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Security & Utilities Newsletter-05-06-2012

Find the latest updates 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 in the pdf Security & Utility 5/2/12.

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 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 Libre Office 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. 

Notes:

Be sure to install and run Secunia PSI. That will keep track of how secure our computers are and give us a percent of protection. It will give you a detailed list of what it found to be safe and what programs need updating. It even provides links to the updates for those programs out of date. Good tool.

Microsoft Security Essentials is still tops on our list because its protection is very good, it is non intrusive and doesn't bother us with lots of questions and prompts. It does its updates in the background and will regularly scan the computer without ever popping up a message unless it finds something.

Note that the antivirus testing and rating services have found a couple of other programs with slightly better records but both of those other programs ask a lot of questions about some rather obscure security issues. MSE on the contrary, does its work quietly. Highly recommended.

One of the programs that has been on our list for a while now is Advanced System Care. It had a fairly recent update to this current version 5.2 and it brings some great new tricks to the table.

It has two levels of "One-Click Cleaner", a Quick Care and a Deep Care. Both provide a single click to both scan and clean your entire system. Easy and fast and very complete. It also sports a rather complete tool box with all sorts of useful things such as a startup manager. Often our computers go slower and slower as they get older and frequently that is because lots of mystery things are starting up without us knowing about them. Each one of those slows down the computer a little and uses memory. ASC provides a startup manager to review just what is starting up and helps with deciding what is necessary and what isn't.

Note that it includes a very nice Uninstaller and typically puts a link to it on the top of the Start Menu that you get when you click on the Start button.

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.

The PDF files, doPDF and Foxit give us some valuable tools to load and read PDF files much faster than Adobe Reader as well as print any file to a PDF file instead of killing a tree and using paper and ink with conventional printing. If you print to a PDF file you can organize your files in folders and make them much more accessible than out in some file folder.

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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