A Reader Wants To Know….

imageWe receive a wide variety of questions here, from the very simple, to the complex – all of which are equally as interesting. The following thought-provoking questions were all recently posed by a reader.

Which Antivirus application(s) would you recommend?

Let me answer this by telling you what I run on my principal home machine. Despite the fact that I’m provided with a free license for all the security applications I test, I have chosen the following applications.

Microsoft Security Essentials (free)

Immunet Protect – a free Cloud based companion antimalware application.

ThreatFire (free)

WinPatrol (free)

Pc Tools Firewall Plus (free) – I recently changed from ZoneAlarm (free), since I finally tired of their incessant ads.

Zemana AntiLogger (paid) – I’ve managed to pick up a free license each of the last 2 years, however.

Each of these applications has been reviewed (some several times), on my site. A site search using the search box will lead you to the relevant article/s.

How many Antivirus application(s) should I have installed on my laptop.

Typically the answer is straightforward – one (in order to avoid potential conflicts). However, nothing is really straightforward with a computer. For an in-depth answer, please read Can I Install And Use More Than One Antimalware Application? on my site.

Which Firewall would you recommend?

Over time, I have installed virtually every available Firewall, and I must admit, my favorite has always been ZoneAlarm – not only for its effectiveness, but also for its ease of use. As I said earlier though, I recently made the change back to PC Tools Firewall Plus – a Firewall I’ve used in the past that is as effective and as easy to use as ZoneAlarm (without the annoying ads).

Comodo Firewall, which you’re presently using, is an excellent application. I’ve used and reviewed this application in the past, and I have no difficulty in recommending it.

Which Malware/Spyware application(s) would you recommend?

Since Microsoft Security Essentials combines both antivirus, and antispyware in the same application, this is a very workable solution. Additionally, the issue of maintaining good control over system resource usage is addressed by employing this combination.

How many Malware/Spyware applications should I have installed on my laptop?

The same answer applies here as in the Antivirus question.

Which Backup and Recovery program(s) would you suggest?

The principal issues affecting backups are determined by how (the skill level of the user), and for what purpose, a computer is used. Typically, average users are convinced that backing up is beyond their knowledge level, and so avoid this necessary chore.

The reality is, major advances have been made in the development of simple, “push button” easy, backup applications. There are a many applications to choose from, both paid and free, and the one I’m very enthusiastic about at the moment is Free EASEUS Todo Backup. You can reread my recent review of this application here.

Which registry cleaner would you recommend?

Registry Cleaners are often referred to as the “snake oil” of the computer industry. There is a major difference of opinion concerning the value of these applications.

Generally speaking, it’s my view that this type of application should not be used by an average user – except for a very mild cleaner, such as Ccleaner, which I do, in fact, highly recommend.

There are times when a powerful cleaner, (such as RegSeeker), in skilled hands, can be beneficial.

Which Anonymous Surfing application would you recommend? (My privacy is mine and important to me).

I’ve reviewed and recommended quite a number of such applications here, but the application I’m most partial to (at the moment), is Free Hotspot Shield. You can read the latest review of this application here.

Finally – while you mentioned WOT and SnoopFree Privacy Shield, additional Browser protection is a critical ingredient in overall system protection. I recommend that you read the following article here – An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Backup Applications, Browser add-ons, Computer Tools, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Security Programs, Interconnectivity, PC Tools, Point of View, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

23 responses to “A Reader Wants To Know….

  1. Rika

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks again. I learn something new everyday. Now the process begins of me nursing my laptop, speeding it up and strengthening it. Oh joy! Hey, at least it still works.

  2. Pingback: Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#95) « What's On My PC

  3. Bill,
    Another very cool article that will help lots of people.

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for that.

      This one was really a no brainer. I had to answer the questions anyway, so it was easy to put my answers up as an article.

      Given the type of interesting questions I answer regularly, I’ll do this sort of thing more often.

      Good to hear from you.



  4. John


    Great article, and it goes a long way in helping those that can’t make up their minds like me.

