Protecting Your Computer

Links to free anti-virus and spyware utilities. After installing don’t forget to check for updates and run the programs weekly!

Definitely install Ad-Aware and Spybot, plus use a pop-up ad blocker such as Panicware or Google’s. If you don’t currently subscribe to Norton or McAfee (why would you?) install AVG (important: only one anti-virus program should be running on your machine at a time!!) I also modify my hosts file to block such fine companies as double-click et al.

The one item not listed here is a firewall. Hopefully, your home router has this built-in. If not, please find and install a software firewall, but a hardware firewall is best (nearly all major brands of home routers include one, but it needs to be turned on. check that yours is).

AVG Anti-Virus by Grisoft — freeware and pay versions available

Regular updates keep your system safe, including your email (I use it with Outlook Express). This is a must on all of your machines!

Ad-Aware by Lavasoft — Freeware and pay versions

Go to the downloads page to get the free version.

Spybot Search & Destroy — Freeware

Similar to Ad-Aware but install them both — two heads are better than one and what one doesn’t find the other often will. Spybot also has an immunize feature that is really cool. Will modify your hosts file to flat-out block known ad servers. Also has a realtime plugin for IE that blocks known tracking cookies. Again, I love it, you may find those ads enjoyable.

Windows Update — Free

There is a link to Windows Update built into Internet Explorer and under XP it couldn’t be easier to do, but people still manage to ignore this, the most important service out there — free system patches, drivers, and, especially if you’re running Internet Explorer, security fixes. Run this frequently.

HijackThis, Merijn.org — Freeware

Ever have your Internet Explorer homepage taken over? Well, HiJackThis can help — if you can navigate its amazingly arcane interface. You’ll want to check the help and forums at tomcoyote.org or spywareinfo.com. This is one of those pieces of software that either (a) make you wonder whether the cure is worse than the problem, or (b) prove how over-hyped the share-ware community truly is.

Keep Your System Clean

A clean PC is a happy PC! Prevention and preparedness: block pop-up pages and make backups. Consider an external harddrive (readily available 200CB USB2/firewire for about $150) for backup media, then store it someplace other than next to your PC, your office, for example.

Pop-Up Stopper by panicware — Freeware

IE now has this built-in as does Google’s toolbar, but I still run this pop-up blocker.

Backup My PC now by Stomp — about $70

Backup your data, now. There are some backup utilities built into Windows, but BackupMyPC gets run on this old Win2k machine every other day. Buy an external drive and keep it off site, at a friends or your safety deposit box.