Category Archives: 64 Bit Software

Tomorrow Is World Backup Day – So, Are You Going To? Backup, That Is.

imageI have some bad news – sad news – for you this morning. Those graduation pictures you treasured, the pictures of your toddler’s first steps, this year’s income tax return which was just about ready to be filed, that resume you just finished updating – GONE – ALL GONE.

Your Hard Drive just quit overnight – never to be booted again. I know I should feel some measure of sympathy for you – but, I don’t.

I’m not trying to be a big meanie* here but, it seems to me, that you are the architect of your own misfortune. A little pre-planning to safeguard your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data – could have saved you considerable distress.

If only you had a backup – but, you don’t – do you? I suspect that it’s little consolation but, you’re not alone. Despite the importance of Hard Drive and individual file backups, most computer technicians will tell you that typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

It’s a little late to tell you this but, if you had been one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users, who regularly and faithfully backup, you would have had some work ahead of you – but, you would have recovered your data.

All of the above of course, is an imaginary scenario – in fact, your system did boot up his morning. But, that’s hardly cause for complacency.

Redundant information: Just like death and taxes are a certainty, the fact that your computer’s Hard Drive will crash one day and refuse to respond, is every bit as certain.

If you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program – one that I have no difficulty recommending is – EASEUS Todo Backup.

This is a brilliant application which will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface.

If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

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The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

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In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and …..

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Done!

Bonus: You can copy backup images to your personal cloud for data double protection. More info here.

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A ton of options so that you can set the parameters of the task to suit your particular needs.

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Recovery, is point and click simple.

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Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

In the following example I’ve run a check on the test backup to verify readability.

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Finding that an image file is unreadable when called upon, ranks with one of life’s low points – well, sort of.    Smile

A quick initial check is a prudent move.

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You’ll have the option of creating a system boot disk. You should do so.

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The “emergency disk” will allow you to boot into EASEUS Todo Backup and then choose from a number of options.

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  Fast facts:

System Backup and Recovery – One-click system backup. Backs up entire system state including the operating system and installed applications on-the-fly without interrupting your work to get the system up in time after crash.

File and Folder Backup – Backs up specified files, network shared files, files in use, folders or file types in case of virus attack, hard disk failure, or deletion by accident, etc.

Disk & partition Backup – Full backup disk(s)/partition(s), dynamic volume(s), or GPT disk(s)/volume(s) to image. It ensures PC security and instant data recovery in case of any data loss.

Incremental Backup – Provide alternatives to perform full backups each time by offering incremental backup. To capture changes saving time & disk space.

Backup Schedule – To run backup automatically at a predefined time. By scheduling a backup task, your system and important data can be backed up now, daily, weekly, monthly.

Disk Clone Tool – Clone or transfer all the data on a hard disk to another. Clone disk is especially useful to upgrade your hard drive to a new one without reinstalling operating systems and applications.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8. (32 bit, 64 bit).

Download at: EASEUS

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

* In recent years, I’ve written 20+ articles on the importance of backing up critical data and, it distresses me somewhat that they have been amongst the least read articles I’ve written.

Good buddy TeX, summed up the backup issue neatly in a comment to a previous backup article sometime back, when he wrote – There are so many good programs out there for backing up, the problem is getting people to take that whole step seriously. It’s like dying,  “That always happens to someone else” theory.

It’s a point worth considering.

For additional reading on this important task, you might consider dropping by the World Backup Day site – DON’T BE AN APRIL FOOL. Backup your files. Check your restores.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Backup Applications, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging

Free Security Software Downloader – Download Multiple Security Apps And Tools In One Go

imageIf you’re into helping your less experienced friends/relatives deal with computer issues, then I think you’ll find that Security Software Downloader (SSDownloader) is a terrific way to help those less experienced users install the freeware security applications that you know, through experience, are a “must have”.

Talk about small!

Security Software Downloader is a tiny open source executable (669KB) – designed specifically as a bulk download manager which focuses on security applications and, security related specialty tools.

