Back in 2002, my computer was drowning. Drowning in countless start-up programs, temp files, cookies, caches, out-of-date Windows Registry entries, viruses, spyware….you name it, I had it. The Windows trash bin was full to bursting and the Clipboard was jam-packed. After only really embracing the internet in a big way the year before, I was having the time of my life, downloading and installing everything I could get my hands on. An executable email attachment called “Naked Britney Spears”? I’ll take that! A complete stranger telling me to download his “special new program”? Sure thing! Yes I was naive and very stupid back then.
But then a serious virus infection almost destroyed the hard drive and I realised I was being stupid and things had to be tightened up. Ever since then, I have been paranoid about keeping the computer clean from viruses and making sure everything is tidy, organised and fast. Now today I make sure the following programs are updated daily and are used at least every second day. Knocking on wood, I haven’t had a computer virus in four years or a spyware infection in two years. I am also a speed-freak, tweaking everything to make things go faster.
* AVG Anti-Virus – A lot of people, when looking for a virus checker, instantly gravitate to the paid Norton Anti-Virus and I don’t understand why they do that when there is a free virus checker called AVG which is, in my opinion, the best virus checker available today. Grisoft, the company that makes AVG, offers a free version and a paid version but I think the free version does a good enough job on its own.
During the four years that I have been using AVG, I have never contracted a single virus as AVG stops them and quarantines them instantly the moment they try to enter the system. The program updates itself daily and you can schedule regular system checks as well. Or if you prefer, you can right-click on a file and scan it with AVG before opening the file (AVG integrates itself into the Windows Explorer menu).
In the days when I used to use Microsoft Outlook for my emails, I also liked that AVG integrates itself with Outlook and immediately scans each email coming in. Suddenly I was getting no more “exe” files of Heidi Klum on the beach!
If you’re looking for a virus checker that will protect you 24/7 then I can’t recommend AVG enough. This program has saved my life many times.
* Ad-Aware 2007 – I have been a huge fan of Ad-Aware for years but I am not so impressed with the new 2007 version which recently came out. Whereas the older version was very stable and very fast, the 2007 version is rather slow and the connection to the Lavasoft servers seems to disconnect rather easily. I am hoping though that these are minor teething problems that will soon be resolved because I am still in shock by the Spybot Search & Destroy program which really did search and destroy my system. In fact, Spybot nuked the Windows OS by removing the wrong registry files!
Ad-Aware is updated daily by Lavasoft and you can run it to check your system for spyware.
* CCleaner : In case you’re wondering, the extra “c” stands for “crap” and it is a very apt name as this program really does clean out the crap that accumulates in your hard-drive. Whether it is temp files, internet browser history, cookies, caches or needless registry entries, CCleaner finds them and deletes them. Just tick in the boxes what you want nuked and what you want left, and CCleaner does the rest – fast.
Before deleting anything from the registry, CCleaner gives you the option of making a back-up file in case anything of importance suddenly fails to start working.
I only started using this program 6 weeks ago. Before that I was a big devotee of EasyCleaner but after only using CCleaner once, I was instantly converted.
In fact I was reading today that a new beta version has just been released which can be put on a USB stick as a portable program so you can clean out other computers!
Tomorrow I will be looking at two other programs which I use on a frequent basis to keep the computer zipping. Check back then for more.