Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Windows Protection Options

It's a known fact that if you are running Windows you should have a working anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed and up to date.  If you purchased your computer 2 years ago, odds are that your anti-virus free subscription to updates is expired.  This means that at some point your anti-virus stopped receiving updates and any virus that is discovered after that point is not known about and therefor you are not protected against.

The other problem is that most of these "catch all" programs eat up processing power from your computer.  So, after trying different solutions, I discovered the following combination that I use. Also, toss in a little common sense.

First, the anti-virus.  AVG makes a great product called AVG Free, now at version 9.0 and available here.  This software is very easy on your system, has daily updates and scanning and best of all...it's FREE.  In addition, another good antivirus choice would be Avast, available here, and now Microsoft has a suite of utilities called Security Essentials available here.

Second, the anti-spyware.  Microsoft not only makes Windows, but they also make a free anti-spyware solution that comes pre-installed on Windows 7, but you can get it here if you have Windows XP or Windows Vista.

If you use these programs, keep them up to date and use some common sense while browsing the internet and installing software, you should be OK.  Just one word of warning, you should choose only one antivirus and anti-spyware program to run at a time.  If you wish to try a different program, uninstall the previous program you have installed.

One last program I use is MRU Blaster which can be had here.  It isn't known if it works on Windows 7, but  it works for all other versions of Windows.  It's primary function is to keep your "Most Recently Used" lists clean..and if you run and configure the software you will see what I mean.  It runs every 15 minutes to cleanse these lists but has 2 additional plug-ins not enabled by default.  First it can clean cookies.  A cookie is a little piece of code that stores things about websites you visit and for the most part are harmless.  Some cookies store your name/password for websites when you tick that little checkbox that states "remember me".  If the cookie is deleted then you must re-enter your name/password when you next visit the site.  This plug-in gives you the ability to keep selected cookies from being deleted and you can usually tell the ones you want to keep by looking at their full name.  If you see a cookie for "yahoo.com" and you know you visit yahoo.com on a regular basis and do not wish to have to re-type your name/password each time, make sure you add this cookie to the exceptions list so it isn't erased.

The second plug-in is more important.  Your computer keeps a temporary directory where it stores all the lovely things that make up web pages, such as graphics and misc. files.  Viruses also live out of this area.  This plug in will clean that directory every time the program does it's thing and can be configured to also do a secure deletion .