Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Best Antivirus For Netbooks?

Reader Asks My Reco On Antivirus For Their Netbook

Q: Hey TP. I want to say thanx for your website. I just baught my first netbook and I love it. It is windows 7 and is ASUS 1005PE. Can you tell me what antivirus I should get? Thanx.

A: Dear Sir or Ms.,
Congratulations on your new computer. One of the neat things about netbooks – I am frequently told – is how small and portable they are, yet they are big enough to do some “normal computing” on. That’s on the “plus” side.

But on the “minus” side is that this compact portability is achieved by using “modest” components — a “reduced horsepower”, if you will.

Netbooks are not powerhouses, and it pays to use software on them that has a “small footprint” (not demand too much CPU, RAM, etc.). And that is certainly a factor to consider when choosing an antivirus.

Were I to own a netbook, I would install either one of two titles, and!, both are free.
1) If I were to own an older, or really basic (aka “budget”) netbook I would use Panda’s Cloud Antivirus. Or..

2) On a reasonably equipped netbook, I would install Microsoft Security Essentials.
2a.) If Microsoft is not your thing, you might try Avast! 5.0.

I should say, though, that your ASUS has an Intel Atom N450, and very good specs for a netbook, so you could probably run most any Internet security product on it. My list of recommended antivirus products is here, and my Anti-spyware list is here.

PS — WinPatrol is also a great security program for netbooks, and!, I just happen to be having a license giveaway contest (nice segue, eh?) for it this week.


** A Chance To Win A Valuable Prize! **


You say you don’t know about Scotty and WinPatrol? I have recommended it here before, and I’ve used it for so long I can’t remember. I consider WinPatrol one of those essential programs to have around.

To enter my license giveaway drawing, please see: WinPatrol PLUS License Giveaway

Here’s another good review of WinPatrol: WinPatrol Revisited – Powerful HIPS with a Bite

Today’s recommended reading: The flipside: Five things Microsoft is doing right in 2010

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 16, 2010 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, hardware, Internet, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, security, tech, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Holiday Software License Giveaway: Handy Backup

Folks, I am pleased to announce my latest software license giveaway drawing.

The folks at have generously donated five licenses for Handy Backup Standard to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing¹ contest from folks who “enter” by posting a comment (below). The drawing will close Thursday, June 3rd, and the winners announced Friday. So act now.

Handy Backup is a program for creating “backup copies” of the files on your computer, which regular readers know, is something I repeatedly urge people to get into the habit of doing! With a backup program like Handy Backup, you don’t need a ‘habit’, you can set-it-and-forget-it. Below, I will give you my impressions and some screenshots, but first…

CNet Editors say,
“Handy Backup Standard offers users an easy, streamlined approach to backing up important files and folders. Novice users will especially appreciate the program’s easy navigation.”

Publisher’s description:

Handy Backup™ Standard is an easy-to-use backup software designed to perform automated backup of your computer. User-friendly interface and a rich set of backup features make it one of the best PC backup software for home and small office use.

Handy Backup will automatically backup your data with the options of file mask filtering, backup compression, backup encryption, “native”, and other options. The application supports backing up to DVD/CD, Blu-ray, HD DVD discs, LAN/FTP and Online.

Here is a “slideshow” of screenshots of Handy Backup Standard.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I found it easy enough for beginners, as it uses a “wizard” to walk you through the process of creating a “task” (a backup, or a restore) the first time it runs (but after that first time, you need to click on “New task”, which is not made obvious). I particularly like Handy Backup’s ability to automatically “span” a backup set across multiple CD/DVD discs (you must place a check in a checkbox, though), prompting you to insert a fresh disc when it fills up the current one. (One other note.. you need to place a check in “Verify the backup after burning” to help ensure a successful write. This should be the default, IMHO.) Handy Backup successfully handled every backup and every restore operation I tested it with. It is a full-featured backup solution.
One critique: it does not support “selective file restoring”.

(Those of you in medium to large business environments will want to look at Handy Backup Server. Handy Backup Server is a complete enterprise backup solution that allows performing centralized backup of all network workstations, on a client-server scheme.)

How to enter? To enter the drawing, simply click on “comment”, and enter a name and valid e-mail (so I can send you the key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but multiple entries will result in disqualification.

Again, I thank the folks at for making this giveaway possible. A 30-day free trial can be downloaded here, Download Handy Backup. Try it out yourself. (And then leave a comment. You may just win an activation key..)

