Monday, January 12, 2009

Practice Safe Computing!

Got a message on Facebook from my brother-in-law, who is diligently installing Office 2007 in a virtual machine on his MacBook for his online class this semester at NoVA:

ANYWAYS, i was wondering if you suggested any good (and free) antivirus/spyware/firewall software since i will now be plagued by windows. thanks for the help! hopefully this will give you something to do at work, instead of playing with sharpies.

I love Sharpies. :)

Don't bother downloading/installing firewall software, just make sure that Windows Firewall is turned on, and check the exceptions list to make sure there's nothing stupid in there. That's all that I do on my XP/Vista installs.

I use the free version of AVG Anti-Virus (the old 7.5 version, not the current 8.0 version). It's not quite as slick as McAfee or other commercial AV packages, but it works for me, and it's fairly light on resource utilization. It only uses about 10MB of memory, compared to over 100MB for McAfee AV, which definitely helps in virtual machines. You can download it from:

Avast! antivirus Home Edition works well too, some folks prefer it to AVG. Also available for free from:

If you're a careful and conscientious PC user, and install a firewall or address-translating router (like a Linksys WRT54G) between your PC and the Internet, and browse with Firefox + AdBlock Plus + NoScript, and don't visit malicious sites, and don't download software you don't need or aren't familiar with, and keep your system patches + antivirus up to date, there's no real need to run anti-spyware/malware software. If you feel the need to burn memory and CPU cycles and disk time to defend yourself against malware, I'd recommend Windows Defender:

It works, and isn't a complete and utter pig.

If you do find spyware or malware on your PC, AdAware still works for detection and removal. I know there's newer tools out there, but I haven't had issues with AdAware, so that's what I use.

Good luck!

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