Tag Archive for antivirus

Avast AntiVirus — Upgrade to Avast 5.0 Free!

Ever since I’ve started this blog I have supported one antivirus program above all others, and that antivirus is avast!

This great program has just been improved. They recently came out with Avast! 5.0. this is the biggest improvement they’ve made to the program in the 3 years or so that I’ve been recommending it.

Avast 5.0 includes:

  • File System Shield: Ensures your files are clean and safe. It scans your files when they’re opened or when they’re being saved.
  • Mail Shield: Monitors alll your email traffic, incoming and outgoing, making sure the messages and attachements you send and recive are clean and safe.
  • Web Shield: Montiors your web browsing to ensure you aren’t affected by any compromised or harmful web sites.
  • P2P Shield: Peer to peer shield protects your computer if you use file sharing systems, like LimeWire. Like the mail shield, it makes sure incoming and outgoing files are virus-free.
  • IM Shield: Now that Instant messaging and chat programs have file sharing capability, you’ll want to be sure the files your share are safe. It monitors all the popular IM programs such as Google Talk, AIM from AOL, Trillian, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Messenger among others.
  • Network Shield: Monitors your network connections and stops any viruses that could infect your system via the network.. It also blocks access to known “malicious websites”.
  • Behavior Shield: Monitors your system for suspicious behavior and alerts you to unusual activity.

Download the latest Avast 5.0 today! And check out my other articles on Avast for more info.

Anti-Spyware and Anti-Virus for new computers

I’m picking up where I left off last week with the $450 computer system I built for a client. The system has 2 GB of RAM, a dual core processor, a 500GB hard drive, a DVD burner, and it runs the latest Windows 7 operating system.

In my last article, I listed some software I install on a typical new computer; today, I’ll continue by discussing spyware protection with PC Tools Spyware Doctor and virus protection using avast!

Viruses and Spyware: What’s the difference?


  • Viruses are small programs or snippets of computer code that are designed to spread from one computer to another by infecting email messages, computer files, or storage media. When another computer opens an infected file, message, or disc, the virus has an opportunity to infect the new computer.
  • Viruses often have noticeable affects such as slowing down a computer, blocking access to files, causing unusual counds or messages to appear, or even the deletion of files stored on a system.
  • Each virus needs specific conditions in order to take effect. For example, some viruses may require that a file or email message needs to be opened — often by a specific program (Word, Excel, etc.). In some cases your computer maybe infected, but without the necessary activating conditions, you may never notice the virus’s presence, but it is still possible for the the virus to spread if the infected message or file is sent to another computer.
  • Viruses can be detected and eliminated by anti-virus software.


  • Spyware, as it names implies, is more difficult to spot. After all, a good spy shouldn’t be noticed.
  • While viruses are designed to spread on their own, spyware is often intentionally downloaded by a computer user. Typically the user is deceived and lead to believe that the program they are downloading is useful, beneficial, or desirable.
  • Spyware is often designed to seek out personal information, or to trick the computer user into providing personal information.
  • Some spyware may have “viral elements” which enable to spyware to spread to other computers. Such spyware can be detected by anti-virus software.
  • Spyware without a viral element is detectable by anti-spyware software.

Many computer owners mistakenly believe that they only need one or the other, but if you use the Internet you should have both types of software installed on your computer. Antispyware doesn’t detect viruses, and antivirus programs only detect some spyware programs (as mentioned above).

avast! antivirus

My antivirus software of choice is avast! This program is free for home users with only one computer. If you have more than one computer, they ask that you download the avast! Pro version. avast! Pro for one computer is $40, $55 for three computers, and $85 for 5 computers. I have installed this software on over a hundred computers, and there have been no complaints from anyone who’s used it.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor

My favorite anti-spyware program is PC Tools Spyware Doctor. I found this program several years ago, and was happily surprised to find it caught more spyware than any other program of its kind. I’ve been using it and recommending it ever since.

Spyware Doctor just keeps getting better with age. The latest version includes anti-virus software, and the October 2009 issue of PC Magazine says:

“The latest Spyware Doctor proved effective in every area of malware removal and blocking. It’s a great product.”

Spyware Doctor can be installed on up to three computers for $39.95. It’s only available online. Click the links above or the picture at left in order to buy your copy. Its available as a download and as a mail-order CD.

Registering Avast Home Edition AntiVirus

Back in February of this year I wrote an article, Free AntiVirus and No Catch, about the Avast Home Edition AntiVirus program. The article included a list of steps to follow when registering Avast.

Today, a client of mine from New York City emailed to ask me how to re-register Avast. The steps from the prior article still apply, but this time I’ve made a video demonstrating the registration process. Take a look. Consult the earlier article for additional information.

Monday, I’ll have a video demonstration on some recommended configuration settings for Avast! Enjoy the weekend, and, as always, feel free to send me your questions or comments.

