Monday, December 04, 2006

Essential Software

The Internet can be a wild place. According to statistics, an unprotected (Windows based) computer only needs to be connected to the internet for 12 minutes before getting infected. Also, a PC user probably wouldn't even know that their machine has been compromised. So, with some justifiable paranoia, I try to protect my computers with Internet Security software. I tend to go for the "Internet Security Suites", which can be frustrating at times. These software Suites usually include most of the security software components you need, like an antivirus, a firewall, anti-spam (sometimes more trouble than it is worth) and more recently anti-spyware.

Of course it is possible to put together your own "best of breed" Internet Security Suite from commercial or free software. I often go this route with either an new PC which already has some protection (usually a trial of an antivirus and a firewall) or an older one which is not used much. The main problem with this is that the software components from different vendors can cause conflicts and false alarms.

I've had Webroot Spysweeper raising alarms because a Norton component was trying to modify the "Hosts" file - I figured that I trusted the Norton utility although it was doing something it shouldn't. Other conflicts could possibly cause system crashes.

So far I've tried Norton Internet Security Suite (twice), McAfee Internet Security Suite (once, which was one too many), System Suite Professional (The utilities seem better than the Antivirus an Firewall, but it hasn't been really problematic) and finally ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite which is top-rated by PC Magazine. PC World recommends Norton Internet Security Suite, but I've found it to be bloated an somewhat sluggish. The background virus scan also slowed computers down, although it may have been improved in later versions.

Although ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite generates a lot of popups. I've basically standardized on it at home - having bought copies for 3 of my machines. It has a 30-day trial version, which is well worth trying if you want to see what the full suite is all about. After the trial period it simply runs as the free ZoneAlarm Firewall.

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