A quick walkthrough –

The tab based user interface – Free Antivirus, Security Suites (Trial Versions), Malware Removal, Firewalls, and Other Tools, is uncomplicated and checkbox simple.

In the first screen grab, referencing “Free Antivirus”, I’ve selected three popular applications for download. Notice the languages which are available, as well as the OS “auto detect” feature. According to the developer – changing the language will automatically download your selection/s in the chosen language.

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Total download time – 2:37.

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The default download location is the Desktop. You will however, have a chance to select an alternative location.

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For this test, I’ve bypassed the Trial Versions opportunity. Still, there’s a good selection of well know applications to choose from.

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In this screen capture, you’ll note that I’ve focused on two tools which, I know from experience, can get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

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From the “Other tools” menu, I’ve selected three more applications which have served me well in the past.

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As each download is completed, a system notification area popup, tells the tale – as illustrated below.

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Fast facts:

  • Download the most popular free and paid security software with only one click.
  • Don’t worry about OS or 32bit/64bit, the right version will be automatically downloaded.
  • Stay up to date, the newest versions of the selected software will be downloaded.
  • Choose what you want to download and you will see a notification as soon as your download/s finish.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 bit and 64 bit). Tested on Win 8.

Download at: Sourceforge

For those of us who are geek inclined, SSDownloader (especially given its small footprint), would make a nice addition to a Flash drive toolbox.

Download times will be system specific. In this case, I ran on a 1.7 MB/sec  connection.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source

Microsoft Security Essentials – Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – But, It’s Over; You’re Gone

imageSadly, Microsoft Security Essentials and I have had a falling out. We’re through – it’s over – that’s it. It’s broken the cardinal rule I’ve long established for all my applications – trust that it will perform as advertised.

It’s been replaced in my affection by another – one that lives up to its billing –  AVG AntiVirus Free 2013. Microsoft Security Essentials no longer does.

Frankly, I’ve avoided AVG’s products for years – with good cause I think. Applications that are slow, cumbersome, updates that crash systems ….. have a way of ending up in file 13 (the garbage), around here. In the past, AVG’s products were known for all of that, and more. It had its defenders of course, but I was not one of them.

As MSE has slowly lost its touch, AVG has bounded ahead. It’s sleek; it’s fast; it’s free – and, in the latest AV-Test.org’s (see AV-Test.org’s full results here), it pummels MSE – again.

In fact, for the second testing cycle in a row – Microsoft Security Essentials has failed certification as an effective security application.

Quick overview of AVG AntiVirus Free’s salient score points. Click graphic to expand.

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Courtesy – AV-Test.org.

I’ve been running with AVG AntiVirus Free 2013 on a primary home system (a Windows 8 machine), since September 5, of last year. The verdict? I’m impressed – very impressed.

As you can see from the following screen shot, AVG AntiVirus Free offers substantial protection – not quite up to the standard of the company’s paid applications – but, more than enough (in my view), that an aware user should feel comfortable.

Keep in mind, that an educated user understands the limitations of relying on a single security application and, is conversant with the principal of layered security.

Windows 8 users will notice that the GUI (as shown below) owes a little something to Windows 8’s Metro (or whatever MS is calling it these days) GUI.

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Multiple choices are available in the settings menu so that users can tweak and massage the application to meet their specific needs. I must admit – that was a major positive for me.

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Running a scan: As is my practice – I run a complete scan on my machine’s boot drive every day. And a full scan on all attached drives, weekly.

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Running a scan: 60 GB SSD – particulars as shown below.

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Scanning time – just under 5 minutes with “High Priority” set.

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Slip in a USB device – and….

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System requirements: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP.

Download at: AVG

A Major Bonus – From the site:

It’s not just the software that’s free. So too is phone access to our team of support experts 24/7, 365 days a year (USA, UK, Canada). Kudos to AVG!!

You’ll notice a basket-full of additional free AVG products on the download page – you just might find something that fills a gap in your overall security plan.