Free AntiVirus and No Catch

Good morning, blogosphere!!!!

On the rare moments when conversations turn to antivirus programs, people often ask which one I use. My answer is avast! (lower case “a”) from Alwil Software. Yep, avast!, just like the pirates said.

If you only have one computer you can download, install, and use it for free. No catches. It’s fully functional for free.

avast! Home Edition is suitable for use on a family computer, and their license allows you to install the software on a home office computer, too. It’s free for one computer, and if you have more than one computer you can purchase 2 avast! Professional Edition licenses for $68 total. Discounts are available for two or three year purchases.

For more than 2 computers in your household consider using their avast! Professional Family Pack for $80 which allows you to install it on up to 10 computers.

Get avast! Home Edition

logo_avast_02Go to the avast! Home Edition download pageto download the program. It’s small enough to fit onto a thumb drive if you need to install it on a computer other than the one you’re sitting at. (The downloaded file is named “setup***.exe” The asterisks stand for the letters of the language version you chose, so the English version is setupeng.exe.)

save-or-runIf you’re going to install on the computer you’re sitting at just choose the “Run” option instead of “Save”, but make sure you’ve removed any existing antivirus on your computer beforehand. If you don’t know how to uninstall software, checkout this Windows XP uninstallation tutorial at About.com or this simple Windows Vista program uninstallation tutorial from Microsoft.

After you’ve installed the software, you’ll be told to restart the computer, and you’ll be asked if you want to run a virus scan when it restarts. If you’ve been without antivirus software for a while, I recommend running the start up scan.

When your computer has returned to the desktop screen, you will see the little blue ball with the white lower case “a” and another with a lower case “i” next to the clock in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Those are the avast! icons. Point at the one with the “i”, right click and choose “merge” and you’ll have one less icon there.

Register avast!

Now you should register the program so that it is fully functional after the trial period.  It’s free, so go ahead and register. they just ask for your email address, name, and country. Use your real email address so you will receive the registration number.

To register avast!

  1. licenseRight click the avast icon! by the clock, and choose “About avast!” A small dialog box appears (shown at right).
  2. Click the “License key…” button, and the Registration dialog box appears.
  3. Click “Program registration” and a browser window will open onto the avast Program Registration page. Fill in the form, etc., and click “Register”.
  4. regmailCheck your email for a message from avast. You’ll see a message like the one at right. Highlight the line of numbers and letters between the two “cut here” lines. Then copy the highlighted code. (I like to use CTRL+C on the keyboard, or right click and choose Copy with the mouse).
  5. regscreenClose some windows and get back to the Registration dialog box. Highlight the license key area, and paste the code you copied in the last step. (I use CTRL+V on the keyboard or right click, Paste with the mouse).
  6. Click “OK” and you’re set. No need to re-register for another year.

Click here to see a video demonstration of the avast! registration process.

One last thing


avast! updates the software periodically, and you’ll want the software to install automatically. Here’s how to set avast! to update for you.

  1. Right click the avast! icon by the clock on the lower right of your screen, and choose “Program Settings…”. A dialog box appears onscreen.
  2. Click “Update (Basic) on the left hand sidebar of the screen.
  3. Click the two radio buttons labelled “Automatic”, click “OK”, and you’re done! avast! will keep itself updated automatically from this point forward.

I’ve been using avast! for over 4 years now, and I’m very happy with the program. I’ve seen it catch stuff the better known programs have missed, and it doesn’t slow down my computer like some of the better known antivirus programs do.

Other Versions

avast! is also available for Macs and Linuxbased computers. Mac users often overlook antivirus protection because there are so few Mac viruses out there, but I find many Mac computers turn into PC virus carriers, and unknowingly end up spreading viruses to their PC using friends.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

Great Advice for New Computer Owners

Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post has an excellent article, “Pre-Flight Instructions For Your New Computer”, for new computer owners. Whether you have a new PC or a new Mac he offers excellent advice for getting started with your new computer.  Here are a few of the recommendations he’s made for users of Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard:

