A reader wrote to tell us he loves Microsoft’s free anti-virus software, “Microsoft Security Essentials,” and has been using it for years. But it doesn’t come on his daughter-in-law’s Windows 8 machine; Windows 8 comes with “Microsoft Defender,” which is only part of Security Essentials. So we recommended switching to Avast, which is free from Avast.com.
A reader wanted to divide long audio tracks into segments for public talks. We suggested he try Audacity, a free program. It’s been downloaded over a million times. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
The reader got a virus, possibly from downloading it at a non-official site, but it’s hard to be sure. When he told us that, we tried downloading it ourselves, and, whaddaya know, our computer started acting up too. This was a new thing: we had downloaded Audacity twice before, both times on a computer using Windows 7, and never had any problems with it. This time we downloaded it to Windows 8, and had lots of problems. Things change.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
A sluggish computer is often sluggish because it doesn’t have enough RAM (random access memory). Go to your local computer repair shop and buy more, it’s cheap now. If you want to save the installation cost and add the RAM modules yourself, do a YouTube search on “RAM installation.” You’ll see do-it-yourself tutorial for desktops and laptops. Order the RAM modules themselves online and save even more. The free scanner at Crucial.com tells you what type of memory your computer uses. Second, be sure you’ve checked for viruses and spyware, which can really slow down a PC. For free software, we like MalwareBytes.org and Avast.com. Third, uninstall any programs you aren’t using and use the free CCleaner from Piriform.org to […]