Whether you’re an experienced user, or you consider yourself “average”, I recommend that you spend some time scouting around the application’s GUI – there’s lots to be discovered here. All of it good.  Smile

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Security Programs, Freeware

Sandboxie! – Think INSIDE The Box!

imageWouldn’t it be terrific if, following a mistake which led to malware making its way on to your computer, you could wave a magic wand, utter the words – “get thee gone” – and, quick as you like – no more malware infection?

Luckily, you can do just that. You don’t have to be a mage or a magician – you don’t have to deliver a magic enchantment – but, you do need to be running a sandbox based isolation application.

And that, brings me to Sandboxie (last updated December 16, 2012) – the King of isolation applications in Geek territory. Rather than geek you into the land of nod – today’s review is what I like to refer to as a “soft review”.

Simply put, Sandboxie, when active, creates a virtual environment (of a sort), on a computer by redirecting all system and application changes, to an unused location on a Hard Drive. These changes can be permanently saved to disk or, completely discarded.

A case in point for isolating web surfing:

While surfing the Net, an inexperienced user mistakenly accepts an invitation to install a scareware application but realizes, after the fact, that this is a scam. Operating in a “real” environment, the damage, unfortunately, would already have been done.

Operating in an isolated environment with Sandboxie active; the system changes made by this parasite could be completely discarded – since the attack occurred in a – “I’m not really here” environment .

An obvious part of reviewing an application is, providing a technical breakdown of just how an application gets the job done – or, in some cases how/why an application doesn’t quite get it done.

It’s not often that I get caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” in terms of illustrating an application’s aptitude in getting the task accomplished. In this case however, Ronen Tzur, Sandboxie’s developer, has taken the expression – a picture is worth a thousand words – and definitely run with it.

From the site: Introducing Sandboxie

Sandboxie runs your programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.

The red arrows indicate changes flowing from a running program into your computer. The box labeled Hard disk (no sandbox) shows changes by a program running normally.

The box labeled Hard disk (with sandbox) shows changes by a program running under Sandboxie. The animation illustrates that Sandboxie is able to intercept the changes and isolate them within a sandbox, depicted as a yellow rectangle. It also illustrates that grouping the changes together makes it easy to delete all of them at once.

Fast facts:

Secure Web Browsing: Running your Web browser under the protection of Sandboxie means that all malicious software downloaded by the browser is trapped in the sandbox and can be discarded trivially.

Enhanced Privacy: Browsing history, cookies, and cached temporary files collected while Web browsing stay in the sandbox and don’t leak into Windows.

Secure E-mail: Viruses and other malicious software that might be hiding in your email can’t break out of the sandbox and can’t infect your real system.

Windows Stays Lean: Prevent wear-and-tear in Windows by installing software into an isolated sandbox.

The developer has provided a clear and concise Getting Started tutorial – which includes:

How to to use Sandboxie to run your applications.

How the changes are trapped in the sandbox.

How to recover important files and documents out of the sandbox.

How to delete the sandbox.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 and 64 bit), Win 8 (32 and 64 bit).

Available languages: English, Albanian, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

Download at: Sandboxie

A Caveat: You may run with Sandboxie free of charge – but, once past the initial 30 days, you will be reminded that a lifetime licensed version is available for € 29 (approximately $38 USD at today’s conversion rate).

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Malware Protection, Virtualization

Glary Utilities 2.52 – A Free Collection of System Tools and Utilities – In 2 Flavors

imageGlary Utilities Free (last updated Jan. 9, 2013), is a reasonably complete set of system tools with which even a relative newcomer to the computing game can tweak, repair, optimize and improve system performance. Since discovering Glary Utilities years ago, it has remained my go-to application for system maintenance and cleanup.

With a graphical user interface arranged in a clean straightforward manner, you can quickly find the tool you’re looking for: disk cleaner, uninstall manager, secure file deletion, memory optimizer, registry cleaner, duplicate file finder, tracks eraser, empty folder finder; a very convenient feature for those of us who like to test drive new software.

Installation: YIKES!!!!

