AVG 7.0

Regular readers of my column will know of my continued support of the free version of the online AVG virus checker.Whilst it is by no means perfect I do prefer it to other virus checkers I have tried on the market mainly due to the fact that it is a small, unobtrusive product which does the job extremely well.

I am not a big fan of huge programs such as Norton Internet Security as although they do their job well they always seem to interfere with the running of the PC a little too much with their bulky software.

I like things to be kept simple and hence hate to see Windows XP machines with the inbuilt firewall software turned on along with a dozen other products sat in the background running secondary firewalls, spam prevention, anti-virus protection, parental controls, privacy control software and so on.There really is no need especially when you consider that all these programs cost money which could be saved and spent on something a little more useful.

In the past I have seen speedy machines fall to their knees after having had the entire Mcafee suite installed and this really isn’t necessary!The reason for this little criticism about some users’ security arrangements has been bought about by the news that AVG Anti-virus 7 Free Edition has been recently released to supersede the AVG 6 Free Edition I have been recommending in the past.

There are several improvements in this new software to the scanning engine, user interface and e-mail scanner but nothing too dramatic.Having said that it is certainly worth existing users downloading the new software especially when you consider that support for AVG 6 will be discontinued shortly.

A question I am asked over and over again is how do they make such a supposedly good virus checker if it is free of charge, especially if it contains no spyware or advertising?Who pays for it?The answer is simply that the authors make money from professional users who wish to deploy AVG across networks or file severs and those home users who require more features than the free edition.Providing the free edition to home users is a good way to spread the word about the software and provides a perfect way for devising improvements due to feedback from existing users.

Assuming that you are using Windows XP, I would personally work on the following configuration to obtain the ideal balance between security and speed.

-Install Windows XP Service pack 2 or obtain the free CD by visiting www.microsoft.com

-Ensure the inbuilt Windows XP firewall is active and that your system is set to update itself automatically with the latest Windows updates.

-Uninstall any out of date Anti-Virus software and download AVG Free Edition from www.grisoft.com and ensure that it is set to update automatically.

-Download Spybot Search & Destroy from security.kolla.de, choose to update the program and then set it to scan for Spyware and help immunise you against further infection.

The best news about all of these security features is that they won’t cost you a penny and although you obviously don’t have to take my advice I believe that people make a big deal about securing their computers online and confusion in the market has lead to people buying products they don’t require and worst of all slowing their machines down.By using a touch of commonsense and following the four steps above you can ensure that your Windows XP machine is safe online without costing you a penny and without any nasty side effects.Just trust me!

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.