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An unprotected Windows system will be become a zombie in about 20 min. on line, so protection is necessary. The least expensive way is:
AVG antivirus free an effective antivirus package
Zone Labs: ZoneAlarm Offers a great free firewall, tons of useful information, and additional utilities, well worth some extra green for the bells and whistles.
Ad-Aware by lavasoft will help find and remove much Ad-ware, and alert you to some "tools" you may have thought were benign.
Spybot - Search & Destroy is the fourth leg which finds and removes problem software.

With these four tools which may be had at one level for free, you can reasonably protect a system with the addition of a great big helping of discretion, like NEVER opening a spam email, no matter how interesting the "subject" may be. The other big anti-virus suppliers do provide some effective tools, but I no longer recommend Norton due to its resource use. To save yourself grief, back up your system,, and remove anything you do not need on it (burn to CD, check, store, and ^Delete), which will speed up defragging, backups, and scans, as well as prevent some other problems.

A Startup Monitor is an additional step that most will be unwilling to use, since it requires you pay attention and approve changes to your startup, which insures nothing can sneak in a startup installation. CNET's is au usefull resource for finding new and current versions with some reviews, and downloads tested for worms and trojans. Zipping files with a password can reduce access to information if your system is breached. Obviously, any file swapping program is an open invitation to crackers and the RIAA.

Some of the more regular programs I have used for years are in my links under MyTools. Utilities...
1) FmEdit Explorer with graphics viewer and text & HTML editor- using it now.
2) IrfanView Excelent (& free!!!) graphics viewer.
3) WorldTime multiple world clocks with net sync (so I see local, NY, & UMT).
4) frhed: Free Hex Editor Hex editor, examine suspicious files.

ZoneAlarm Best free firewall. The log of attempted connections it will produce will scare and inspire vigilance if you look at it.
Mozilla has continously developed Firefox, Thunderbird, and more packages that lack IE's security holes.
Openoffice is a freely available alternative to the MS package, without the vulnerabilities of Word, Xcel, Powerpoint, etc. I do not have the MS package on any of my computers, so I have no MS automation or risks. It does cooperate with MySQL, another very good Open Source package. OpenOffice is a package of remarkable value. With NONE of the MS Office on my systems, I would be at a great disadvantage were it not for the free, open source software, powerful ability to make .xls and .doc files usable. Thanks to

I have written a web based RegExp Search and Replace and Date Converter convert .csv dates between m/d/yy and yyyy/mm/dd used by MySql. Use them all you want, just don't sell them©.

The Microsoft paradigm for the net tends to be an all or nothing design, resulting in frustration, and then a lack of security. Since the Microsoft way is to try to keep everything locked in to MS to maximize its profits, it creates many features without enough thought about control and security, so features to "look cool" and help advertizers, but will allow script kiddies and crackers to access your system. As a result, I avoid those products in favor of products aimed for me. I recommend using .ogg for music and .png for graphics, as they are explicitly public, and royalty litigation proof as a result.


PortableApps is a full suite of my regular tools, including OpenOffice and Firefox, which runs from flash without leaving a footprint on the host system. Very highly recommended!

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