Computer savvy tips for dealing with viruses, spam and file formats

Computer viruses, spam, and formatting can be frustrating to deal with. Check out these savvy tips to solve these problems and get the most out of your computer.

Computer savvy tips for dealing with viruses, spam and file formats

Guard against computer viruses

Viruses can get onto your computer via email messages, downloads from the Internet and from sharing portable storage devices, such as memory sticks.

  • Symptoms and cures: If your computer has a virus it may run slowly or crash frequently; dialogue boxes and other elements on screen may look different; you may hear the hard disk whirring when it should be inactive. Run your anti-virus software immediately or seek help from a computer professional.
  • Beating off viruses: Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Be careful about what you allow onto your computer: only download from reputable websites, and be wary of unsolicited or odd-looking emails, even if they appear to have come from a friend. Delete any that seem suspect without opening them (viruses are often hidden in an attachment).

Banish spam emails

Spam is one of the irritations of the Internet age. It's hard to avoid completely, but there are ways to stop it clogging up your inbox.

  • Activate your email program's spam or "junk" filter.
  • Don't hit the "unsubscribe" button on spam emails; this only confirms that your email address is active.
  • Use a separate, free email address when buying online or subscribing to newsgroups; keep your main email address for friends and colleagues.
  • Don't publish your email address on the web: a "spambot" might find it and start to bombard you.

Change computer file formats

File format simply means the program in which any given document was created, and also the version of that program. You'll sometimes need to change the file format of a document to make it readable on computers that use different programs than yours, or older versions of the same program.

  • To do this, open your file select Format from the drop-down menu. Follow the instructions on the screen and remember to save the new document.
  • It's important to include the file extension, because sometimes another computer won't be able to recognize the file type unless the extension is present, and so won't be able to open it. Most programs have a Save As option that allows you to "save back" to older versions, or to change the file format in other ways.

Keep these tips in mind and maintain your computer by protecting it from viruses and spam, and learn how to format your files to access them on different operating systems.

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