Monthly Archives: October 2016

Keep Clean Without Antivirus

Most people sleep better at night knowing their PC is well equipped to thwart oncoming malware attacks. Out of paranoia some actually install multiple antivirus programs — even though that’s overly counterproductive.
Indeed, with everything that you do on your computer and the information that resides on it, the safety of your sensitive data should be top priority. That said, with a little experience you can traverse the World Wide Web in peace with minimal security on active patrol.
Many readers will probably say “no thanks” and slip out the back door, which is totally understandable. I will tell you flat out that most people are better off with some form of antivirus watching over their shoulder. But regardless of whether or not you keep one on guard, having safe browsing habits is essential to keeping your computer malware-free.
To elaborate on that briefly, “safe browsing habits” means that those who spend their days on shady porn and warez sites need not apply. Recognizing the nefarious from innocuous is your greatest line of defense. Typically, malware gets onto a computer by being bundled with seemingly legitimate software, media, email attachments, and so on; so if something infects your system it’s likely you’ve unknowingly let it mosey through the front door.

So why go antivirus-free then?
Call me reckless and lazy, but I’ve found that dealing with antivirus software can be quite a nuisance. You have to come out of pocket for most decent products like NOD32 or Kaspersky, while free alternatives are often less equipped and bombard you with ads or other nags. Many are resource hogs, some will result in incompatibility crashes, and others can be annoying to keep up to date — even more so when it comes to scheduling scans.

All of this is emphasized by Apple’s TV adverts, which place a lot of weight on their alleged no-frills antivirus and malware-free computing experience. Now, I know I’m painting with a broad brush here and that many security products offer good enough protection and few to no quirks. But even when I had an antivirus on duty, it only popped up to warn me twice over the span of years, so worrying about active protection has become an unnecessary burden to me.
Obviously you can’t catch it all, though, and that’s ok. The portal you use to access the Web has changed significantly over the years. Most modern browsers will warn you of a suspicious site, web-based email services scan email attachments, and there are plenty of online utilities that can help you keep safe. In other words, you’re probably more safe online now than ever before, if you just adhere to some common sense guidelines.
How to kick your desktop antivirus software to the curb
As mentioned, visiting trustworthy websites and relying on your instinct is essential, but there are a few tools to help you along the way.

Software updates: Keeping your operating system and applications up to date is vital. This is true regardless of how much protection you have, so be sure to watch for the latest security patches.
Periodical online scans: ESET offers a pretty decent online scanner you can use free of charge (it temporarily installs a small piece of software which you can remove after the scan). Additionally, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware is a very straightforward and hassle-free utility that is worth keeping installed.
I would suggest setting both up before bed every few weeks or as you deem necessary. Running a fine-toothed comb through your system now and again will ensure that nothing has flown under the radar.
Network traffic control: Using the standard Windows firewall in combination with a router that features NAT is generally more than enough to keep your network activity on lockdown.
General maintenance: In between scans, if you feel uneasy about a particular file simply upload it to Virus Total for analysis. Virus Total is a free service that will scan a file with around three dozen mainstream antivirus engines and then show you detailed results for each of them.

Additional protection and final tips: If you happen to use Firefox and want to keep your browser as secure as possible, NoScript allows you to control which sites have permission to run JavaScript, Java and other executable web content. This helps prevent things like XSS and Clickjacking attacks. I find NoScript to be more bothersome than it is worth, but to each his own.
Finally, it’s no secret that avid users of file sharing technology are at a greater risk of being infected. However, there are reputable faces in the torrent and other communities — find them, and stick with ’em. Also, be sure to read comments, as many downloaders will report back with their antivirus’ findings so you don’t have to scan anything yourself.
By taking these precautions, I have kept clean since day one. If you’ve also abandoned the use of real-time protection, tell us how you stay malware-free in the comments.

Did you know?
Having the most commonly targeted operating system, Microsoft recently stepped up its efforts to make the Windows ecosystem a safer place by introducing the free Security Essentials. This anti-malware scanner replaces the now defunct “OneCare” security suite. Looking at early reactions around the web, it actually seems to work pretty well. If you are intent on using desktop antivirus protection you might want to give it a try, or check a few other recommendations here.

Improve Your Computer’s Performance

Tips for Speeding Up Your PC
Few things are as frustrating as dealing with a slow, sluggish computer. When a computer is brand new, it works wonderfully well. Over time, though, its performance can slowly begin to worsen. This happens for a number of reasons, but the biggest culprits are things like spyware, adware and other computer threats that are unwittingly downloaded along with other content while online. You don’t have to download thousands of MP3s, movies or other items to experience these problems, either – nobody is immune to them. Instead of accepting the situation, there are plenty of techniques and strategies that you can use to make it better – a few of the best ones are outlined below.

