|HOME||FREE STUFF||CODING SERVICES||HOSTING SERVICES||ARTICLES||CONTACT|
Hosting Services Support
How to Secure your Computer with Free Software
We're all concerned with the possibility of viruses and malware infecting our computers. And, of course, we want to get the best protection we can for the lowest possible price.
The amount of protection you need depends to a large extent on your computing practices. If you are diligent about using safe computing practices, then securing your computer will be fairly simple. A single virus scanner and one spyware scanner may be all you need.
If you prefer to take more risks online, you will need to take your security software much more seriously. You will want to choose one virus scanner and one spyware scanner to be your primary line of defense. You will also want additional scanners to run periodic scans that may find what your primary scanners missed.
Virus scanners tend not to play nice with each other. It would be nice to be able to install one scanner to stay in your systems memory and monitor system resources and have another 1 or 2 for occasional scanning. However, these days all virus scanners want to be your main system monitoring application, they usually don't have an "only scanner" setting.
But it is still often useful to get a second opinion. Luckily, there's a selection of online scanners you can use. They've been set up so that you can take full advantage of their scanning engines without the need to install their whole product on your system.
These online scanners make excellent additions to your security routine:
Bit Defender Free Online Scanner
Trend Micro House Call
Kaspersky Online Scanner
Most online virus scanners require Internet Explorer. Copy and paste the above URL's into IE and follow the on screen instructions to scan your system.
As for your main virus scanner, you have a few options if you want to go the free route. Any of the following should provide you with solid protection:
AVG is the most often recommended virus scanners among the selection of free products. It does a good job of detecting viruses and is light on system resources.
Avast is also often recommended as a free virus scanner alternative. Avast boasts a 5 star endorsement from Cnet, and won the SC Readers Choice Awards for best Antivirus.
Antivir scores very highly on many virus scanner comparisons. It has been listed as one of the best scanners available by PC World Magazine, and scored the best among the free alternatives.
There are, of course, other free scanners that may provide adequate protection. These are the ones most often recommended. These companies are considered to be quite trustworthy, you shouldn't have any reservations about putting your security in their hands.
One word of caution however. If you believe that you are at high risk for contracting computer viruses, you may want to consider a commercial virus scanner and a subscription to their virus database. The highest scoring virus software on any comparison is always a commercial package. I would recommend Kaspersky ( http://www.kaspersky.com ) - it's light on system resources and very aggressive at defending your computer. It's virus database is updated more often than any of it's competitors.
On the side of spyware and malware scanners, there's a very nice selection of free options to keep you safe:
Microsoft's Windows Defender:
Windows Defender is a free product from Microsoft. It is the direct descendant of the well regarded Giant Antispyware program, which was bought out by Microsoft in 2004. Windows Defender makes an excellent resident scanner to constantly monitor your system's activity.
Spybot Search & Destroy:
This is one of the favourites of the free spyware scanners. It has an intuitive interface and a decent scanning engine.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Personal:
Ad-Aware is another popular free adware/spyware scanner. It's database is updated frequently and the scanning engine is very thorough. The interface is a little clunky at times, but that's a minor issue when you consider the value that you're getting.
Ewido Anti-Spyware (Now AVG Anti-Spyware):
Ewido was an excellent anti-spyware scanner on it's own. It's now been bought out by AVG and re-worked to be AVG Anti-Virus' best friend. If you have AVG Anti-Virus, you may want to consider using the Anti-Spyware as well.
A-Squared Free Anti-Malware:
This software is very easy to use. It is regularly updated and scans your system very thoroughly
Most free anti spyware applications do not give you the option of continuous system monitoring. Windows Defender is one of the few that gives you this option. A good setup would be to use Windows Defender as your main anti-spyware program and run these competing products scans on a regular basis.
If you're looking up spyware/malware scanners not listed here, please keep in mind that there are a lot of frauds out there. Many companies offer you a free scan in which they purposely include "False Positives" in order to get you to buy. This means that they will tell you that they've detected malware on your system that is not really there.
If you already have a scanner, you may be fooled into thinking that this new scanner is detecting things that your current scanner completely missed. Before you shell out big bucks for the extra security, make sure to do your research. A thorough google search should be able to tell you if this company is suspected of such shady business practices.
As for regular scanning, a good strategy is to keep your computer on overnight and to have your scans running during that time. This way you can view the results in the morning and not have to worry about the extra system resources being taken up while you're awake.
Once you've chosen your scanners, you should also consider switching your browser. Internet Explorer is often the target of malware attacks. Switching to an alternative like Firefox can make your internet browsing experience much safer.
Above all, try to follow safe Internet practices. If you prefer to take some risks, please try to be smart about it. Make sure you're covered with good software and at least weigh the risks before clicking on anything. At least some degree of caution should always be employed.
So have fun, be safe, and enjoy your Internet experience!