The title of this article speaks for itself, however preparing a Windows based computer for a life connected to the internet is not as plain sailing as it used to be.
With the amount of viruses, worms and trojan horses on the web increasing almost exponentially it's vital to make sure your computer is protected the minute you connect it to the internet.
Reports earlier this year suggest that an unpatched unprotected PC can be infected in less than 30 minutes!
The first thing I do when I've finished installing a fresh installation of Windows is to install a personal firewall. I recommend Zonealarm, it's very good and a free version is available from the link below.
Do this before connecting to the internet, if at all possible try to gather a collection of useful tools on a CD-ROM. The CD-ROM should contain a personal firewall, anti-virus software and the most recent Windows Service Pack for your version of Windows.
If you don't have the Windows Service Pack on CD then you'll need to download it. Make sure your personal firewall is up and running, then go to WindowsUpdate.com. Follow the instructions and download all the 'Critical updates'.
Once your updates have downloaded and installed restart your machine and install your anti-virus solution. I recommend the excellent AVG from www.grisoft.com, which also has a free edition.
You may also find that using an alternative web browser to Internet Explorer such as FireFox (www.getfirefox.com) or Opera (opera.com) will significantly reduce your risk of web borne viruses and spyware.
Zonealarm personal firewall