Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I safely get security software onto my newly reinstalled machine?


I recently did a clean install of my OS, but I did not backup my antivirus
software and had no way of getting one, so I decided to download one from the
internet with only the firewall running: Windows firewall and no security patches
for Windows had been updated either. Was this a bad idea? And what were the
chances of getting infected by doing something like this?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #10
, I talk about downloading anti-malware tools (from a trusted
source) when starting up a machine from a clean install.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Downloading virus protection software

It was not a bad idea.

I typically do something like that myself when I start up a new machine and
start fresh.

Will you get infected?

What are the chances? Pretty low.

Here are the ways you protected yourself:

Make sure that the firewall is on as soon as possible. In fact, most current
versions of Windows do that for you automatically. They start with the firewall
turned on. That prevents malware out on the internet from accessing and
infecting your machine.

  • Two, download security first

The next most common way that malware infects your machine is to be invited
in. By that I mean, you click on a bad website; you download a file that’s
infected; you open an infected attachment in email.

As long as you avoid all of that, don’t start surfing the web, don’t start
downloading other files, don’t start opening attachments that are in your
email, you should be fine. Focus first on downloading your anti-malware from a
trusted source and then installing those.

‘You done good!’

In my opinion, that is not just reasonable. That’s a pretty safe way of
bootstrapping the security of your system.

So offhand, I’d say the chances are pretty low to get an infection, and you
done good!

Next – Can a virus be transferred into our system, or our router, from our granddaughter’s smart phone?

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

4 comments on “How do I safely get security software onto my newly reinstalled machine?”

  1. Only once, when I was setting up a new machine from scratch, did I get a virus as soon as I went online to download my anti-virus software. Some random IP address attacker must have gotten me. That’s the only time I’ve *ever* gotten a computer virus in my life. But I didn’t have the Windows firewall turned on. Big mistake! I always make sure I have the firewall enabled first thing now.

  2. Additionally, why not simply copy over any A-V software available on your old PC, using say, an SD Card, before you even think about going on-line?

    I usually save such software in a DOWLOADS Directory, with Sub-Directories (Folders) for different ones.

    So even if slightly out-of-date, they are likely to provide more protection, than nothing.

  3. Have a copy of an anti-virus (Avira, Avast, AVG, etc) on a flash drive or CD/DVD. Download and install it on the ‘new’ machine before it’s connected to the internet.

  4. I’ve re-installed my OS several time in the past few years and I always save my anti-malware apps on a flash drive along with any apps I think are necessary (for me).
    That way I can have the good guys up and running before I get online and the first thing I do is update them.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.