I'm one of those who makes decent money fixing people's computers. I'm an independent, someone who has gained many clients through my years of knowledge, buying and selling, building, networking, and repairs.
Do you want to know how I keep my own computers running well?
1. I use a hardware router, Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, it doesn't matter. And I don't use extreme security settings.
2. I use Firefox as my browser. Maybe once every few months I'll use Internet Explorer to achieve something I can't with Firefox, and that's usually for experimental purposes. A few years back I got fed up with all the crap invading my computer EVERY FEW MINUTES with IE. Switched to Firefox, and the whole internet world opened its arms to me. I never looked back.
I CANNOT use Firefox without some enhancements. They're called extensions. NoScript is the most important, it won't allow a single site to run scripts (including bad ones) without your approval. Next is Adblock Plus, something that speeds loading times with every click as it blocks all those "leecher" ads from loading. I compliment that with AdBlock FiltersetG Updater.
Go to http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ to learn all about it.
Also, I always install SpywareBlaster. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it helps keep the bad guys out. That's always good.
3. CCleaner. It's a simple small free program I couldn't live without. It takes mere seconds to eliminate all my internet history, cookies and cache. Not to mention emptying the Recycle Bin, and it even has a simple Registry cleaner.
CCleaner is not a security program, it qualifies as a utility. But it makes all my security scanning programs almost completely worthless. I know, I've tested it too many times. After a week or so of internet usage I've run Spybot or AdAware to see they would find the usual list of benign cookies. Running CCleaner first makes AdAware, Spyboy S&D, Ewido, and even Doctor Alex a waste of my time. They all find nothing, for about 2 years now.
4. Background programs. I DO NOT ALLOW programs to load and run with Windows. Install your camera software, scanner software, TV tuner software, DVD media player, sound card and mixer, Itunes, it doesn't stop. They all want to be in your face every minute you are on your computer. And they are constantly hovering, waiting for you to request their services, at the cost of your time and RAM. Why do they do this? Obviously it's greed.
So you shut them down. And still they occupy CPU cycles while they constantly seek updates because you didn't STOP that also!
I use my digital camera about once every few months, my scanner even less. Why do they embed their software up my operating system's wahoo?
5. Email. Not much to say, I simply DON'T allow HTML to get through all three accounts. All my email accounts are set up for "text only", so the crooks can't can't infest my computer as easily. I also take the time to block the address or domain of every spammer, and only get about 2 unwarranted emails a year. I'm very serious.
And my life will never be changed by ANYTHING I read in an email. It's email for gosh sakes! When I read "Your Paypal account has been accessed by a third party", I laughed. I logged onto Paypal to see it was only a scammer's attempt to get me to react through clicking their link to provide them with my account information. THERE ISN'T A SINGLE EMAIL THAT WOULD EVER RAISE MY BLOOD PRESSURE!! Nowadays they can install scary stuff in your PC as soon as you open their email, unless you use "text only".
I almost wish they would still try, but it's been over 2 years since the last scam emails.
THAT ABOUT SUMS IT UP.
I don't use an antivirus although I wouldn't recommend that to all common users.
And I download through torrents (filesharing) while surfing Russian Porno sites. I'm a registered hacker on a few gamer sites. Sometimes I go down those dark internet alleys looking for trouble, and I always find nothing.
I'm also an established member of eBay, almost 5 years of buying and selling on 2 accounts. Established means I'm also an active member of their communities, the Answer Center and different Groups.