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How to download files safely

Unless you have been living underneath a rock for the past 10 years, there is a good chance you’ve downloaded a file from the internet before. There is also a very good chance that you have ended up with viruses, spyware, malware and Trojans in the process. Whether you are downloading music, movies, games, applications, text documents or PDFs, there are always inherent risks involved.

Just because a practice has become commonplace does not mean it is without threat. This is especially true for those who rely on peer to peer downloading services to acquire their desired files. Scammers and attackers are well versed in the art of giving their virus-ridden files names that are attractive to the user.

Even downloads that have seemingly gone smoothly can wreak havoc on a computer over the course of time. In order to keep your computer healthy, follow this handy how-to guide on how to download files from the internet safely and securely.

Exercise extreme caution

If you are downloading files from the internet that are being provided by a user or service that seems less than reputable, this is usually a major red flag. Unless you know that the uploading party is a provider of safe, clean files, do not take the risk of downloading. All it takes is one false move to turn your computing world upside down.

You know how the saying goes, better safe then sorry.

Too good to be true? Expect trouble

Chrome malware file warning

For example, user may come across a file for downloading. It may be exactly what they are looking for, whether it is a long sought after attachment, helpful application, or an obscure album. However, the size of the file may be much smaller than the user would have anticipated. This is a sign that the file is a virus masquerading as something safe.

Performing a Google search for a certain file and returning several links that are labeled exactly the same as the phrase you used for searching should be a neon warning sign letting you know that downloading from these sources most likely will bring you only trouble.

Beware underground forums and pages

Chrome warning malware ahead

Sure, it may feel good to circumvent the system and save a few dollars that you would normally be forced to spend on a desired piece of software or digital content. But these forums and webpages are not beholden to any standards of safety and you are placing the health of your computer at risk by downloading from peer to peer services.

Downloading files from unknown sources can be quite risky and should be avoided as much as possible. There is little to no recourse available to a user who downloads a file from an online forum and contracts a virus as a result.

Keep your security software up to date

OS X malware warning

Do not rely on antivirus software that is outdated or downloaded from less than reputable sources. These forms of software are often just trial versions that expire within 30 days and do not provide the proper level of protection. Frugality is a great trait, but when it comes to online protection, saving money in the short term can lead to greater long-term expenses.

Purchase your antivirus, antispyware, antimalware and all other forms of protective software from a reputable source and be sure to update it regularly. Do not use antivirus software that is purchased or downloaded from a site you do not recognize, go for a well-known name that is highly recommended.

Don’t download from sources that require personal information

Phishing site requesting credit card info

Should a download source ask you for personal information, this is a sign that it is an unsafe file and must be avoided. No reputable download provider will ever ask for your credit card information, unless you are making a purchase from a well-known retailer. If you are redirected to a third party site that asks for credit card information, do not give it.

Do you follow any other steps to feel safe when downloading files from the internet? Share them in comments section below.

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