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How To Avoid Printer Viruses From Corrupted Documents


Corrupt documents can transfer a virus to any application that deals with them, and that includes printer drivers and print programs, or any program that uses a printer at all. Viruses can be programmed to cause all manner of difficulty, from deleting files to corrupting the operating system to the point where a new installation is required. Printer viruses have been around for awhile, and target printers without password protection to infect. They don't reside on the printer's microprocessor; rather they infect the main computer. They're called "printer viruses" because they target the printer, usually by sending fraudulent print commands to the printer and using up the paper supply. They're generally more annoying than dangerous.

The best way by far to avoid contracting a printer virus from corrupted documents is to avoid corrupted documents in the first place. That means practicing good computer hygiene: keep your virus catalog up to date, update your virus protection programs to their latest iterations, avoid opening email attachments without scanning them first, and so on. Configure your computer to show all program suffixes, and if a file looks like an executable program, don't open it. Naturally, before anything bad happens, back up your computer completely. If any document comes up as "corrupt" you will at least have a clean copy.

Printer viruses can spread over networked printer LAN's. The best way to avoid this is to have the network run from a server, instead of the box on your desk. That way, any user will have to be authenticated before being allowed access to the network, minimizing infection vulnerability.

Of all the documents that your computer handles Word documents corrupt easily and commonly, and should be paid particular attention to. When corrupted, they'll exhibit various wonky behaviors like system crashes or freezes when you try to open the document, formatting alterations, unreadable characters on the monitor, for example. Ways to avoid corrupting Word docs are: don't work on the document from a CD/DVD, but rather copy it to your hard drive. Don't do what's called "round tripping," that is, copying the document into another program and then back into Word format, repeatedly. This will inevitably corrupt the document. And finally, the document might actually not be corrupted, but rather infected by the Word Macro Virus, which is a different animal. Using antivirus software should clean up the doc sufficiently.

As with any infectious pathogen, cleanliness and vigilance are your best defense against the damage that can be caused by printer viruses. Keep the safeguards designed for this kind of protection sharp and up-to-date, and you can print with peace of mind.

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