Saturday, April 02, 2005

Cool High-Tech Thing -- Free Computer Security

Securing your computer might be tedious, but it need not be expensive. In fact there are a number of excellent free security-related applications to make you and your computer feel at ease.

Let's start with Anti-Virus. Grisoft delivers a free anti-virus solution with its AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, which is free to home users. I had switched from Symantec's Norton AntiVirus (aka NAV) for these reasons:

  1. The Annual Virus Definition Subscription Fee. Paying this entitled the user to download virus updates for one year. But if you ever reformat your hard drive within that year (which I did twice) you'd either have to pay the fee again or you'd have to contact customer service to receive a special unlocking code in order to download more updates.
  2. Sluggish Performance. NAV slowed my system down quite a bit. It was so annoying, I wound up disabling its real time mode of operation and its email scanner. So I used it only for performing manual scans. Even those took a long time.
  3. No More Support for Windows NT 4.0. The home edition of NAV fails to list NT on it list of system requirements. In fact, just before I switched to AVG Anti-Virus FE, I'd been using the Enterprise Edition of NAV, which apparently even supports DOS. (Sometimes it helps to have a friend in the IT department at work.)
  4. "LiveUpdate" Blocked by Firewall. Every time I wanted to update the virus definitions, I had to download the entire 5+MB universal virus definitions file and install it manually. That's because the program's internal updater, called "LiveUpdate," failed to make it through my computer's firewall. If only they'd give me a range of IP addresses to open up (aside from to But they had too many different servers providing the updates.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition can be downloaded installed and registered for free. Users can easily get differential updates for free. It runs crisply on my Windows NT 4.0 OS. In fact, scans take so little time, I was at first skeptical that it was anything more than a program that popped up a message box to say the file has no viruses.

Coming next... free firewall discussion.

1 comment:

Tirsden Frozenrayn said...

NAV suxxors. That about says it. It can slow any decent system to a crawl, if not lock it up. I've been using AVG for a good two or three years now, and swear by it. I've installed it on other people's computers too (including ones running NAV or McArfy *tee hee*) and AVG immediately found viruses the other programs didn't catch. So the other programs got uninstalled. >D

For an ultra-emergency situation I recommend using Trend Micro's Housecall service. If you can get a computer online you can scan the hard drive using their program over the internet. For free. Very nice.

I use ZoneAlarm (free version) for a firewall, I'm looking forward to what you recommend. ^_^