Virus protection recommendations

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. I lost my data to a computer virus and I hope I never have that experience again. What software would you recommend that I install to prevent this from happening in the future?

A. First and foremost, it is important to understand that there is no perfect PC protection -- short of not using a computer -- which is something you probably considered after your most recent experience. If there was a magical program that protected our systems from everything, we would all use it and that would be the end of that. There are, however, many excellent anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware programs, but like everything in life, nothing is forever. Today's super-star anti-virus programs will be replaced over time with tomorrow's super-star programs. That's just the natural evolution of software.

Because I'm so frequently asked what programs I use, I maintain a list of my favorite programs at, which you are welcome to review at any time. I keep the list updated and include a brief profile of each program, as well as a link to its site should you be interested in obtaining additional information or downloading it. For porpoises of full disclosure, I have no fishy financial or other relationships with any product, nor do I accept any advertising, sponsorships or endorsement arrangements, so any program that appears on my Recommended Products list does so because I personally tested it and it performed as represented.

On my systems, I am currently running SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes, both of which are on the aforementioned list. A roster of other excellent anti-virus applications would include, but not be limited to Avast, BitDefender, ESET Nod 32, Kaspersky, Panda and Vipre.

Q. I received photos in an attachment. When I opened the file, filenames such as “IMG_0050.jpg(60.1KB)” appeared. When I attempt to view one of the photos, the message “This file does not have a program associated with it,” appears. What’s going on, Mr. M?

A. If all the filenames are identical in format to the one you included in your question, mystery solved! The format of the filenames is incorrect, so your system can't recognize the files as .JPG files. Because it can’t recognize them as .JPG files, your computer believes that it doesn’t have the requisite program needed to open the files.

To be specific, what you cited as a typical filename, “IMG_0050.jpg(60.1KB),” is an unacceptable format. The (60.1KB) is the size of the file and is not part of the actual filename. Delete that portion, so filenames display in this format: IMG_0050.jpg. To change the name of a file, click to select the file, then press F2 or right-click and select Rename. The three-letter .JPG file extension should be the last part of the filename. Make a similar correction to each of the files received, and the problem will be resolved.

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Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks, and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit