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Quick Links

Malware

Spyware and Adware

Updates to Operating System

Drivers

Free Software


Useful Download Links

Filehippo - great for useful, free software.

Softpedia - many useful downloads

Grisoft AVG Free, excellent antivirus

Avira AntiVir - another good free antivirus

Zone Labs ZoneAlarm - good, free firewall

Comodo Firewall Pro - excellent free firewall

Online Armour - another good, free firewall

Ad-Aware 2007 Free - good for removing malware

Spybot Search and Destroy - removes malware, and immunises against it too

Microsoft Windows Defender - MS's own malware defense system

Microsoft Update - keep Windows and Office up to date

nVidia - latest drivers for graphics cards

ATI - latest drivers for graphics cards

DriverGuide.com - search for hard-to-find drivers

Download.com - free software

Tucows.com - free software

Useful Information

Malware

Malware is a general title for all the different types of malicious programs that can inveigle their way into your computer. They are usually installed on your computer without your knowledge, and can cause a wide range of problems for you and your computer. The symptoms that you observe may range from slow performance to computer malfunction, (crashes, loss of data) to compromising of security, and even to complete loss of all data on your computer. The names for the main different types of malware are as follows:

Viruses, Worms, Wabbits, Trojans, Spyware, Backdoors, Exploits, Rootkits, Keyloggers, Diallers, URL injectors, Adware.

Here is a link to a summary of each of these types of malware.

There is plenty of information about computer malware available on the internet, as a quick search with a search engine such as Google will reveal.

Information about how viruses work can be found at Howstuffworks

For a more in depth evaluation of some types of malware, here is an excellent article from Ars Technica

Two useful websites for comparison of security software are AV-comparatives.org to see how the best antivirus programs compare with each other, and Matousec.com for a similar comparison of firewalls.

General advice:

We would strongly recommend that you install anti-malware software on your PC to protect you from these types of malicious programs, and make sure the Windows Firewall in Windows XP is enabled, or install another one.

Free antivirus:

Free antispyware:

Free Firewall:


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Spyware and Adware

What are spyware & adware?

Spyware is similar to a computer virus, but it remains concealed on your PC and tracks your mouse clicks, text entries, website visits and so on. It can slow down your broadband connection, and, more importantly, can redirect anything you type (for example your credit card number) to somebody else who could use these details fraudulently.

Adware can also reside on your PC without your knowledge, causing unwanted advertising pop-ups, changing your default homepage, inserting strange icons onto your desktop or into your favourites, or resetting your chosen search engine.

How to get rid of spyware?

Prevention is better than a cure, especially as some of the worst types of spy- and ad-ware are very difficult, time consuming, and potentially costly to remove. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, a firewall, and keep your computer up to date with Microsoft Update.

If you think your PC is affected by this type of software, some anti-virus scanners can identify and delete some instances of this type of annoyance. There are also several free programs available which can scan your PC for spyware and remove it, for example at

www.webroot.com

www.spywareinfo.com

www.download.com

www.tucows.com

We recommend the following free programs for spyware and adware detection, removal and protection:

Ad-Aware 2007 Free

Spybot Search and Destroy

Microsoft Windows Defender

Spyware Blaster

Spyware Guard

Other well-reviewed anti-spyware programs (but not free) include:

Spyware Doctor

Pest Patrol

Webroot Spy Sweeper

Be aware that there are also many websites out there promoting anti-spyware software which claim to clean spyware off your PC, but they can actually install their own spyware and disable any anti-spyware software they find. This website, Spyware Warrior has in depth information, and lists of trustworthy and also rogue/suspect anti-spyware products & web sites.


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Operating System Updates

It is advisable to install the latest updates to your Windows operating system available for free from:
Microsoft Update

Updates are designed to fix bugs and vulnerabilities in Windows products like Windows XP, 2000 & 98, and Microsoft Office products. These updates give your PC enhanced reliability, functionality, and better protection from viruses, spyware and hackers.


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Drivers

Installing the latest drivers for the hardware in your computer can solve problems with programs not running properly, especially games. Problems such as unexpected display appearance, slow running, or program crashes are typical of out-dated drivers.

The most popular graphics cards for gamers have chipsets made by nVidia and ATI. The latest drivers can be downloaded from their websites:
nVidia
ATI

There are many other manufacturers, and they almost all provide support pages with links to drivers for download. Some hard-to-find drivers can be found on sites such as:
DriverGuide.com
WinDrivers.com
Drivers Headquarters


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Free Software

There is a lot of free software available for download off the internet. There are programs for every imaginable purpose available. Some of it is in the form of time-limited demonstration versions - after the expiry of the free period, the software stops working. Some of it is Shareware, for which you are expected pay a small fee after an initial trial period. Some is free for a functional but limited version, and you have to pay for a full version. Some is completely free, with no limitations.

The following sites have huge libraries of such software:
Filehippo.com
Softpedia.com
Download.com
Tucows.com


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