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You can avoid all of the above (strongly recommended), by selecting the Slim Version – no toolbar. Alternatively, choose either of the two Portable Versions as per the following screen shot – no toolbar.

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I suspect that there may be users who see the advantages of installing a Toolbar such as the one offered as part of this installation package. Quite frankly though, I’ve yet to meet one. For a taste of my views on Toolbars please see – We Don’t Want No Stinkin’ Toolbar!

For users who are comfortable with a “one click” solution – Glary Utilities covers the basics nicely.

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Results: running the Standard Version installed on an SSD HD. Scan time – 2 minutes and 8 seconds.

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Results: running the Portable Version from a Flash drive. Scan time – 2 minutes and 8 seconds.

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Dig a little deeper: The hands-on crowd can dig into the individual Modules and clean and massage their machine to their heart’s content.

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Users can even avoid the frustration of having to hunt down a number of standard Windows tools by selecting the appropriate tool from the System Tools menu.

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You can comfortably fine tune the application using the clear and precise Settings Menu. While the “Settings” menu is often the last item to be looked at following an application installation, it should be at the top of the “to do list” prior to running any new application. Unpleasant surprises can be avoided with a little prep work – first.

Of particular interest, to those of us who work with files using a “context menu”, Glary Utilities has a nice selection of new items which will be added to Windows Explorer.

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There are those who will take comfort in an included “Restore Center” but, a more prudent course to follow is – prior to completing any significant system changes – take the time to generate a manual Restore Point.

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Fast facts:

Disk Cleaner – Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner – Scans and cleans up your registry to improve your system’s performance.

Shortcuts Fixer – Corrects the errors in your start menu & desktop shortcuts

Uninstall Manager – Uninstalls programs completely that you don’t need any more

Startup Manager – Manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer – Monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Context Menu Manager – Manages the context-menu entries for files, folders…

Tracks Eraser – Erases all the traces,evidences,cookies,internet history and more

File Shredder – Erases files permanently so that no one can recover them

Internet Explorer Assistant – Manages Internet Explorer Add-ons and restores hijacked settings

File Encrypter and Decrypter – Protects your files from unauthorized access and use.

Disk Analysis – Shows you the disk space usage of your files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder – Searches for space-wasting and error producing duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder – Finds and removes empty folders in your windows

File Splitter and Joiner – Splits large files into smaller manageable files, and then rejoin them.

Process Manager – Monitors programs that run on your PC and stop spyware and Trojans.

Windows Standard Tools – Provides direct access to the useful windows default functions.

Current Version: 2.52.0.1698.

File Size: 8.59 MB.

Release Date: Jan. 9, 2013.

System requirements: Windows 8, 7, 2000, XP, Vista. 32/64bit versions.

Languages: 23 Languages.

Download at: Glarysoft

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Freeware, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, System Utilities

InternetOff – Or Not?

imageI’m not in the habit of leaving the door to my home wide open – unlocked perhaps – depending on circumstances. But wide open? No. Nor, have I ever developed the habit of leaving my Internet connection wide open – unless I have a need to do so. Otherwise – I break the connection.

My Tablet computer is subject to the same set of rules. Unless I’m actively engaged with the Internet – off goes the Wi-Fi.

As a one-time user, and a big fan of the free ZoneAlarm Firewall (since the “olden days”), disconnecting from the Internet was as simple as flicking a switch from within the ZoneAlarm GUI –  “Stop All Internet Activity”. Until, that is, ZoneAlarm underwent “improvement” to the point that it became useless for my needs. But, that’s another story.

Next up, on the Firewall scene, was PC Tools Firewall Plus which offered the same – “switch off” capabilities. Unhappily though,  PC Tools Firewall Plus, went the way of the Dodo Bird (on Windows 8) – at least as a stand alone application.

Now running to catch up, I finally relented and activated Windows 8 internal firewall which, with the addition of the freebie application, Windows Firewall Control, suits my needs – for now.

