Unfortunately, in the Internet age, viruses and other forms of malware tend to spread like wildfires, and it’ getting harder by the day to keep your devices from getting infected by them.
That’s why it’s important to install a high quality antivirus program on your Windows computer, keep it updated at all times and perform a couple of on-demand malware scans on a regular basis.
But all of the above being said, a little due diligence can go a long way towards keeping your machines safe as well.
Although there are plenty of exceptions, many of the malware executables that make their way onto your PC require you to actually click on the file in order for it to spring into action.
Many malicious files that depend on your clicks to activate them end with the file extension .exe. Unfortunately, most Windows PCs are set to hide file extensions from the user.
That makes it impossible to identify potentially malicious files by their extension.
Luckily, it’s very easy to force Windows to display all file extensions, including the .exe extension that’s attached to many malicious files.
Just follow the steps below for your version of Windows…
1 – Press the Windows+E key combination to open Windows Explorer.
2 – Click Organize.
3 – Click Folder and search options.
4 – Click the View tab.
5 – Scroll down and uncheck the box beside Hide extensions for known file types.
6 – Click OK.
Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
1 – Press the Windows+E key combination to open File Explorer.
2 – Select the View tab.
3 – Check the box beside File name extensions.
That’s it! From now on you’ll be able to identify executable files by their .exe file extensions. If you see one, don’t click on it. Instead, stop what you’re doing and run the scans mentioned in this post right away.
Important: Not all files that end in .exe are malicious in nature. That’s why I recommend running a thorough malware scan instead of just deleting the file outright.
Bonus tip #1: This post explains how to make Windows start up with your last-used programs and websites already open.
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