First in a series of articles about useful things: how to protect your personal computer running Windows when it hooked up to the internet, and do it for free!
A combination of Anti-Virus, Firewall and Anti-Spyware is essential for any general purpose internet user running a windows PC, here are my top recommendations for budget users:
Antivirus: Grisoft’s AVG
Antivirus programs have been around for a long time. This one is good enough for personal use without costing you anything!
Don’t mistake the one built into windows as a real firewall. All the scary stuff makes outbound connections from your computer and Windows can’t stop it.
Never run more than one software firewall or anti-virus product on the same PC, these products integrate with Windows and can conflict with each other. The same is not true (yet) for anti-spyware products which complement each other.