SECOND-HAND PHONES STILL HAVE STUFF

More than 80,000 used phones are for sale on eBay on any given day. The owners think they’ve wiped their personal data first. It turns out, they haven’t.

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KNOW YOUR COMPUTER AND KEEP IT CLEAN

“Belarc Advisor” is a free program that will analyze your computer and let you see all the information about hardware, software and security. Its detailed report lists everything: model numbers, serial numbers and software license keys for many installed programs. If your computer needs a security update, it will tell you that too.

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GOING AFTER PUP DOGS

Running a malware (bad stuff) program on our test computer picked up over 950 “PUP” files. “PUP,” is short for “Potentially Unwanted Programs.” This triggered the computer to go wild, filling out web addresses with bizarre characters and slowing everything to a crawl.

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ANTI-VIRUS UPDATE

We recently wrote about the free programs, Avast and Bitdefender, just days before the new Avast 2014 came out. The new version is free and instructs you to burn a boot-disk on a CD or DVD. After all, it’s all well and good to have anti-virus protection, but what if your computer won’t start at all? Then you better have a boot disk ready. If you Google “create boot disk,” you can get instructions to burn one to CD or flash drive, but it’s nice that Avast prompts you to do it.

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DEFENSIVE BATTLES

For a good free anti-virus, we’ve long recommended Avast. But PC Magazine recently gave their highest marks to another free program: BitDefender. Now along comes Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014, which bundles BitDefender with a lot of other useful programs. It’s $40, and there’s a free trial download from the web site: Ashampoo.com.

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SHARING WI-FI SIGNALS

A pretty girl, very sweet looking, knocked on our door and said to Joy:”I have to get on the Internet. Can I use your password?” We didn’t know her and she wasn’t a neighbor, but she stood poised and ready with notebook and pen to take down our password.

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COMING CLEAN

We heard from a reader who said his PC is “as slow as a stalled car in a parking lot.” (There’s an image for you.) He said his anti-virus program is running well and it’s a relatively new computer. So what gives? Well, he could call AAA to get his car started but he probably wants to deal with his computer first. And his first problem there is he gets a lot of intrusive ads when browsing the web. That’ll slow you down.  Adblock Plus is a free program from AdblockPlus.org and it will take out almost all of those. His second problem is he never clears out his Internet history and other junk files. CCleaner, from We heard from […]

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IDENTITY THEFT AND ALL THAT

Every day for two weeks we’ve gotten at least one call purporting to be from Citibank regarding our credit card. It’s one of those robot calls, with no one on the other end of the line, but providing a toll-free number to call about our account. Immediately, if not sooner…

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ROOTING OUT A ROOTKIT

Just when you think you’ll never have another virus problem, along comes the dreaded “rootkit.” This one is so powerful it may escape detection by anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. It happened to us.

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A MORE SECURE FACEBOOK

Avast makes a nice anti-virus program, and it’s free. Now they’ve added Secure.Me, an app for keeping nosy Parkers (and hackers) out of your Facebook account.

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