You've received a lot of good advice here. I'll offer my 2¢:
- AV's: As mentioned, it's a very subjective topic. Here's an example. I switched to Norton AV about 1.5 years ago. So far, it's been my best experience after my previous 2 AV's for my home PC's.
Other PC users will provide a 180° point of view about Norton. Their experiences are as valid for their specific results are are mine with the same AV.
My previous AV product was ESET. I wasn't satisfied with its track record on my PC. At the same time, it's recommended by several members at this site for good reasons. Their experiences with it are good.
I'm also running MBAM (Malwarebytes) Pro on my 2 PC's in addition to a family member's PC. MBAM (pro version) is designed to run simultaneously with the AV product. It is not a second AV tool. I've been running it alongside Norton with no conflicts. It's providing a dual-layer defense strategy as MBAM's engine does not scan using the same methods as the mainline AV product scanners. However, this topic is a hot-button topic on the 'net so it's another one of those things where the PC user's decision is what matters for their individual choice.
More good advice provided to you from the other members.
I'm using Acronis (2011) paid version for my primary cloning tool and Macrium Reflect (free ver) for my Imaging tool. I've tested both with each backup process (Cloning & Imaging) but I prefer to use them as mentioned since Acronis clones faster on my PC vs Macrium. It takes about 10 minutes to clone my C HDD with Acronis vs about 25 minutes with Macrium. I'm not sure as to the reason but it's not an issue with me using either tool for cloning.
If you're running a Desktop PC and have expansion room in your tower for additional 5.25-inch bays, I'd recommend this handy accessory (Amazon U.S. site link):
Kingwin KF-1000 Sata Hot-Swap Trays
I've had 2 of these installed in my Desktop PC for about 3 years. They're really nice and a convenient way to run backup tools or to provide a fast removal and installation of your HDD's for additional storage capacity.
Cloning and Imaging:
Both, imo, are great ways that provide a complete hard drive backup method that will allow you to recover fast from HDD failures, virtually all malicious incidences, and user errors (bad downloads, Registry edit mistakes, etc).
I clone my Desktop PC once every 2 weeks and my Laptop about once every 6 weeks. I also Image (full-HDD) occasionally for redundancy. I store my images on an external HDD that's connected only during image processing. The reason for that is to isolate the storage HDD from my PC, in the event of any "encryption" malware incidences or other infectious objects that may penetrate my AV defenses.
I prefer both methods (cloning & imaging) since cloning provides me a faster plug-and-play recovery method from any HDD issues as well as providing a spare ready-to-use HDD on the shelf.
Imaging provides flexibility for redundant full-HDD backups as well as the ability to store multiple images on a single storage HDD. I have a couple of my Laptop images, a family member's image, and a few of my Desktop PC images all stored on my storage HDD.
My advice regarding the overall backup topic is:
- Verify the methodology. Insure that any "Rescue" media (CD/DVD's in my case, also can be bootable USB sticks) will boot with your PC. For this reason, I always clone and image by booting up on the tool's Rescue/Recovery media so that I know if a worse-case situation occurs ("C" HDD replaced, no OS to boot from), my full-HDD recovery method works.
For many backup tools, running the process from bootable media isn't necessary but I like to verify the "recovery" process.
- Maintain a backup plan for full-HDD and some kind of incremental method. That way, if you need to recover your HDD, you'll have copies of your "must-have" items, those things that are frequently edited or changed, such as a client e-mail tool data file ("Outlook", etc).
I'm using Acronis to run a twice-daily unattended specific-item backup which backs up several of those "can't lose" items on my PC. Since that requires a continuously-attached device (USB HDD), they are vulnerable to some types of malware ("Cryptolocker", etc).
Due to that possibility, I also copy those same specific items to another external USB HDD that's connected only during my "copy" process which takes about 10-15 seconds to copy since I use a "file copy" script to eliminate the "drag/drop" or copy/paste manual methods.
If my C HDD fails, or if I get hit with malware, I'll install my cloned HDD and be booted up and running as normal in minutes. After that, I'll copy my specific items back to the replacement HDD.
Then, the only thing remaining is to sanitize my original infected HDD and clone back to it from the working spare HDD, and then verify the new spare HDD by booting up on it and running it to insure that all's well.
I've used this recovery method a couple of times over the years.
- IE Uninstall: I only use IE myself but the other members have provided excellent advice on that topic.
Backup is not an option. It is a must. And backups should be placed anywhere outside the system hard drive.
Can't say it better than this . If most home PC users did this, the number of posts at BC and elsewhere that seek out malware-recovery assistance would drop significantly.