When you get pop ups on your computer, do you know what it is? Is it a virus or is it malware? Is there a difference? The answer is a resounding, "yes".

When we talk to customers about computer terms, sometimes it is easier to explain in analogies. Personally, this is one of my favorite subjects to explain.

Malware is like a virus. They are malicious but they are not made specifically to make your computer unusable. Viruses on the other hand, are made to render your computer inoperable. Think of malware as a way for companies to make money by forcing you to view advertisements. The problem is, the programs are poorly written, and most times, they eat up all your system resources. They also open the door to more nasty things, such as more malware and viruses. Think of it like this, let's say that you take a vacation. Pretend that you drive away from your house, and you accidentally leave your front door unlocked. It wouldn't be a good idea to leave your house for an extended period of time with your front door unlocked. Malware is the guy that for whatever reason, checks to see if your front door is unlocked. Once he realizes that the door isn't locked, malware will open the door, laugh, and then run away. Once malware has stopped by your house and left your front door open, a virus will walk in and destroy your house, possibly stealing all your stuff.

Doesn't sound like a very good situation does it? Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself. 

So where do you get malware from? Most of the time, malware comes from a user downloaded file. There are many websites that show malicious ads. These ads are made to look like a legit Windows message, or something telling you to update your flash player. The best course of action is to not click on it. There are some programs out there that will hide these ads, but the best thing to do is be aware. Another way that you can get malware is some free software that you can download online comes packaged with other "free" software. When you are installing your free program, pay attention to everything that it is asking you permission for. Read the fine print. Don't simply click next and I agree. The good news is, if caught in time, malware is easily removed.

Viruses are a different story. Most viruses are pretty simple to remove. There are exceptions to this, and there are some viruses, that while they can be removed, you probably just want to reinstall your operating system. Viruses can be picked up from downloading and running software that is not legit. Some times, you will find these viruses on file attachments that you have been emailed, or if you are looking for something on the internet, and you go to an illegitimate website. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if something is legit or not, so the best thing to do is ask if there is any question.

Remember to always have some sort of virus protection on your computer. Being careful is only half of it. What happens if you make a mistake, and click on something that you shouldn't? Microsoft offers free virus protection, and while it isn't the best, it is better than nothing. There are other options out there too, and if you need virus protection, speak to one of our expert technicians about what would work best for you.

Remember that it is easier to combat viruses and malware infections the sooner you have someone look at your computer. 

Have any questions? Contact us in our live chat or send in a request to have an expert technician call you back.
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