This one’s for my fellow parents. If you’ve got some school-age kids, they’ve likely spent some time at a computer (yours or a friend’s), downloading from peer-to-peer ("P2P") networks like the Gnutella network, which can be accessed via the popular LimeWire program.
According to our research, many of you want to know how to best install LimeWire and use the program, without getting bit by a virus. Today, I’ll show you how.
How to Install LimeWire & Share Files
The company which makes LimeWire will tell you – this is very important – when you go to download the installation file and install LimeWire, you should only do so from the program’s official site! Doing so makes absolutely sure that you have a legitimate version of the program, without the inclusion of any malicious code. Please don’t download from other sources, especially from other P2P networks.
When you install LimeWire for the first time, it’s a good idea to make sure that the program is set to not automatically share any downloaded files. Despite what is often said in the mainstream (read: non-tech-savvy) press, it has been sharing or distributing files, not downloading or receiving them, that has ended up with so many people being brought into court.
One caveat: That setting doesn’t apply to downloads through the BitTorrent network, which LimeWire also supports. In a BitTorrent network (or "swarm"), everyone downloading a file is simultaneously distributing it!
Please, make sure "Search Filtering" is on. Click on the Tools menu near the top, then Options. After the Options screen appears, click on Search, then Configure under Search Filtering. Make sure that the settings are such that programs (executable files) are not included in the search results. Virus code spreads easiest in executable files, opened on accident by users who may not know better.
You may think you’re downloading a photograph, but go to open the file, named HotChick.jpg.exe, which ends up, as my teacher might say, barfing all over your system.
While your top threat is from executable program files, any file you download can be infected with some kind of code. Remember, you’re not necessarily getting these files from a clean server, you’re getting them from other users, who may be unknowingly infected by something. It’s of critical importance to, before doing anything else with a file, to scan it with an updated anti-virus program. This is especially true for those of you who have enabled program downloads anyway.
Once the download is complete, right-click the file listing in your Library, then select Locate on Disk. This will open up your file manager and highlight the file. Right-click on that file, and select the appropriate command to scan your file. Your anti-virus will report to you any infected files, and prompt you to delete said file.
When scouring P2P networks like LimeWire, it pays to play safe. A few preventative steps, plus some common sense, adds up to a safer experience.
If you have any important tips for potential downloaders, please feel free to sound off in our comments.