How to Protect Your Personal Computer

This service is for faculty, staff, and students.

These are general tips for helping you protect your personal devices. 

Computer Patches & Updates

Running regular updates on your operating system allows your computer to prevent many malicious programs.  If you aren't sure how to set up automatic updates, a quick google search for "how to setup automatic updates" for your particular operating system will guide you in the latest instructions.

Back-up personal files

Determine a plan for saving and backing up your personal data. There are both hardware or cloud-based options for back-up. Backing up data regularly will allow you to recover your files and folders in the event of a loss of data or computer crash. St. Thomas offers 1TB of free cloud file storage in OneDrive.


The best way to prevent infection on your computer is to install an anti- virus program. After installing, make sure to run a system scan at least once a week and update the program as needed. Most computers come with anti-virus software built in that does not require any additional installation. Microsoft System Endpoint Protection is one example that comes with all modern Windows 10 devices. 


Popular anti-spyware programs include: "Malwarebytes Anti-Malware" and "Spybot – Search & Destroy." These programs can help supplement your antivirus protection by searching for a specific type of malware. However, this should not take the place of an antivirus program. If you choose to install an anti-spyware program, be sure to keep it up to date and run scans regularly.

Web browser updates

Like any other software, internet browsers also need patches and updates. These updates usually are downloaded automatically and will alert you to restart your browser when the download completes. Not all browsers contain the same security features. You may want to research the browser you are currently using and determine whether it meets your security needs.

Third-party software updates

Downloading software online should come from reputable websites. Keep your current software up to date with the latest patches as many attackers commonly use holes in security in older versions of software - especially Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader.

Mobile device updates

It is important to keep your mobile devices up to date on the latest software version. Phone companies are constantly pushing out patches to vulnerabilities in their software to help keep you safe.

Beware of fake "free" promos

Sites that offer “free” material (e.g. music, movies, etc.) are very likely to give your computer an infection. Downloading copyrighted material without paying is illegal and also puts your computer at high risk.

Think before you click

Infections are commonly caught through email. Never open attachments or click on links in emails that are from an unknown sender or appear to be fraudulent. Falling for phishing can lead to identity or financial theft.

Beware of file downloads

Documents and non- HTML files are just as threatening when downloaded from the internet (often disguised as “normal” files), so make sure you know exactly where your download is coming from. Infections are also contracted through peer-to-peer clients that use torrents or other file sharing protocols.

Restart your device regularly

Restarting your computer is recommended at least every few days. This is a basic, but very important part of maintaining your computer's speed and security.

Be cautious of websites

Be conscious of the websites you are visiting. Malicious scripts on websites can infect your computer without your knowledge.

 To report a problem or receive additional troubleshooting, please contact the Tech Desk

Click to Request Service


Article ID: 99109
Mon 2/24/20 2:28 PM
Fri 10/14/22 10:11 AM

Related Services / Offerings (1)