Even my pet crocodile Spike (a rescue from the pound) can't give my PC the kind of protection he gives my home. Fortunately, Windows 7 wards off the evils and dangers that constantly threaten my PC's well-being. Here's how:

1. My PC's watchman. User Account Control helps prevent undesirables from getting into my PC by alerting me when a software installation or about-to-be-opened program represents a possible threat. By asking my permission before allowing this sort of thing to happen, this feature makes me feel important and powerful as well as safe. Get full details.

User Account Control Settings

User Account Control Settings

2. Thwarting espionage on my system. There are spies—er, spyware— everywhere, and they want onto my PC so they can do highly annoying things like send spam or (worse) grab my personal info. Luckily, Windows Defender keeps them at bay. Find crucial user tips.

3. The Gatekeeper. Windows Firewall prevents both hackers and viruses from successfully attacking my PC. Oh, they can attack. But they can't get in, generally, as long as I use it properly. For all sorts of good ideas on doing just that, review this list of links.

Windows Firewall

Left pane of Windows Firewall

4. Keeping up with the times. As threats evolve, Windows 7 changes too (thank goodness all those software engineers stay on top of this stuff). But this protection only works if I direct Windows Update to download and install enhancements and protective tools automatically as they become available. This showed me how.

Manage Windows Update settings

Manage Windows Update settings

5. Checking the dashboard. All these PC protectors are busy, and I don't want to bother them, but now and then it makes sense to check that they're on the job. That's when Action Center comes in handy: If something looks askew, I get pinged on the notification area of the taskbar. I might forget to renew or check something, but Action Center will remember for me.

Manage Action Center settings

Manage Action Center settings

6. Disaster insurance. Despite all these heroic guardians for my PC, disasters can still happen. Hard drives crash. Power surges surge. And have you watched the weather lately? Yikes. Regular backups, together with Windows 7 backup and restore tools, let me worry less about these dangers. Regardless, I'm getting one of those survival kits for the condo, just in case.

Despite all these security features, Windows 7 cannot stop your neighbor from making off with your prize roses or committing other mischief. For that, you need Spike.

Keith

Note: I am just kidding about Spike. He's not a crocodile, he's a hamster, and I do not recommend crocodiles as family pets.