Strategy #1: Clean Your Computer’s Windows Registry
The biggest cause of slow, sluggish PC performance is errors and problems within its Windows registry. Adware, spyware and other threats usually target the registry, damaging or misplacing important files within it. When it comes to PC cleaning, a daily Windows registry cleaning should be at the top of your list of priorities. However, this should never be done manually – there are too many opportunities for major errors that could seriously damage your PC’s operating system. Instead, invest in a high-quality Windows registry cleanup program and configure it to run once per day – you won’t believe the difference that it makes.

Strategy #2: Remove Unneeded Files
Every time you log on to the Internet or otherwise use your computer, temporary files are generated. They are usually only needed once; however, they don’t disappear on their own. Instead, they accumulate over time until they are cluttering up your computer’s file system and affecting its performance. While it’s possible to remove these files one-by-one, it’s much easier and quicker to use a PC cleaning tool that’s designed for the purpose. Try to do so about one time per week to keep your computer humming along with ease.

Strategy #3: Remove Unneeded Programs
Like many people, you probably download and try out many different programs each month. How many of them do you actually end up using on a regular basis? Chances are, not very many of them. By getting into the habit of uninstalling unused and unneeded programs, you can keep your computer’s file system a lot less cluttered. In turn, your PC’s performance will improve dramatically. You can optimize your computer in this way by using its Add/Remove Programs feature. Its location varies by operating system, but you should be able to find it somewhere in the Control Panel.

Strategy #4: Empty the Recycle Bin
When you click “delete” on a file or a program, it doesn’t go away for good – not immediately, anyway. Instead, it sits in a kind of purgatory in your computer’s Recycle Bin. As things pile up in the Recycle Bin, your computer can start exhibiting some very annoying problems. If sluggish startups and frequent crashes are occurring with increasing frequency – and your computer’s recycle bin is very full – go ahead and empty it. From then on, get into the habit of doing so about one time per week. This small but important strategy can make a huge difference.

Strategy #5: Perform a Disk Defragmentation
Windows isn’t very efficient when it comes to storing files. It actually splits them up, depositing them into whatever spaces are available. The more spaced apart the pieces of a file are, the harder your computer has to work to make them run. The Windows disk defragmentation system tune-up utility works to piece all of those files back together again. The process is a long one, though, and only needs to be done about four times per year. Set it up to run automatically once every three months. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep your computer running in tiptop shape.

When it comes to keeping your computer running optimally, small but regular maintenance is the best way to go. Protecting your PC only does so much; even the most careful Internet users in the world unintentionally download malicious software from time to time. By using basic system tune-up tools, cleaning your computer’s Windows registry regularly, performing regular file-cleaning maintenance and otherwise optimizing your PC, you should be able to keep it in like-new condition for a lot longer. Even if your computer has been performing slowly for some time, beginning this regimen is sure to produce results. In the end, you’ll be able to enjoy a computer that flies along – instead of one that spins its wheels.

All About Recycle Bin On Windows 7 Taksbar

I’m not exactly sure when it became cool to abandon the use of your operating system’s desktop, but a growing number of people these days prefer the “clean” look. Recent releases of Microsoft Windows seem to encourage this. By default, Windows Vista and 7 strip the desktop of all icons but the Recycle Bin.
Try as you may, ignoring this lone icon is impossible. Sure, you can hide it in just a few seconds, but at the cost of losing quick access to deleted files. You could also drag the Recycle Bin icon to the taskbar, but then it will appear pinned under Windows Explorer — requiring an extra click to open and offering half the functionality.
In this tip, we will show you one method of bringing a fully functional Recycle Bin to your Windows 7 Taskbar, so you can clear off your desktop once and for all with little to no compromise.
To get started, we’ll have to bring out the Quick Launch bar. Rest assured, it will not replace the new Windows 7 Superbar — in fact you won’t even know Quick Launch is there. Right click on the Windows 7 Taskbar, hover over Toolbars and click New toolbar.

When prompted to provide a folder directory, enter the following string of text: %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

After doing so, a labeled Quick Launch bar should appear near the clock. Odds are it will have several icons onboard, but since we won’t be using this bar for anything apart from hosting the Recycle Bin I would just delete all of the shortcuts.

Right click on the Taskbar and uncheck Lock the taskbar if it isn’t already. Now, right click on your Quick Launch bar and uncheck Show text, as well as Show title. Finally, right click and hover on View to select the size that your Recycle Bin icon will be — I chose large to match my Superbar icons.

With the Quick Launch bar configured, all you have to do is drag and drop the Recycle Bin onto it. Feel free to grab the dotted lines and drag the Quick Launch bar to your preferred location. I would recommend either pulling it all the way to the left near the Start menu, or all the way right near the clock.

When you are satisfied with the position of your Quick Launch bar, relock the Taskbar and hide the Recycle Bin on your desktop by right-clicking an empty space and selecting Personalize, then clicking Change desktop icons in the left column of the Personalization window and un-checking the appropriate box.

Did you know?
Apple sued to prevent other software companies from offering graphical user interfaces similar to its own. The company lost most of its claims but courts agreed Apple’s Trash icon was original and protected by copyright. Non-Apple software must use other metaphors for file deletion, such as Recycle Bin, Smart Eraser, or Shredder.