I'm writing this guide as we see so many computers that have been compromised by spyware, adware and the likes. Surprising much less often, however, but we still see the occasional machine that has been attacked by a virus.
I know everyone has seen guides like this in all the PC magazines, but this is a real world guide, not a one-off article. We see problems we have to sort out literally every working day!
If you are going to use the internet, you must, must, MUST protect your PC! Even a few minutes online without protection can be disastrous - I'm not exaggerating.
As a minimum you need antivirus, antispyware and a decent firewall.
Now here’s one of my best tips!
Don’t buy any software. That’s right – don’t! There are lots of reasons for me saying that, and here’s a few:
- It’s all over-priced.
- In order (IMO) to justify the cost, it’s bloated. That is, the software tries to do far too much and as a result it consumes far too much of valuable resources (more on that later)
- IMO there are better alternatives that are FREE.
- I would much rather see you spend your hard earned pennies on some more memory. Again, more on this later.
As stated earlier, you need 3 pieces of software. Don’t be tempted by suites that claim to do it all. These so called Internet Security Suites I find are often a compromise and do not do the best job in any one area. They also consume loads of your precious memory and slow your PC due to large memory resident portions of the suite. And of course, if the suite is compromised for any reason, or accidentally turned off, you lose ALL your protection. Makes sense I think.
Instead look for 3 standalone programs. I strongly recommend:
AVG Free Edition (antivirus)
Zonealarm Free Edition (firewall)
Microsoft Windows Defender (antispyware)
Since we can’t publish off-site links in these guides, just pop the phrases above into a search engine and you’ll find them. Defender is usually on Microsoft’s Home Page.
All are free. All are easy to install and use. All are free to update. All will give you the necessary protection if you keep them up to date. Most importantly, they all have very small footprints – their memory resident portions are small and discreet.
Now, even though you have followed my advice, these programs WILL use some memory, and if you were short on it before you started, you will find that your PC slows a little with them loaded.
I consider 512MB to be the bare minimum for an XP machine these days that wants secure internet access combined with a good turn of speed. If you have only 256MB, you will manage but be careful what other programs you load. Programs like instant messengers, printer status programs, Quicktime, Real Player etc. all want to be resident in the PC’s memory if you’ll let them. Just take a look at the list on the right hand side of the task bar. All those icons represent programs that are running in your computers memory, now. There are a lot more than that as well. Press Crtl, Alt and Del together to start the task manager. Now click the Processes tab. That list is some more programs that are using your PC’s memory. Most are essential, so don’t be tempted to stop them unless you REALLY know what you’re doing.
All this seems a long way from Internet Security. I make the point only to try and convince you of this next, and final, point:
Take all that dosh you saved by NOT buying Norton Internet Security Suite (and the annual upgrade fee) – AND BUY SOME MORE MEMORY! You won’t regret it!