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Please Read My Story And Give Me Recommendations

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#1 Mark hayenga

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 12:09 AM


Last week around Tuesday my mother complained that her computer was getting slow. She complains about things like this a lot, and usually all it takes to fix it is a reboot or removal of spyware or something easy. So I didn't think about it.

Normally I am running Symantec AV and Windows Firewall and have never personally had a problem with viruses on this system. Until two days later. I wiped my own machine clean and re-installed WinXP as part of my annual computer ritual to appease the gods of kludgy-ness. First thing that got installed was AV software, next thing that got installed was wireless ethernet adapter so I could download nForce2 & graphics card drivers. You know, the basic stuff. Not even 30 seconds after the internet adapter was installed and the machine was at a craaaaaaawwwwllll. Virus/Trojan city. Apparently the viruses were newer than the definitions I had on my AV install CD, and they got me before I got updated definitions via the net.

So I run scans on Mom's machine, which had AV software but no recent definition updates, and on all the other networked machines in the house (since my machine was already infected, I wiped the MBR as well as formatted the HD). Mom's computer was infected with 3 viruses in her mail directory, and an old laptop in the house was infected with 4 (laptop was very surprisingly not running any AV software). The other two machines (my Dad's business machines) were thankfully un-affected due to proper AV & Firewall software being installed and being regularly updated on them (thank you Dell for installing AV and firewall software and setting it to update automatically).

Anyway, the laptop (which was really old) got junked since it had stuff wrong with it hardware-wise as well. Mom's machine got all her picture files burned to CD after re-updating her virus definitions, catching 3 viruses, and quarantining them. That machine was then wiped including the MBR and re-formatted, and was totally disconnected from the network. It's old enough to be a junker/salvaged for parts too. Since she has had problems with viruses in the past on all the windows machines she has had, we have recently purchased her an iMac that is about a year old (it is the most recent iMac I think). She has all these 60 year old friends that love to send her joke emails and attachments in .eml format and whatnot. She's gotten a lot better since a few years ago, but is still having problems apparently. So hopefully the iMac with proper AV/Firewall software will put this issue to rest for her.

So that takes care of Dad's machines, which weren't affected, and Mom's machine. My machine, however, needs some new AV software. The old software I was using was purchased as a student-licensed copy while I was an undergrad, and is old Symantec software (doesn't include a software firewall, just AV). I would like to upgrade my AV/Firewall software to something that's very reputable. I don't mind spending money at all, my computer has very important data on it that if lost would be impossible to replace (I am also looking at back-up software).

Anyway, long story short - I need AV/Firewall software that is GOOD. At any (reasonable) price (<$100 preferably). Symantec/Norton seem good. Also I am looking at ZoneAlarm, which looks like a better deal. I also use Ad-Aware personal for spyware on all my machines.

So what should I be looking at for AV/Firewall Software? What should I be looking at for backup programs? I could just burn a DVD of all my important data once or twice a month, but I am looking for something more regular and automated than that.

Also, AV software that allows me to download definitions on one machine, burn them to a CD, and then install them on another machine would be VERY nice. That would keep me from having old definitions and then having to connect to the net to get new definitions, leaving me vulnerable during the interim.

And finally, what is good AV software for an iMac? I want email scanning, regular scans of the whole machine using frequently and automatically updated definitions, and a firewall. I am a total noob at macs, so any help is appreciated.

I know this is a lot of questions, but I would be happy to paypal any experts who take the time to thoughtfully address my questions. I hate it when people bug me for expertise that I never get paid for, so I respect that your answers take you time and that your knowledge is worth something.

Thank you for your time in reading this,

Mark W. Hayenga

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#2 tg1911


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Posted 29 August 2006 - 12:49 AM

No need to spend money for good programs.
Check out the programs listed here:
Freeware Replacements For Common Commercial Apps
They're all recommended and used by our members, and are spyware/malware free.

Any one of the free AV's listed will be less of a system hog than Norton.
Try a few different ones, and see which you prefer.
They should all fulfill your requirements.

The most recommended Firewalls are:
Sygate Free
ZoneAlarm Free

I use all freeware and haven't had any problems in over 4 yrs.
In addition to Ad-aware, I do recommend you add more to your spyware/malware arsenal though.
At a minimum:
Ewido - Windows 2000 and XP only
Spybot S&D

Edited by tg1911, 29 August 2006 - 01:21 AM.

MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P, CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Deneb BE, HS/F: CoolerMaster V8, RAM: 2 x 1G Kingston HyperX DDR2 800, VGA: ECS GeForce Black GTX 560, PSU: Antec TruePower Modular 750W, Soundcard: Asus Xonar D1, Case: CoolerMaster COSMOS 1000, Storage: Internal - 2 x Seagate 250GB SATA, 2 x WD 1TB SATA; External - Seagate 500GB USB, WD 640GB eSATA, 3 x WD 1TB eSATA

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#3 jgweed


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Posted 29 August 2006 - 10:54 AM

I have never been a fan of all-in-one software, especially when security is concerned, for several reasons:
1. The coding is often bloated and clunky, because the conglomerate was created by patching together one core application to others that became available as a result of acquiring other companies.
2. These companies are purchased because they focused on one product, and did that well; once acquired, the specific product does not maintain that strong focus. Hence, the all-in-one package tends to be uneven in the services it provides.

For the most part, there are free applications that provide the same basic functionality as commercial ones (in many cases, a company will provide a free version as an inducement to purchase its more fully-featured product). The user can try these out before building his own "suite" of specialised applications at no cost expect some time in downloading.

Backing up data and applications is always a sound plan, and is as much about self-discipline as about anything else for the non-commercial and more casual user. Most disaster recovery plans recommend storing the data in a permanent format that can be kept physically separate from the computer or computing area.


Edited by jgweed, 29 August 2006 - 10:55 AM.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.

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