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Security & Utilities Newsletter-07-27-2012

Attached find the latest updates-7-27-2012 of the basic Security tools and utilities that we have found to be of benefit in maintaining our systems and protecting against infections from spyware, viruses and adware. These programs are all free and have some of best ratings in their respective classes.

The programs that have seen updates recently have the version shown in RED.

Clicking on the name of the program should open a link to download the program.

Note that not all of these programs need to be installed and in some cases, such as firewalls and antivirus, only one can be installed or conflicts will occur. For antispyware programs there is a benefit to installing multiple programs and they will play well together while providing better protection overall.

This list of programs includes both the tools required for protection: (these should all be installed)

  • Antivirus - Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Firewall - Comodo
  • Antispyware - SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes

The rest of the list includes the most useful utilities to keep our systems running smoothly and safely: (use where needed)

Often during install, these free programs will default to installing some superfluous toolbars or other add-ons that are not necessary for normal operation. The trick is that they get paid to push those things on us. That is the price we pay we sometimes have to pay for free programs. To keep from getting the unnecessary junk, always use the Custom installation mode and watch those little check boxes so you can UNcheck those options that they leave on by default. We don't really need that Yahoo toolbar or the eBay link.

Also be very careful with those "Special offers" that often come in popups and will read something like "Your computer may be at risk. Click here to protect your computer."

Those are almost always bogus and will contain some sort of contamination.

Another common one to be avoided is the "Registry Booster" which has been deemed to be both dangerous and unnecessary.

The "Special offers" and tricks that are used to get us to buy their "Pro" version further point out the great value of Open Source software. Tools like VLC Media Player and LibreOffice will have none of those confusing offers and just do their required job in the best way possible.

Refreshingly, Microsoft Security Essentials also installs like Open Source even though it is not. Microsoft is to be applauded for not trying to sell us their "Pro" version which makes the current antivirus program very user friendly as well as being quite thorough at protecting our computers. And of particular benefit is that it is non-intrusive so it doesn't keep bothering us with prompts to answer.

Notes:

This month we have one gem of a program that really stands out from the list, the new Secunia 3.0. This is a utility that will check all of our installed programs and will automatically update them for us. This can save us all a lot of time. There are some exceptions for those programs that may need some manual input but in general it appears to do an excellent job of keeping things up to date. Usually after install Secunia will run in the background and keep track of all of our files but if it isn't running it would be useful to run it once a week or so to make sure you are up to date.

Another program update is the current version of Advanced System Care. Back several versions ago with this tool there used to be a Performance Monitor that would sit in the upper right corner of the screen and show the RAM usage, the CPU usage, Disk utilization and Network usage all in a compact little window.

Unfortunately this useful Performance Monitor disappeared a couple versions ago. Turns out that it is still there but it is turned off by default. So here are the steps to turn that useful Performance Monitor back on by default.

Open Advanced System Care, click on More in the top right, then on Settings, then click the box labeled Enable Performance Monitor.
After a reboot the good old Performance Monitor will appear in the top right hand corner of your screen. The first time it comes up it will show a push pin in the top right corner. Click on that to "pin" the Monitor to the screen.

And once a week or so run Advanced System Care and select Deep Care, Scan and Repair. That will do all the scanning and cleaning automatically.

Also on a weekly schedule, you can run CCleaner and do the two tasks: first click on Run Cleaner and after it does a scan click on Run Cleaner again to clean the junk files. Then click on Registry on the left, then Scan for Issues, and when it finishes scanning click on Fix Selected Issues. When prompted to back up the Registry choose Yes and approve putting it in your My Documents. That backup will be valuable in case something goes wrong since you can restore everything that was cleaned out if necessary.

Also be sure to run Smart Defrag and at least once in a while and select Defrag and fully Optimize. That will rearrange the files on your disk in such a way as to make them faster and more efficient to run and start up.

If you have any questions or problems with these programs just send me a note and I'll do my best to help resolve the issue.

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