This guest post is from my little brother, Daniel, who has always surpassed me in computer skillz.
When I read How to go from Computer Confused to Software Savvy in 5 Easy Steps, I wanted to share some more tips to help all “computer confused” people of the world. I am one of those people who never pays for software if I don’t have to. I’m also a power user who will not tolerate crud getting on my computer. Today I’m going to share with you my suite of 100% legal and free software that keeps my computer running like a top.
Virus Protector: Avast! Antivirus. This free, ad-less software has seven different “Providers” which protect different aspects of your PC. They include Internet Mail, Internet Messaging, Network Shield, P2P shield, Standard Shield, Web Shield, and E-mail shield. What I like most about this is that you can disable any of them at will. So if you don’t use P2P programs, just knock that one out.
It takes very little system resources too. I like this the most. Growing up, Dad always used the Norton Suite, which was expensive financially and even worse on your system resources. I can’t even tell a difference in system performance when I disable Avast.
So does it protect me? You bet it does! I haven’t had one virus take my computer down since I installed it. It updates its definitions daily and tells you when it does audibly and with a small pop-up.
It’s also very simple to download and install. Once you install, you can just forget about it, unless you have a problem. One small caveat: While it is free for home use, it does require registration. Just fill out the form with as much or as little information as you want, and you’ll receive a registration code. Very simple. I’ve not gotten any spam associated with this registration either. This is why I believe that Avast is the BEST free virus protector out there.
2nd Virus Protector: ThreatFire. Ok, so you’re saying “2nd virus protector? I thought you just said Avast was the baddest of the bad!?” Well, any good PC tech will tell you that one virus protector will never catch everything. And it’s true. You should always have more than one virus protector if you want to keep your computer virus free. This used to be quite a hassle too, no longer, though. ThreatFire is another install- and-forget app. What makes it different will require a little bit of explanation though.
Traditional virus protectors (like Avast, Norton, AVG, etc.) need “definitions” of viruses in order to detect them. These definitions tell the scanner what to look for. If you don’t keep your definitions up-to-date, then new viruses can wreck havoc on your system.
New virus protectors, like ThreatFire, monitor your system constantly and if a program does something suspicious (like make a copy of itself or capturing keystrokes), it instantly stops that program and asks you what to do with it.
This way, you could be the very first victim of a new virus, and ThreatFire will stop it from hurting you or anyone else.
When it catches a program doing something naughty, it gives detailed information of the program, its location, and how dangerous ThreatFire thinks it may be. That way, you’re not completely in the dark about what’s happening.
Just like Avast, ThreatFire is not a resource hog. ThreatFire is a valuable tool to catch new or undocumented viruses!
Spyware/Malware Protection: Spybot Search and Destroy. This is the best free spyware detector I have used.
In order to keep it effective, you must update it every time you use it. The scan times are also around 10-15 minutes, but I deem that a small price to pay in order to keep my computer running at its peak. One of the coolest features it has is “Immunization,” which works by “immunizing” your browser against thousands of known threats. I don’t know how it does this, but since using this feature, my problems have gone from 30-40 per scan down to 2-5.
Another feature I love is Spybot SD Resident. This feature alerts you every time your registry is altered by any program and will let you allow or deny this change. This may sound a little daunting to beginningers, deciding which to allow and which to deny, but really it’s very simple: If you recognize the program making the change and you want that program running, allow it. If you don’t know what it is, deny it.
The main thing about Spybot Search & Destroy is that you must remember to run scans! I try to do it once a week. If you don’t, the immunization will save you from lots of things, but for 100% protection, you must remember to scan regularly.
This software will run on almost any operating system including Linux, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. The only major OSes it won’t run on are Mac OS and Mac OSX. (Chances are you won’t need it if you’re using those anyway.) It’s also available in just about any language too, so it’s ideal for everyone from poor African families running Windows 95 up to rich Americans on their smartphones.
These are the programs I use to keep my computer free of all internet crud, and if you simply install them and remember to run Spybot every week or two, you also can have a virus, spyware, and malware free PC. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments section!