PLAY DEFENSE

Recently, a reader asked about the program “Driver Restore.” Absolutely do not download this one. Though keeping drivers up to date is important, this program and many like it will infect your computer.

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DANGEROUS DOWNLOADS

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.

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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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AVOIDING HACKERS

Next time we travel or use our computers outside the home, we’re going to use Avast’s “SecureLine” to connect to the Internet. That way, even if we’re using the notoriously dangerous public Wi-Fi in an airport, no hacker can see us.

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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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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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THE SLUGGISH COMPUTER

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 […]

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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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THE END OF WINDOWS XP

In a little less than a year, there will be no more updates for Windows XP users. Microsoft is ending all support around this time next year, despite nearly half of all users still using XP.

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