So You Got A New PC …

Congratulations, you got a new PC for Christmas. Or maybe you bought a new one for your business before the end of the year tax season runs out.  Either way, do you know what the first thing you should do is? I mean after taking it out of the box, admiring its awesome shine and plugging it in.  That’s right, you should make sure the anti-virus software is in place and up-to-date.

If your machine didn’t come with any protective software, or if you don’t like what it came with, there are some great alternatives available for free download. Note that most of these have both free and paid versions. Even if you would like the extra features available from the paid version, I would recommend trying out the free editions first. You may find out that the software doesn’t suit your exact needs or that the free version would do everything you want.

AVG Antivirus – “No-frills protection to meet your basic security needs.” This is the AV software I recommend most often and the one I use on my own machines.

ClamWin – ClamWin is a Free Antivirus program for Microsoft Windows 7 / Vista / XP / Me / 2000 / 98 and Windows Server 2008 and 2003. ClamWin is open source, so you can even get the code behind the product. An excellent product that is constantly updated and monitored by the open source community. There is even a similar product available for the Mac.

Microsoft Security Essentials – “Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.” Microsoft finally started producing security software for Windows, and it is actually quite good. Also, of course, coming from Microsoft it integrates quite well into the Windows environment.
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Macs gain strength

I have been saying for a good while now that Macs are great in business. They offer ease of use, less maintenance, and are less prone to attack by viruses or spyware. (I almost said they are immune from attack, but I don’t want anyone to prove me wrong.) Now, more and more people in the industry are agreeing with me. Take for example this article in Computerworld. They are saying exactly the same thing.

One of the interesting points the article brings up, and something that has happened in my office, is that because the corporate powers are starting to get Apple products for their personal use they are starting to see those same products as alternatives for company use. In my place of work the Macs are spreading from the top down. Actually I had the first one, but after that came the VP of Marketing and our COO. Now that there are three of us with them in the top tier of the company decisions about hardware open up and requirements for software change. Granted we still invest in software that will only run on Windows, basically because there is no alternative, but that software must be able to run either on Citrix or virtualized through a product like Parallels. No longer will we just buy a Windows based program to just slap on any old desktop. Through one means or another the product has to be able to work on a Mac. And that is good for OS X, Linux and Windows. The ability to interoperate makes all the products stronger.

No Hotbar, Please!

I thought this had died down, but I have started seeing it more and more again. And yes, this is for my Windows using friends. Please, please, please do not install Hotbar. If you have it now, please uninstall it and run something like Spybot Search & Destroy or go to http://housecall.antivirus.com and run their free scan.

SpywareHotbar is a known carrier of spyware. Yes, it will help you put cute little smiley faces in your email. Yes, it adds a neat little toolbar to your browser. But it has been proven to slow down machines, cause pop-up windows, and allow in all kinds of other unfriendly beasties. Baseline is that you do not want it on your machine.

You also really do need a full suite of protection protects on your Windows machine. For the home user I recommend AVG’s free anti-virus for Grisoft. You can also either use their spyware tool or the one I mentioned above. Or, if using Vista, just use Microsoft Defender which came with Windows to protect your machine from spyware. But please, use something.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback please let me know!