings may be adequate. To learn more, see the following tip.

I recommend Using the Internet Safely For Seniors For Dummies (Wiley Publishing, Inc.), by Nancy Muir and Linda Criddle, as a guide for helping you deal with online security confidently.

• User Account Control (UAC): This function notifies you of programs that try to make changes to your system and requires that you confirm any such changes. In particular, UAC lets you know when a program tries to run or install software that may be malicious.

• Network Access Protection (NAP): If this service is off, that isn't a problem, unless this computer connects to a business network that requires NAP to protect the business network from machines that aren't properly protected.

Click to expand Security section. Click to find antivirus software online.

Click to expand Security section. Click to find antivirus software online.

Figure 18-3

4. Click the Security heading to collapse that section. Then click the Maintenance heading to see what that section includes. Among other options, setting up backups is an item that Windows 7 likes to remind you of. (See Chapter 19 for information on backing up your data.) You can click the Maintenance heading to collapse that section.

Check the Action Center weekly or monthly to see whether any new messages have appeared. This is Windows 7's primary means of alerting you to potential problems.

Install Antivirus Software

1. In the Action Center, if Windows didn't find antivirus software on your computer, it prompts you to get cracking and get some. You'll need an Internet connection and Internet Explorer (IE) for this task. See Chapter 8 for information about connecting to the Internet and Chapter 9 for information on using IE.

2. In the Action Center, click the button to Find a Program Online (refer to Figure 18-3) under the Security heading. A Web page of Microsoft security software providers appears in your browser. Each company listed provides antivirus software. Some of these programs are free; some operate as an annual subscription. You may click on the company logo of any of these companies.

For these steps, I lead you through the process of downloading and installing free avast! antivirus software, an antivirus product that I recommend and have used for years.

3. In the IE address bar, type avast and press Ctrl+Enter, which automatically adds www. and .com to the address. The Web page shown in Figure 18-4 appears. On the avast! home page, click the Free Software tab and then click the Download button under Home Edition. (If these options don't appear on the home page, click the Download navigation button at the top, then Programs, then Home Edition. Click the Download button.) A second download page may appear, in which case, click the Download Now button. Note: Watch out for ads on these pages that also say download — those other products are not what you're after.

Click to download. Click for free software.

Figure 18-4

4. The IE Information Bar appears below the tab to indicate IE has blocked the download, as shown in Figure 18-5. (Don't worry; this is the normal, precautionary reaction that you want to happen with IE.) Click the Information Bar and then click Download File. The File Download Security Warning appears. Click Save.

Click to continue the download.

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Figure 18-5

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5. The Save As dialog box appears. Without changing anything, click the Save button.

6. After a few seconds, the Download Complete dialog box appears. Click the Run button. (If this dialog box doesn't appear, click the Start button and click Downloads or type down in the Start menu's search box and click Downloads. Double-click avast_home_setup.) The User Account Control dialog box appears to confirm your intent to run the setup. Click Yes.

7. In the first avast! Antivirus Setup dialog box (shown in Figure 18-6), choose your language and click Next. avast! downloads additional files and shows you another dialog box. If you're running any other programs, such as WordPad or Solitaire, close those programs to reduce interference with the setup. Click Next.

Choose your language here.

Choose your language here.

Figure 18-6

8. The avast! setup continues with a series of dialog boxes. Your part is simple — see the following table.

This Dialog Box Appears You Do This

Read Me Click Next.

License Agreement Click I Agree, then Next.

Destination Click Next.

Configuration Click Next.

Installation Information Click Next.

The Installation Progress Nothing.

A pop-up asking if you want to schedule Click Yes.

a boot-time antivirus scan

Setup Finished Click Restart and Finish.

9. Windows 7 exits and restarts. Before Windows 7 loads again — because you clicked Yes to schedule a boot-time antivirus scan — avast! scans your system for viruses. Don't be concerned as filenames flash on the screen during this process. This could take up to half an hour.

If your antivirus software finds a virus, it may ask you what to do. The best option is to delete a virus when it is found. However, some viruses infect documents. In such a case, you can choose the Quarantine option if you don't have a backup copy of the infected document. Quarantine moves the infected document to a safe area. You'll need to search the Web and download a program that can extract the virus from the document. It is better to have a backup of your documents — see Chapter 19 to create a backup before trouble comes.


Register Your Antivirus Software

1. After you install antivirus software, the company providing the software usually offers you the opportunity to register your software. Registering gives you access to updates. Antivirus software changes almost daily in the fight against virus developments.

2. If you followed the steps in the preceding section and installed avast!, you can proceed with these steps to register it. When avast! finishes the initial scan, Windows 7 starts again. The Welcome to avast! Home Edition dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 18-7. This dialog box informs you that you have 60 days to obtain a free registration key. avast! requires a new, free registration key every 14 months. To obtain the key immediately, click the link labeled avast! Home Registration Page. Otherwise, click OK to close the dialog box.

Welcome to avast! Home Edition

avast! 4 Mime Edition is free for home, non-commercial use. However, before using the product, you aie kindly asked to register it on our web site. You have GO days to do the registration

The registration process will only take a few minutes, and when you are done, you will get your own license key valid for 14 months. Of course, after that period you can register again and get a new key.

Commercial users or those who are looking for ultimate security can use avast! Professional Edilion. More information about this product can be found on our website.

Thanks for choosing avast! We wish you good luck and few viruses.