    You and I were discussing firewalls the other day and I’m currently running Privatefirewall 7 which seems to be very good.


  5. Dave Curtis

    Hey Bill. Very good descriptive article. As always, I think your site rocks. Best wishes, Dave.

  6. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    All the programs you mention are top notch. My personal system setup is similar to yours, except I don’t use Immunet (incompatible with Zone Alarm), and I still use Zone Alarm. Really, these days, nobody has to be unprotected, there are some excellent, easy to use programs out there ready to be downloaded.

  7. Jose

    Hi Bill, thanks for the article.

    Since we’re talking about combos here are my two cents:

    Online Armor (free) It combines a two way FW with a HIPS (google around for HIPS or go to OA’s or Comodo’s forums).
    WOT (free) a must have add-on for browsers.
    MSE (free) the most simple to use AV.
    Sandboxie (free) (google around for what a Sandbox is).

    To finish a short post (on a big issue): the user behind the keyboard is the one who infects the machine; things don’t come to you, you go to them.


    • Hi Jose,

      Let me start by saying, I’m going to steal another one of your quotes “things don’t come to you, you go to them”. Terrific – I couldn’t agree more. Users would do well to listen to your advice.

      The remainder of your comment is, as always, very pertinent – thank you for contributing.



  8. Layton

    Hi Bill,

    Nice article as alway’s

    Could you explain why you use ThreatFire, i use Avast 5 and had no problem’s with it but on ThreatFire homepage they say it give’s 90% more protection than Avast. Just wondering as that seem’s a lot or is it just a personal preference ?


    • Hi Layton,

      Since ThreatFire is designed as a heuristic line of defense against zero day threats (along with a limited HIPS component), it adds an extra layer of protection with limited impact on system resources. Since I use individual free components, rather than relying on a suite, ThreatFire suits my needs well.

      Avast 5 is an exceptionally good AV, and I wouldn’t rely on a claim that ThreatFire gives 90% more protection than Avast. Frankly, I’d place that claim in the “hype” category.



  9. jSwann0

    Hi Mr Bill,
    Why don’t you recommend Sandboxie ?

    • Hey jSwann0,

      Actually, I do recommend Sandboxie. In fact, in the last 12 months I have written on 20+ virtualization applications, including Sandboxie.

      This particular article is specific to the questions asked by the reader – it’s not a primer on overall security. I have however, posted a number of articles on overall security in the past 3 years.


  10. Ranjan

    Hey Bill,

    Umm… What do you think of SpuShelter as an antilogger for x64 OSes? I’m really in a dialemma whether to use it or not. Though it performs well on the tests but there is no background about it and neither is their site’s ‘About Us’ clear. And how it goes around with KPP?

    Btw, though currently I’m on windows, but I must say, Im loving Ubuntu. 😀

    • Hey Ranjan,

      Really glad to hear that you’re enjoying Ubuntu. It’s a very cool OS!

      I think you’re referring to SpyShelter (not SpuShelter). I took a quick look at this back in July 2010, and it seemed to be up to the task of catching the keylogger malware I threw at it. I think it’s worth your serious consideration.


  11. Ranjan

    Yep, ubuntu is damn cool. And in some aspects, its cooler than Windows.
    And yeah I was, indeed, referring to SpyShelter.
    “worth the serious consideration”, serious consideration of what, Bill? Using it or to wait for its mysterious background to get clear?

  12. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Love the idea of SpuShelter. Useful in case of what the Aussies call “chunder”?

    Interested to note Mal’s comment on Immunet not being compatible with ZoneAlarm as I’ve been using them together for some time. Mind you I use ZoneAlarm Pro as I love it so much it was worth it to me and….no more adverts (yay!).

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      It seems to me that the ZoneAlarm issue that Mal is experiencing, is XP specific. I haven’t been by the Immunet site for a while, but at one time, the ZoneAlarm incompatibility was an admitted issue. It may well be that this has been addressed.