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Keep your PC clean and tidy-for Free!

  • May 7, 2010
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Over the past few months I've noticed quite a few ads on TV for companies promoting their products that promise to speed up your Internet connection and/or rid you of, as well as protect you from viruses, spyware, etc, etc.  I decided to take a look at one such product, did a little research, and came to the conclusion that these products are potentially dangerous to your OS.  And even if they do live up to their promises, the fact remains they still want your money.  Well, you don't have to pay to keep your computer safe and clean.  This is a list of my favorite and most trusted programs that will take care of pretty much any problem.   You'll notice that there's more than one antispyware program here, and that is because no one program is perfect.  I hope this list will help should you ever need to know where to get the best for free.  :)

Avira Antivir Personal Edition
Avira Antivir is really fantastic protection. It has all the features and resoruces of Norton or McAfee, but there's no subscription fee. Scans run fairly quickly, and don't use an unholy amount of system resources. Avira also has an advanced user feature that allow you to exclude items which is a plus for gamers as some game components can result in false positives. Updates are daily, and there is a scheduled system scan option as well. The free version comes with a nag screen with each update, but updates are typically only once a day, so it's not overly annoying.
Advanced System Care
ASC is almost an all in one solution. It cleans your registry, defrags, cleans cookies and temp files, AND has a lot of other features included all in one program. Notable extras include Game Booster (shuts down all non essential processes to make games faster and diminish lag), a Start Up manager, a Shortcut Fixer, and Smart RAM, which monitors usage and frees up memory when needed. Some of the utilities in ASC require you to buy the full program, but you really don't need them all. The best part is that cleaning is quick and easy, and doesn't use a ton of resources. Auto updates and scheduler are disabled in the free version.
CCleaner is a nice little easy to use, quick to scan antispyware utility. It cleans up all junk files that can accumulate on any browser(s) you may be using. The UI is self explanatory, so there's little need for me to elaborate  here. :)
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
I'll be honest, whenever I've used this program I've never come up with anything more serious than a few tracking cookies, so I have no idea how well Malwarebytes' works. It has a very good reputation though, and I trust the opinions and observations of people who have used it to remove unwanted maliciousness from their computers. It's easy to use, however, a complete scan takes a LONG time, so I suggest using the quick scan, unless of course you think you may be infected.
Spybot Search and Destroy
I've had Spybot S&D on hand for many years. It was created back in 2000 by Patrick Kolla. Apparently, he had gotten some kind of nasty adware on his PC and needed to get rid of it, Being a student of applied computer science he decided to create his own program. Now Safer Networking Ltd (the company behind S&D) offers a decent variety of other programs in addition to this one, and they are all completely FREE. That means no locked features, and no nag screens. Spybot isn't notorious for being quick or resource friendly, but it is a necessity if you do a lot of downloading or "surfing the net." S&D also has quite a few nice tweaks which help with things like locking your HOST file, among other things. After installing it, the program will ask you to make a registry backup. I suggest you do so just in case. It also has a feature called Tea Timer which alerts you of various changes you may otherwise be unaware of, such as registry changes or if something tries to change your homepage address. I personally don't use Tea Timer as it can be very picky and has a habit of nagging at inopportune times.
Zone Alarm Personal Firewall
It's all well and good to have antivirus and antispyware programs, but neither type of program will keep hackers from hijacking your machine.Zone Alarm is a royal pain when you first install it. That's because you have to verify every program that accesses the Internet, whether it be IE or something that just accesses the net to update. After you've secured all your programs though, and turned off non essential notifications, then you're only bothered with the occasional notification. In that case, all you need do is check the 'remember this' box and then click allow or deny, depending on the program.

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May 07, 2010
Thanks so much for sharing this, Stephanie!  After what I recently went through and had to shell out $100 to fix, these will come in handy!
May 08, 2010
Ouch. If you have any more problems I'll be glad to help if I can. These programs can usually take care of any problems you might run into...unless you're unfortunate enough to get one of thoes viruses that just destroys everything right away. In that case, a simple reinstall of the operating system usually does the trick, and doesn't cost a limb of any sort. If that ever happens, and you have access to another computer I can guide you through it. Just let me know! :)
About the list creator
Stephanie ()
Ranked #133
I'm one of those people that prefers status quo to randomness and chaos. I have two dogs, a Chihuahua and a German Short-haired Pointer, named Chiqua and Pepper. Chiqua is my constant companion.   … more
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