We recently received an email from a concerned reader who’d heard that digital picture frames might contain viruses. While this is not a common problem, the truth is that anything that you plug into your computer and use to transfer files onto your computer , whether it’s a digital picture frame, a USB drive (also called a “thumb drive” or a “flash drive”), or even your own smartphone, can contain viruses.

Here are a few tips to avoid viruses from external devices that you plug into your computer:

Install Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft Security Essentials is popular antivirus software that you can download for free. When you transfer files onto your computer from any device, Microsoft Security Essentials will scan the files automatically.

Use external devices with caution. Don't put an unknown flash (or thumb) drive into your PC. Even if you trust the owner of the drive, don’t open files that you weren’t expecting.

Use the Microsoft Safety Scanner. If you think you might have already downloaded an infected file from a digital picture frame or other external drive, use the free Microsoft Safety Scanner to check your PC.

For more information about how to boost your malware defense and protect your PC.