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Still, this is a fairly clunky method to accomplish a simple task such as shutting down a Network Adapter (Ethernet Card) – there has to be a better way. Other than pulling the Cat 5 cable.  Smile  And, there is.

Regular reader Hipockets, has reminded me (thank you Sir) that the freebie application – InternetOff – is designed to do just that – turn off an Internet connection.

Installation:

A couple of clicks ……..

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…………… and, you’re finished.

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Following the installation, you’ll find a “Globe” icon in the system tray which when activated, will bring up …….

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Click – and you’re done – as shown in the following screen captures.

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Reverse the process and, you’re back online. Quick, simple, and painless.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win7, 32/64 bit (Tested on Win 8/32 bit under which the application must be run as an administrator).

Download at: The developer’s site.

From the – “he got there first files.” Good friend and fellow blogger, Rick Robinette, posted on this application previously. You’ll enjoy reading Rick’s take on this neat little freebie.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Utilities

ExploitShield Browser Edition – FREE

Cybercriminals design malware to exploit vulnerable systems without user interaction being required – on the one hand, and craft attacks that take advantage of unaware computer users, in which user interaction is required – on the other hand.

The second part, of this two part attack approach, can only be defeated if the computer user is aware of current Internet threats. So, knowledge and experience, are critical ingredients in the never ending, and escalating battle, against cybercriminals.

In order to defeat attacks which rely on exploiting vulnerable systems, the preferred method to do so, is the implementation of a layered security approach. Employing layered security should (I emphasize should), ensure the swift detection of malware, before any damage occurs on the targeted system.

Let’s talk real world:

Given existing technology, no single security application is capable of providing adequate computer system protection. Gaps exist in protection capabilities in even the most sophisticated security applications.

Layering (or stacking) security applications, offers the best chance of remaining infection free, by closing these gaps. Keep in mind however, that even the best layered protection strategy will not make up for the lack of experience, and intuitiveness, of many computer users.

So, stopping the bad guys from gaining a foothold has to be a primary objective of that layered defense strategy that I mentioned earlier. And, part of that strategy includes raising barriers at the doorway to the system – the Internet browser.

ExploitShield (brought to my attention some time ago by good friend Michael Fisher), a free Internet browser security application which is currently in Beta, seems well suited to helping raise those barriers.

From the site:

ExploitShield protects users where traditional security measures fail. It consists of an innovative patent-pending application shielding technology that prevents malicious exploits from compromising computers through software vulnerabilities.

ExploitShield Browser Edition is free for home users and non-profit organizations. It includes all protections needed to prevent drive-by download targeted attacks originating from commercial exploit kits and other web-based exploits.

These type of attacks are used as common infection vectors for financial malware, ransomware, rogue antivirus and other types of nastiest not commonly detected by traditional blacklisting antivirus and security products.

Where’s the proof?

Since I’m just now getting back into application testing, following six months or so of 60+ hours a week assignments, I’ve relied (in this case) on the expert opinion of others (including Neil J. Rubenking), as to the effectiveness of ExploitShield. My apologies for that.

Installation is a breeze and, on application launch, a simple and uncomplicated interface is presented.

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Clicking on the “Shields” tab will provide you with a list of applications protected by ExploitShield – as shown below.

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Once loaded, ExploitShield will run as a background process (shown in the screen capture below – necessary since it provides active protection for the applications shown in the screenshot above.

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As a reminder that ExploitShield is up and running, a new Icon – the “Z”, as shown in the following screen shot ,will appear in the system tray.

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System requirements: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. ExploitShield runs as both 32 bit and native bit.

From the developer: This beta 0.8.1 expires March 31, 2013. Check back to download a new version once expired.

Download at: ZeroVulnerabilityLabs

It may be a new year – but, the state of Internet security is as it ever was – pathetic. The Internet is a world that is full of cybercriminals, scam and fraud artists, and worse. A world that reeks of tainted search engine results, malware infected legitimate websites, drive-by downloads and bogus security software.

Please be guided by the following: Stop – Think – Click. The bad guys really are out to get you.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Browsers, Don't Get Hacked, downloads