Tag: maintenance

Windows 8: Safely eject USB drive

If you are among the lucky to have upgraded to Windows 8 Developer Preview (released September 2011) despite naysayers bemoaning loss of the Start Orb and other Windows 7 and earlier functions, I’m sure you’ll agree there’s lots to love about this new operating system. But one of the things to hate is its USB handling. Although the Release Candidate fixes this glitch, for the rest of us here’s a super-simple fix: (more…)

Get SpywareBlaster 4.4 and block Windows malware

If you are looking for a great anti-spyware software look no further than JavaCools Spywareblaster 4.6. This release improves compatibility with Gecko-powered browsers like Firefox and SeaMonkey (does anyone really use this Netscape Navigator upgrade?). Along with IE for Windows Vista and Windows Seven (7) updates and a number of other bug fixes and improvements.

For those who came in late, SpywareBlaster is among the best tools that block spyware before it affects your browsing. It works for Windows, IE (Internet Explorer) and Firefox. But (still) excludes Opera and Google Chrome. Which is annoying. Are these browsers any safer?

I find the IE tools handy even though I don’t block Flash content as you never know what looks good until after you encounter (qualifier: euphemism for terminating a (bad) person with extreme prejudice [sub-qualifier: CIA term for killing someone] ) it!

The dedicated IE tools are useful. Users can block all Flash content, create encrypted backups of the Hosts file, manage browser page settings, block cookies, and create customized ActiveX blocks. Firefox and Netscape-specific protection only offers cookie blocking, but you can create a customized blacklist that will function across multiple browsers. You can also create a system snapshot for PC recovery in case of a devastating attack.

The interface is designed well, uncluttered and easy to navigate. For $10 a year users can get automatic definition file updates and tech support, otherwise those must be done manually. Equally surprising is there’s till no support for Opera Web Browser or Google Chrome including spyware blocking capabilities. And while I appreciate the good job Spyware Blaster does for my other browsers, Chrome, Chromium and Opera are no longer the only kids on the block!

On first-run Spyware Blaster’ walks you through basic steps including reminding you up front (and often) that you need to update the program. Along with links to enable or disable protection. Program options including browser protect level stats are displayed in the left sidebar. There’s also a comprehensive help file, a “Getting Started” section and a glossary of terms.

The categories are broken into “Protection”, “System Snapshot”, “Tools” and “Updates”. “Protection” is the heart and soul of SpywareBlaster. From here you can selectively choose to block Active-X based spyware and dialers and or spyware tracking cookies. All websites and files to be blocked have a small check box next to them, so you can easily customize your blocked list to allow anything you want. You can verify that it is turned on and protecting Internet Explorer or Mozilla/Firefox.

With “System Snapshot” you can take an image of your computer to restore any system or browser settings should you become infected with spyware. Due to the the many types of spyware out there, and how often new ones appear, this is a great idea for any spyware program.

The “Tools” section allows you to view and change various browser settings, create encrypted backup copies of your hosts file, kill flash animations and specify Active-X controls you want to block. It even allows you to modify a few Internet Explorer options such as: changing the title bar and disabling the Internet Explore home page settings. All of these are very handy if you really want to customize your browser settings.

Finally, the “Updates” section allows you to manually update or configure automatic updates. It also provides a link to make a donation, if so inclined. This was the only place I recall seeing a donation request and thought it was a classy way to do it.

SpywareBlaster only needs to be run to apply your preferences. It does not need to run in order to work, keeping your system free of one less startup program. Opening SpywareBlaster weekly and updating it is all that is needed. Our tests with SpywareBlaster showed it to be very effective at blocking many known web “bugs”. It blocked access to some websites, would not allow Active-X spyware to be installed by others and in some cases simply allowed me to look at websites safely that otherwise would have left a lot of spyware on my machine. That said, a handful bypassed the program. The MySearch toolbar installed without a problem along with a few porn and crack cookies considered spyware by Ad-Aware and Spybot.

Considering SpywareBlaster protects you from over 2,800 known spyware items, it is an excellent tool to install to prevent a lot of web based spyware from ever being installed. It is free, easy to use and quite effective. It is not a tool to use solely to protect yourself from spyware, but a great way to start. As long as you keep in mind that it will not protect you from everything, and keep your favorite spyware cleaning tool handy, SpywareBlaster is a must have program.

Free Windows Defragmenter does Folders and Drives

This is to introduce you to the superb Auslogics Disk Defrag software. That can handle defragmentation not only at the drive level. But can also defragment individual folders.

For those new to computer maintenance (and this blog?), defragmentation is

a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation in file systems. It does this by physically organizing the contents of the disk to store the pieces of each Auslogics Disk Defrag to defragment my most frequently accessed (and updated) folders I noticed a definite improvement is the access time at both disk and file levels.

And when on the Auslogics web site do look at their other free and paid products. You might find something else that helps optimize your computer. And make life a bit faster and smoother in this new year.