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Click this link to register. Figure 18-7

3. On the avast! Registration page, click the I'm a New User link. The next page prompts you for some information. Enter your e-mail address twice, your name, and your country. Click the check box to confirm you'll use the program at home. Enter the Control Letters that appear onscreen. Click Register. A confirmation message appears onscreen, saying that an e-mail message has been sent to your address. This message contains your license key.

4. Open your e-mail program and look in your inbox for a message from avast! with your license key. Refer to Chapter 10 for information on using e-mail.

5. To enter your license key, click the left arrow in the notification area on the taskbar. Right-click over the avast! icon. (It's a white a on a blue circle.) Click About avast! and click the License Key button in the About avast! dialog box.

6. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, click Yes. Then, in the Registration dialog box, enter your registration key. The easiest and most accurate way to enter the registration key is to select the key in the e-mail you received, press Ctrl+C to copy, click in the Registration text box (shown in Figure 18-8), and press Ctrl+V to paste. If you can't copy the key, enter the key as it appears in the e-mail. Click OK. avast! thanks you; click OK again.

Paste your registration key here.

Paste your registration key here.

Figure 18-8

7. Return to the Action Center (see the task "Check the Action Center" for steps). If there are no current issues, the Security section is collapsed; you can assume all is well.

8. If Virus Protection (under Security) is highlighted, avast! may need permission to update. Click the Update Now button. The Action Center may ask "Do You Want to Run This Program?" as in Figure 18-9. Click the Don't Show Me This Again check box and click Yes, I Trust the Publisher and Want to Run This Program. avast! downloads and installs updates. From this point on, avast! automatically installs updates and protects your computer from virus threats.

Check here to avoid this message.

Figure 18-9

Check here to avoid this message.

Figure 18-9

Scan a Folder or Disk for Viruses

1. Although avast! — or any other antivirus program — automatically scans for viruses, you may want to manually scan certain disks or folders, including the following:

• Flash drive: Always scan a USB flash drive that has been used with another computer, because flash drives can carry viruses from one computer to another.

• Downloads folder: Files in the Downloads folder have come from the Internet via the browser or e-mail. Scan this folder before opening downloaded files or moving files to other folders.

• Network folder: Although every computer on your network should be equally protected, you never know what someone else is doing with his or her computer, so scan a network folder before opening or copying files from that folder.

2. To scan a disk for viruses, choose StartOComputer ( +E). Right-click over the disk or flash drive. Choose Scan. (The avast! icon appears next to this option.) To scan a folder, right-click over the folder and choose Scan Folder Name from the shortcut menu, as shown in Figure 18-10.

Right-click folder or disk.

Click Scan.

Right-click folder or disk.

Click Scan.

Figure 18-10

3. As the scan begins, the avast! Quick Scanner dialog box appears. A folder or disk with few files takes just seconds to scan. A large number of files may take several minutes to scan. The dialog box disappears automatically, unless a virus is found. If a virus is found and avast! asks what to do, choose to delete or quarantine the virus. In most cases, delete the virus. If you got this infected file from a friend, warn her to update her antivirus software and run a scan.

Schedule a Disk Check

1. Hard disks store information in magnetically charged bits. Over time, hard disks can lose their ability to record information in random areas. Windows 7 can scan your hard disk for potential problems. If problems are found, Windows 7 tries to move data out of the affected area and marks that area to be avoided for data storage in the future. To run the error-checking function, choose Starts Computer (or press +E). Right-click over the Local Disk (C:) and choose Properties. The General tab of the Properties dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 18-11.

If you want to give your hard disk a more interesting name than Local Disk, type a name in the text box above Local Disk on the General tab. Click Apply. The new name appears in Windows Explorer, instead of Local Disk.

Give your hard drive a name here.

Give your hard drive a name here.

Figure 18-11

2. Click the Tools tab; then click the Check Now button in the Error-Checking panel. Figure 18-12 shows the resulting Check Disk Local Disk (C:) dialog box.

3. The Automatically Fix File System Errors check box should already be selected. Select the check box called Scan for and Attempt Recover of Bad Sectors. (The bad sectors are those weakened or corrupted areas of the disk's surface.) Click the Start button.

4. Windows 7 reports that it can't check the disk while it's in use (see Figure 18-13). Click the Schedule Disk Check button.

Choose options for your disk check.

Click Start.

Figure 18-12
Click to schedule disk check. Figure 18-13

5. The next time you start your computer, the error-checking function will start before Windows 7 loads. You may see a message giving you 9 seconds to press any key to bypass the check. Let the check run without interruption. A simple text screen of white text on a black background will indicate progress. The scan could take up to an hour or so. After the scan is complete, Windows 7 loads normally. You won't receive any reports, but you can assume the error-checking function has done its job. Run this test every couple of months or anytime your computer acts weird.

Keeping Your Data Safe

If your computer is stolen, lost, or destroyed, M you can replace it — at a price. But, the documents and photos you create — your data — are irreplaceable. Consider how miserable you might be if you lost a favorite photo or precious document forever.

As you work with your computer, any number of things can go wrong. Everyone loses something on the computer eventually. This is no reason to fear, but it is good reason to create backups, which are duplicates of your data that you keep in separate storage. You can back up just your most precious files, all of your files, or even the entire computer if you have the space for a very large backup.

In this chapter, you find out how to use Windows 7's tools to back up selected data or everything on your computer. I also show you how to restore files (put them back on the computer) and urge you to practice with at least one file so that you're ready for the real drill. You can also follow the steps in this chapter to create an emergency disc for starting the computer and repairing problems with Windows 7.

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