Technorati Profile Small and Home Office Computing Tips: 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Free Anti-Virus and other Utilities

I mentioned in the previous post that there were FREE programs (Anti-virus, Spyware, Firewall) for individuals (or One-Person offices), but I didn't mention WHAT those programs were! My apoligies for that oversight!

These are MY favorites, and there are others out there, so this is by no means the ONLY list of Free Computer Safety software links! If you go to C-Net Downloads (see my sidebar to the right for that link) and type "free anti-virus", you will get 87 results...Today. There might be MORE tomorrow!

C-Net Download is a safe place to download almost any kind of software, since the "Bad Guys" have been creating websites for unsuspecting persons to download free software. The software is not what it is supposed to be, and possibly contains viruses, key-loggers, trojans and all sorts of malware. I am not saying that ALL similar-sounding names are bad sites, but I am cautioning novice users to BEWARE of the possibilities and use trusted sites.

I personally use AVG , ZoneAlarm, and Spybot S&D. I also turn on the Windows Firewall everytime I boot up. One of my other programs turns it OFF, so I just turn it back ON before I try to get online...No big deal, and I feel much better.

I have used all-in-one Security Suites in the past, and I have had problems. They have "holes" in their armor, and if one feature stops working, chances are that something else will stop, too.

If you want to try the above-mentioned software, the official sites are listed on my links at the right. The Spybot can be downloaded from C-Net.

Non-related software that "overlaps" and doesn't conflict is, in my humble opinion, the best defense.

MAC users use this link
Windows users use this link

Free Scanning Utilities to Uncover Conficker

If you haven't already scanned your computer for the dread Conficker worm, PLEASE DO IT NOW! The following links are FREE, and will help discover the worm on your PC, if it exists there...

In case you don't know what the threat is...Conficker is supposed to grab passwords and credit card information and then transmit that information back to its "Master Sites".

The Conficker worm was first released back in December 2008, and has evolved to the latest variant Conficker.C for the April 1st activation deadline. Some sources think that it may even push that date forward to later in the month, or the spring, so that everyone will have their guard down.

The best line of defense for this - or any other computing threat - is to follow these steps:
Make certain that your Anti-Virus has the latest definitions.
  • Use MULTIPLE levels of protection on your computer. Don't rely on a "One Program Does IT ALL" approach to protection.
  • Don't let your computer remember your passwords or other sensitive information. Hackers are always trying to figure out ways to open the "Vault" or the "Wallet".
  • Don't used "Cracked" software. This is one of the BEST ways to invite a virus to your computer, and it is ILLEGAL!
  • Don't download any free programs from unknown sources. If you are looking for Utilities, and other programs such as the ones below, either go to the Company Website, or use C-NET for downloads. Some of those links on the popular search engines are purposely made to sound like the real thing...

The following links will take you to sites for free utilities. I have already used two of them, and have had no problems...and NO WORM so far! I used the Microsoft Live link on one computer, and the Symantec link on another computer. Both will scan ALL drives found on the PC, so be prepared to leave things unattended and offline for a while...

The Microsoft link has the most comprehensive scanner (for anything that might ail your PC), and the Symantec page has the MOST information regarding all you ever wanted to know about this utility, general PC Security practices, and removal of any problems.

Good Luck!

Please follow the instructions carefully for running these utilities. Only one check should do it. If you do have the worm, the Symantec site has the best Removal information.

Microsoft Live Online Scanner

Symantec W32.Downadup Removal Tool (this is the other name for the Conficker worm)

Trend Micro Damage Cleanup Engine / Template

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.35 (this download in on the C-Net site)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taking the Bite Out of 64-Bit

The Hook
Have you noticed the GREAT deals on laptops and notebook computers during the last few months? Some of these fantastic computers have at least 4 GB of RAM, the fastest processors ever offered, always have Vista Home Premium, and sometimes offer Vista Business or Ultimate Upgrades.

And the PRICES!! Have you ever seen such configurations for such low prices? Does this remind you of the old saying "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is"? Well, there IS a catch to the Great Computer-Low Price deal.

(NO, they are not HOT!) It is the 64-Bit Hardware and Operating System pairing that allows these SUPER computer configurations! The Catch is that 64-Bit is not compatible with any older programs and not-so-many of the new ones...

The Catch
64-Bit is the optimum configuration for CAD systems, and Photo Editing software. It supports increased RAM capacity (over 3 GB) and doubled processing power that CAD and Video Editing applications need. However, its power is unnoticed with Office Suites and Databases. Also,many of the older 32-bit software programs (applications AND games) and peripherals (printers, cameras, scanners, etc.) will not work with 64-Bit. It can be a great asset, or a huge headache!

Words of Wisdom
In closing, I suggest that you carefully consider and research the software that you plan to use on your new computer. If you can afford to upgrade your older programs, then 64-Bit will be a wise choice. You certainly won't have to worry about your computer being obsolete before you get it home and out of the box!