  • Activate the pre-installed antivirus on a PC. (Skylarking note: Or download Avast at www.avast.com, and download the Home edition. It’s free if you only have it iusntalled on one PC in your household. Mac users can consider getting an antivirus program at the Apple Store online to spare your PC using friends from viruses you might accidentally pass on.)
  • Turn on the firewall on your Mac: Click System Preferences >> Security>> Firewall >> “Set access for specific services and applications”. (Note: The firewall on Windows Vista PC is active out of the box.)
  • Download system updates. Vista: Start >> Control Panel >> Check for updates. Mac: Apple-icon >> Software Update.
  • Remove “trialware” and buy the $150 Home and Student Edition of Microsoft Office 2007, or download the free OpenOffice 3 at http://openoffice.org or use the free Google Docs Web-based software at http://docs.google.com. Uninstall software via Start >> Control Panel >> Uninstall a program.
  • Declutter the desktop: Drag and drop unwanted icons into the Recycle Bin, or use right-click and delete on the icons.
  • Declutter the Mac’s Dock: Drag unwanted icons off the Dock, and they’ll vanish.
  • Backup: Use Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center with an external drive, or, if you have a broadband connection, use a free online backup via Mozy at http://mozy.com.
  • Backup on a Mac: Get an external hard driveand use Apple’s Time Machine software.
  • Surfing the Web? Get Mozilla Firefox, http://mozilla.com, for free. Many people prefer it over the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mac’s Safari.
  • Rest: Don’t rush to install your old programs, and “don’t go crazy trying out new ones.”
  • For an old printer or scanner: Go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the updated drivers instad of using the ones on the original CDs. (Skylarking note: You might also find that the Windows drivers are sufficient for operationg these items.)

He makes additional suggestions regarding email applications (Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail), music and video playing software (iTunes), and photo editing tools such as Picasa.

Check out Rob Pegoraro’s article in full and enjoy your new computer. Happy holidays!

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

Apple Encourages AntiVirus Use for Macs?!

[Links in this article were updated 12/2010] This was an article I had started on Dec. 1, but never finished. I publish it now because an interesting twist came along later.

Apple updated an article on its knowledge base site to encourage “the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities” on Mac computers:

On November 21, 2008, article HT2550 as follows:

Learn about antivirus utilities available for the Mac OS.

Products Affected
Consumer Software, Mac OS

Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult. Here are some available antivirus utilities:

  • Intego VirusBarrier X5, available from the Apple Online Store
    License: commercial
  • Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11 for Macintosh, available from the Apple Online Store
    License: commercial
  • McAfee VirusScan for Mac
    License: commercial

I’ve encouraged the use of anti-virus software on Macs for a long time now. Mainly due to the possibility that Macs could become carriers of PC viruses. A Mac user could unknowingly receive an infected document and then forward it to someone else; not knowing they had just passed on an infected file.

As I said, I never published the post, but several other blogs and news outlets reported on it, most notable Brian Krebs of the Washington Post. Then came the twist, Apple pulled the report from its Knowledge Base.

I still endorse the use of antivirus software on Macs. Sure, there are few Mac viruses out there, but the number will likely grow along with their popularity; and, sure, Macs need not worry about being affected by PC viruses, but there is still the risk that a Mac user will unknowingly receive and forward an infected file.  Restated, a person using a Mac might receive an infected article, and not know it was infected, and then forward it to someone else, perhaps to a PC using friend.

Don’t let your Mac be a “Typhoid Mary”. (Mary Mallon (1869-1938) was a cook who was found to be a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. She never succombed to the illness, but many people around her did).

Look into a quality antivirus program for your Mac, particularly if you share file with PC using friends. After all, not all of them are using an antivirus utility either.

Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus for Mac is available from these online retailers:

Norton AntiVirus 11 for Mac

is the world s most trusted antivirus solution for Mac systems.* It removes
viruses automatically, cleans infected Internet and email downloads, and
protects against advanced online threats and attacks that target software
vulnerabilities. It s also compatible with Mac OS X v10.5 and takes full
advantage of the new operating system s advanced features to help you protect
your Mac even better. Powerful, built-in vulnerability protection helps
prevent identity thieves from exploiting newly discovered application and
operating system weaknesses. And as always, LiveUpdate makes it easy to
keep your virus and vulnerability protection updates current against new
threats. Includes Norton AntiVirus 2009 for Windows to protect those who
use their Intel based Mac to run Mac OS X and Windows operating systems.

Symantec Norton Internet Security v.4.0 for Mac Internet Security – Complete
Product – 1 User – Mac, Intel-based Mac
nonintrusive security suite with a simple, easy-to-use interface that includes
protection found in Norton AntiVirus v.11.0 for Mac, Norton Confidential,
and two-way firewall functionality and automatically detects and removes
spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, malware, and Internet worms.

Intego NetBarrier X5 – Complete Product – Standard – 1 User – Retail – Mac
Intego VirusBarrier X5 is the simple, fast and non-intrusive antivirus solution
for Macintosh computers. It offers thorough protection against viruses and
malware of all types, coming from infected files or applications, whether
on CD-ROMs, DVDs or other removable media, or in files downloaded over the
Internet or other types of networks.

BitDefender Antivirus Antivirus – 2 User – Intel-based Mac

pro-actively protects 2 Macs for 2 years against the new breed of Mac viruses.
Plus, it destroys Windows viruses (which don’t affect Macs) so that you
don’t accidentally pass them on to your family, friends and colleagues using