Monday, September 27, 2010

Computer Maintenance: Part Two

Computer Maintenance Part One explained how to get the case of the computer cleaned and free of dust and debris. Now that the very essential of the project is complete, it is time to ensure that the system will be safe from the outside intruders. Part Two will focus on Anti-Virus programs and Firewalls.

Looking first at firewalls, what exactly is a firewall? A firewall is a software utility or hardware device that limits outside network access to a computer or network by blocking ports. Though firewalls are very simple to use and plug and play ready, they can also be customized and tuned to block additional port requests or control every port if the user wishes to do so. Windows comes with a built in firewall that for most users, will do the job necessary without issues. When a program that you install, an instant messenger program for example, requests outbound or inbound traffic the firewall will notify you and also allow you to determine if you want to be notified each time the instance occurs. The only time it may be necessary to install a more comprehensive firewall is if you have very serious attacks on your system frequently. In that case, good recommendations would be Comodo, Sygate or Zone Alarm. These are the top rated firewalls and are also the simplest to use and the least demanding of your computer’s resources.

The single most important piece of software that every user should have in the computer is anti-virus software. There is no excuse for not including this as a basic strategy to combating the horrors of the internet. When choosing a solution, be sure that the program has the most complete protection for your overall security but do not allow it to go overboard. Simply put, there are some products on the market that will run amok with the computer’s resources and that will slow the performance down. For the purpose of this article, look at AVG Anti-Virus Free available from Grisoft. AVG comes with a complete protection package including email scanning, link checking, real time scanning of downloads and basic spyware protection built in plus much more. The price of $0 makes it all the more attractive. AVG is extremely customizable and allows the user to select how often and when the computer is scanned. One very nice feature of the free version is that the program must update virus definitions everyday and cannot be customized; an easy feature to live with.

Firewalls and anti-virus; two critical items in the computer maintenance department and should not be overlooked. Look for Part Three of this series which will square up on the balancing factor of protecting the computer, spyware and malware protection.

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