i have been using a system for a few years now that is fairly inexpensive and will allow you to safley download and evaluate software for threats withought risking infection or permanant damage to your system. to set this up you will need a few things but mostly common sense
the first step is to download microsoft virtual pc or purchase a program like vmware.
install a copy of your computers operating system on the vm making sure that
a: the virtual harddrive has 2 partitions an os and a data
b: make sure the virtual machine addons are installed other wise it is hard to transfer files back and forth.
next install a malware scanner and a virus scanner onto the virtual machine. i use malwarebytes and avira personally
next get a program that resets all data written to the system partition when you restart the vm. an example of this would be deep freeze by feronics. apply a system freeze to C: on the vm.
now if you need a suspicious file you can safley download and even execute inside the vm. if the scanners deem it safe you can transfer it to your main operating system and use it if it is infact infected simply reboot the vm and the entire system will revert to the way it was when you first enabled the system freeze. leave the second partition on the vm unfrozen so you can use it to store any programs you use on the vm but dont want on your primary os. this will allow you to have the protection of a frozen liabrary terminal withought the inconviance of having to freeze and thaw a computer every time you want to change a setting simply use the vm for your high risk activities like face book and ahem naughtier activities
Edited by mikeloeven, 17 February 2010 - 10:31 PM.