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
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
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.
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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
We recommend the following free programs for spyware and adware detection, removal and protection:
Other well-reviewed anti-spyware programs (but not free) include:
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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It is advisable to install the latest updates to your Windows operating system available for free from:
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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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.
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:
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