The Internet is very new in terms of available human technology. Considering how much information is available at your fingertips I feel obligated to catch those up who are either intimidated by the rumors of Internet viruses, or those who do not see a need to use it for anything besides social networking and killing time at work or school. For the first time in the history of the world a seemingly infinitude of information can be used to meet any question, want or whim. Knowing where to look to find the good stuff and not the ads, spyware, adware, link redirects and viruses certainly helps.
I've been downloading from the Internet since 28.8 modems were top of the line, I think I was in 6th grade, maybe earlier. I have downloaded everything from music to videos to movies to pictures to games to programs to books to everything I wanted or could use. I even downloaded things I had no use for, just because I could.
I'm going to use this first post to catch you up to speed on some of the things that may scare you away from Internet use, first up VIRUSES.
This was a primary concern when I helped my grandparents set up their home network, security, security, security. Over the course of my use i have encountered several viruses, and as a result had to reformat, reinstall and reupdate multiple computer rigs. the keyword here is the prefix "re-". Problems with viruses for me occurred most frequently using P2P networking clients (a client is a program, dont get all jargoned out already) such as limewire, emule, edonkey, kazaa, napster, etc.
The way these networks work is that when you search for a song, say for instance "Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven", the client searches for users who have allowed access to their hard drive databases, and shows you a list of files. The more people have the file, the more people you can download from, the faster the transfer rates, and the more reliable the completion of the download. There are tons of search results, and in order to download a more obscure song saaaay, "Yimanya - Filterheadz (Markus Schulz Coldharbour Remix)" you may find yourself downloading multiple search results. These clients dont take into account the file name in the search results, so when you think you may be downloading an *.mp3, you may really be downloading a *.pdf, *.doc, or worse case scenario a virus *.exe, or a trojan virus embedded in your *.mp3. These corrupted files are not filtered by the client and the files available for download are exactly the files on the host computer.
P2P Clients have their uses, that usage should be limited to being used as a last ditch effort, for downloading extremely obscure files, or if time is an urgent concern. And if you do choose to use it, be aware of the viral risk you are taking.