Kiss Norton Good Bye

By: Dilip Dahanukar

The main reason why we were paying for the anti-virus software was to prevent the loss of precious data and the save the downtime resulting from the system crash due to virus attack. But there was never any humility in the popup windows which asked you to 'run live update', 'your computer is unsafe', 'renew or expire', 'shell out or crash'. It reflected an arrogant attitude which irked me into thinking how to stick my finger up at those popup anti-virus dictates.
My prayer seemed to be answered. Window Vista's feature for seeking permission through a pop-up window for running any application aroused my curiosity to know more about it. I found out that there is a new in-built program called Windows Defender which is protecting my computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by unwanted software. It scans the system and contains real-time security! It works with the filter using the database of Microsoft's SpyNet. It recommends corrective actions and minimizes interruptions and helps you stay productive. Windows Defender is FREE. You can download it for Windows XP too!
As in the software, there has been tremendous progress on the hard disc capacity. Now 160GB hard discs have become inexpensive and commonplace. The larger capacity affords the facility to store your data on another partition on the hard disc. I have three partitions, 40GB (C drive), 60GB (D drive), and 60GB (F drive). I use the C drive to install the Windows and other programs. The storage paths of the data are pointed to F drive. In the D drive I have copied program CDs of Windows Vista, the MS Office, and Adobe creative suite. My other favorite progs are also there: World Clock, Calc98, and Sudoku. The new versions of the free utilities as they become available, are downloaded on this drive and kept ready for installation: Skype, Adobe reader, and Irfan view.


The storage of data in another partition, i.e. the F drive, prevents the data from being lost if the computer crashes. The C Drive can be formatted in isolation without affecting D and F drives. The storage of programs in the D drive makes it easy, quick and painless to re-install all the programs without much ado.
You need to follow a certain discipline in order to keep the risk of virus attack at bay. The most dangerous sites are the XXX ones. These adult sites open a can of worms which invade your computer. Best is to avoid visiting these sites. However, if you can't resist temptation of seeing adult pics, there is a safe way to do it. Go to google.com and open preferences. Scroll down to 'Safe Search Filtering'. Select 'Do Not Filter My Search Results'. Save preferences. Come back to Google opening screen and click on Images. Now search for adult content by typing out the XXX term in the search bar. Viola! You will see thumbnails of what you are looking for. Click on the thumbnail for a larger size. But do not click on any of the links; if you do you will be drawn straight into the virus whirlpool. And if there are kids in the house, don't forget to change the preferences back to safe search before shutting down the computer!
The second most common door for the virus is the email client. You have to shut it. The availability of large-storage netmail accounts which started with googlemail, have made the automatic desktop download redundant. Now Aol, Hotmail, Yahoo all have very large storage facilities for your mail. Besides, these are all free and you can open as many accounts as you wish. You can forward your mail messages to these accounts to increase your storage capacity if required. You can download and save the attachments from your inbox mail on to your computer and if you wish to save any mail text, it is best to cut and paste it into a word file and save it on your computer on the F drive. That way the Outlook Express or the MS Outlook become redundant for email, and need not be used at all for this purpose. Not allowing the mail to download directly on to your PC helps in blocking one of the main pathways of infection.
I always find certain freshness in my computer when I reinstall the Windows. This is probably because the usage of the computer results in accumulating all kinds of rubbish data in the memory. I think the best thing to do is to format the C drive and reinstall Windows periodically, once in six months or a year. You can then reinstall the programs stored in the D drive. The latest versions of Skype, Adobe reader and Irfan view downloaded from the net on your F drive, are quickly installed to have them fresh on your computer without the interference of the earlier versions.
Basically you need to install Windows Defender on your Windows XP (or upgrade to Vista), save your data in another partition, and use net based email account for your correspondence. You can then heave a sigh of relief as your fear loss of data would have gone, and you are prepared for the worst by having planned for quick reinstallation of all your programs. You are then ready to kiss Norton good bye!

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