Computers are great. Until they start doing things you didn't tell them to do. Even worse is when they do things you absolutely don't want them to do. If you want to spare yourself the headache of someday needing to reformat your hard drive, please follow these steps the very first day you hook your computer up to the internet. I myself decided to compile this list after running into problems. I am not a techie, just a googler. I've had my laptop running smoothly for a month now without my viruscan picking up one single thing. Believe me, that's a huge deal. OK, so here it is. You don't have to do these in order, just do them.
1. Create a folder in My Documents and name it Downloads. Place any and everything you download from any and every website in this folder. Why? good way to keep track of what you've changed and to revert back to an old program if you don't like new changes made to it.
2. Go to downloads.com and download and run HijackThis. Save the log file and date it. If this is really a new computer, this log will tell you what your computer came with so that if any programs or websites make any changes, you'll know. It will also keep you from deleting entries that are needed for the smooth running of your computer later if you should get hijacked. You may want to tell the program to ignore all of these entries so that they don't show up again next time you scan but if you have an HP like I do, you might not want to do that since they come with a lot of unnecessary BS that you may have to end up getting rid of.
3. Again from downloads.com, download and run Spybot-SD. No need to check for problems yet if this is really a new puter. Do check for updates and update. You will need to update it weekly or monthly so you set it up to update automatically or do it urself at your leisure. Click Immunize (the shield button and after the check, the + sign button too). Click mode, click advanced, click Tools, click Resident, click the empty button next to resident "Teatimer" if it does not have a checkmark in it. You can go back to default mode if you don't want to mess with ur computer and exit the program. It will continue to run and will protect you. If you were to run hijack this again, spybot would show up and you would need to put it in the ignore list. When changes are made to your registry, spybot will warn you and ask if you want to allow it. If it's something you did, allow it, if not, deny it.
4. Your computer did come with an antivirus software right? Even so it's probably for a limited trial. Once that ends, buy some antivirus or download a free antivirus like Avast or AVG
5. Make sure your firewall is on! Click Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet Connections, Windows firewall, and check off "On". Some antivirus products turn it off if they come with their own firewall, leave it off if that's the case.
6. Disable dangerous services. Click Start, Control Panel, Performance and Maintenance, Administrative tools, Services. If Telnet Service and Remote Registry are started, stop them by right-clicking and click stop. Then disable them by right-clicking properties and changing the "startup type" to disabled. Those are the security danger ones but you should also stop some useless others. A good list which tells you which to stop and why is Tech-recipes' List. Additionally, I stopped all the Media Center stuff because I don't use it.
7. Create a password for your administrator's account. Then create a guest account and use that instead of the administrator's. With a guest account, malicious things can't be easily downloaded. If you have an HP, remove Vongo before creating a new account unless you want to buy S**tty videos. Truth is I don't use a guest account but I'm sure I'll pay for it later.
That's it. Now you should be less likely to pick up something nasty. Also, this advice is for Windows computers with XP. Additionally, All this should really be done before getting online but not everyone has an old computer to download this stuff. So use a friend's or school computer to download them to disk or usb drive and install before getting online. But this isn't always possible as I did not download before getting online but thankfully I did not get anything in the first few minutes before doing this. At least don't check emails or go to other websites beforehand.