Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ answers some of the questions that new users ask about computer viruses and Trojan horse programs. It also tries to clear up some common misconceptions about viruses and E-mail.

If you need help with a virus infection or want more advanced information about viruses, please contact us.

Popular FAQ’s

A computer virus is a program designed to spread itself by first infecting executable files or the system areas of hard and floppy disks and then making copies of itself. Viruses usually operate without the knowledge or desire of the computer user.
Viruses have the potential to infect any type of executable code, not just the files that are commonly called 'program files'. For example, some viruses infect executable code in the boot sector of floppy disks or in system areas of hard drives. Another type of virus, known as a 'macro' virus, can infect word processing and spreadsheet documents that use macros. And it's possible for HTML documents containing JavaScript or other types of executable code to spread viruses or other malicious code. Since virus code must be executed to have any effect, files that the computer treats as pure data are safe. This includes graphics and sound files such as .gif, .jpg, .mp3, .wav, etc., as well as plain text in .txt files. For example, just viewing picture files won't infect your computer with a virus. The virus code has to be in a form, such as an .exe program file or a Word .doc file, that the computer will actually try to execute.
When you execute program code that's infected by a virus, the virus code will also run and try to infect other programs, either on the same computer or on other computers connected to it over a network . And the newly infected programs will try to infect yet more programs. When you share a copy of an infected file with other computer users, running the file may also infect their computers; and files from those computers may spread the infection to yet more computers. If your computer is infected with a boot sector virus, the virus tries to write copies of itself to the system areas of floppy disks and hard disks. Then the infected floppy disks may infect other computers that boot from them, and the virus copy on the hard disk will try to infect still more floppies. Some viruses, known as 'multipartite' viruses, can spread both by infecting files and by infecting the boot areas of floppy disks.
Viruses are software programs, and they can do the same things as any other programs running on a computer. The actual effect of any particular virus depends on how it was programmed by the person who wrote the virus. Some viruses are deliberately designed to damage files or otherwise interfere with your computer's operation, while others don't do anything but try to spread themselves around. But even the ones that just spread themselves are harmful, since they damage files and may cause other problems in the process of spreading. Note that viruses can't do any damage to hardware: they won't melt down your CPU, burn out your hard drive, cause your monitor to explode, etc. Warnings about viruses that will physically destroy your computer are usually hoaxes, not legitimate virus warnings.
A type of program that is often confused with viruses is a 'Trojan horse' program. This is not a virus, but simply a program (often harmful) that pretends to be something else. For example, you might download what you think is a new game; but when you run it, it deletes files on your hard drive. Or the third time you start the game, the program E-mails your saved passwords to another person. Note: simply downloading a file to your computer won't activate a virus or Trojan horse; you have to execute the code in the file to trigger it. This could mean running a program file, or opening a Word/Excel document in a program (such as Word or Excel) that can execute any macros in the document.
You can't get a virus just by reading a plain-text E-mail message or Usenet post. What you have to watch out for are encoded messages containing embedded executable code (i.e., JavaScript in an HTML message) or messages that include an executable file attachment (i.e., an encoded program file or a Word document containing macros). In order to activate a virus or Trojan horse program, your computer has to execute some type of code. This could be a program attached to an E-mail, a Word document you downloaded from the Internet, or something received on a floppy disk. There's no special hazard in files attached to Usenet posts or E-mail messages: they're no more dangerous than any other file.
Treat any file attachments that might contain executable code as carefully as you would any other new files: save the attachment to disk and then check it with an up-to-date virus scanner before opening the file. If your E-mail or news software has the ability to automatically execute JavaScript, Word macros, or other executable code contained in or attached to a message, I strongly recommend that you disable this feature. My personal feeling is that if an executable file shows up unexpectedly attached to an E-mail, you should delete it unless you can positively verify what it is, who it came from, and why it was sent to you. The recent outbreak of the Melissa virus was a vivid demonstration of the need to be extremely careful when you receive E-mail with attached files or documents. Just because an E-mail appears to come from someone you trust, this does NOT mean the file is safe or that the supposed sender had anything to do with it.
Fortunately, we support almost everything. Ability to support Linux systems. We cover Macintosh quite adeptly. We are very Mac based more than most IT support companies. We do Microsoft. We support everything from Windows 2000 to the upcoming Windows 8. We have quite a bit of experience in those systems. But really there is very little or almost nothing that we can’t do.
We endeavor to speak English as opposed to "Tech-ese" We find that that makes us accessible to you and to your ability to ask us questions. We take pride in our ability to communicate technical issues in a way that you can understand it using analogies, whatever it takes. People understand when we explain the issues to them in that way. These ways have made most of our existing clients smarter in the way they understand technology. We don’t just want to do things for you; we really (and I cant stress this enough) want you to understand why we’re doing these things so we can have that transparency. This is a major portion of the way we do business. We really try to put a lot of effort into explanations so you understand the value of things.
The most manufacturers will suggest a 3-year refresh rate. Which tends to serve their purposes quite well. More often than not we find that clients can keep their workstations for up to 5 years and the same seems to be true of servers. If you consider a 5-year life span, which is the standard for any computer, that’s the most efficiency you’ll get at this time. As technology moves more towards the cloud, or to services that are focused on remote desktops or remote terminals, then you can survive on older technology for longer. We try very hard to stay on top of that information and try to figure out the best solution for you. Often times if there is new technology, we won’t recommend it if we don’t think it’s necessary.

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