You have heard of malware, the nasty bits of program which threaten your computing in various ways, including destroying your data, jamming your network and sending your personal information to people who have no business having access to it. You want to get rid of malware for a problem free, smooth computing experience. But how do you do it? Here's how.
First let me tell you about the less drastic solutions the ones that most people opt for. Then I shall go on to a more radical solution, which is not what most people do, but which is a near-absolute guarantee that you won't face this type of problem again in the foreseeable future.
The commonest type of anti-malware program is of course the anti-virus program. These are designed to detect the bits of viral code that attach themselves to other programs and threaten to wreak havoc on your machine, erasing your data and sometimes even damaging the hardware. Anti-virus programs are sometimes also able to detect worms and trojans and remove them before they can do any damage. But remember that the free packages do not come with support. For that, you have to buy one of the commercial offerings, from Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro or the numerous other smaller vendors.
One thing that you must remember while using anti-virus software is that new viruses are being written every day. You can't just install the anti-virus and rest assured in the knowledge that it will continue to protect you forever. The program needs to connect to its home site every once in a while (once a week or so) and download information about the latest viruses, or it won't be able to protect you against those. Usually this happens automatically, if you opt for the auto-update feature that all good anti-virus programs have. Your machine naturally needs to be connected to the internet for this to work.
There are also several types of anti-spyware program available for free or for a price. It is being rumored that Microsoft is going to include an anti-spyware in its upcoming operating system, named Vista. However, the release date of Vista is being continuously postponed because of technical and legal problems that Microsoft has been facing. So if you aren't going to wait for that, get something for this today.
Now the radical solution. Be aware that 99.99% of all viruses, worms, trojans and spyware are written for Windows XP and other Microsoft platforms. There are other operating systems than those made by Microsoft, and these are more secure for two reasons. First, their inherent security model is much better than anything from Microsoft. Secondly, they occupy such a small portion of the market that virus writers do not find it worth their time and effort to create a virus for these platforms.
Chief among these 'other' operating systems is of course Macintosh OS X, which comes bundled with Apple computers. But if you can't afford a Mac, then the best you can do is go for one of the Linux systems, which can be downloaded for free (if you don't want official support) from any of these sites: Fedora, SuSE, Mandriva, Ubuntu and many many more. You can probably find a geeky friend who can install and configure these systems on your computer, or you can find someone who does it for money. And once you have got one of them going, you won't have to read this article any more because malware will just go away from your life forever.