¹ All entrants will be placed into Random.org’s “randomizer”, and the top 5 results will be the winners.

Please have a safe and joyous Holiday.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 31, 2010 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, PC, software | , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

HTC Incredible, 10 Products, Contest Deadline, more…

A few interesting items for your consideration…

HTC Incredible, source Crazy World of G
Two days ago, my HTC Incredible arrived (a day ahead of schedule) and I charged it up and set it up the next morning. I was amazed at how easy it was to set up and how fast and snappy the Android OS is! …

The 10 Most Overrated Products, source PC World
Hype springs eternal. Lots of technologies, products, and services don’t merit the praise heaped on them. Here are 10 tech items that don’t live up to their billing–and 10 that deserve respect that they don’t receive …

Know What An Internet (Web) Bot Is?…A Botnet? source Paul’s Home Computing Blog
Okay…now let’s cover the dirty side of these destructive, criminal, and obnoxious rascals …”


** A Chance To Win A Valuable Prize! **


The folks at Eset have generously donated ten licenses for NOD32 Antivirus 4, to award to my readers. You might not have heard of Eset or NOD32, but it has quietly been around, and winning awards, since the early 90′s (the days of DOS). To enter the drawing, please see: Software License Giveaway: NOD32 Antivirus 4. Enter my current giveaway and (possibly) win!

Entries must be received before midnight (Pacific) tonight (Thurs. May 27th) so act now!

[These licenses were provided by Kimbal Binder, Network Security Manager at Rain Networks. Those of you who are in IT may want to click here and visit the IT Security Resource Center, and learn more about Eset in the enterprise (trials available). Please direct questions to Kimbal at Kimbalb(at)rainnetworks(dot)com.]

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 27, 2010 Posted by | computers, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Windows XP?

I am often asked by clients using XP if they should “upgrade” their machines to a newer OS.

Microsoft’s Windows XP was their most successful operating system to date and more than half the computers in the world are still using Windows XP. There are several reasons for that. (One big one is software “pirates” and “warez”. Another is businesses, gov’ts, and org’s don’t have the cushion in their budgets to upgrade.)

XP was released in 2001. It was the first consumer-oriented operating system produced by Microsoft to be built on the “business grade” Windows NT kernel — which was far less prone to random Blue Screens Of Death (BSOD’s) than the Windows 9x architecture was.

Windows XP has many loyal fans. I used (and liked) Windows XP right up to 2007, when I was able to get advanced copies of a new operating system, “codename Longhorn” — which became “Vista”. I still have a couple XP machines I occasionally use for testing purposes, but the keyword there is “occasionally”.

Windows XP was, after Service Pack 2, stable, rather fast, and most of the software (aka “programs”) ever written would run on it. It had/has the “modern” abilities we needed to really allow the Internet to blossom and grow. The point of my article today is not to “dis”, “knock”, or “put down” Windows XP in any way. It is/was a “complete OS”; versatile; capable; and, the world of computing (and the Internet) would not be what it is today without it. It was an important part of our tech evolution.

But that is my key point – evolution. (In tech.)

2001 may not seem like all that long ago to you. But in the arena of technology and computers (as stated by Moore’s Law), 2001 is either 4 1/2 “generations” ago, or 6 generations.. depending how you count. Let’s be conservative, and call it 4. In terms of hardware/software, Windows XP is a Great-grandpa. (Or.. a Great, great, great grandpa. Depending how you count.) In terms of Microsoft OSes; it has been ‘succeeded’ by Vista, Vista + SP1, Vista + SP2, and now Windows 7 (with SP1 for Win7 not long off).

Fact: Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP.
Phasing it out.
“Retiring” it.
Their most successful product.
(“.. turn out the lights .. the party’s over ..)

Support for Windows XP Service Pack 2 will be retired on July 13, 2010. Microsoft stopped general licensing of Windows XP to manufacturers and terminated retail sales of the operating system on June 30, 2008.

On April 14, 2009, Windows XP and its family of operating systems were moved from Mainstream Support to the Extended Support phase. During the Extended Support Phase, Microsoft will continue to provide security updates every month for Windows XP.

On April 8, 2014, all Windows XP support, including security updates and security-related hotfixes, will be terminated.

Is it time to say goodbye To Windows XP?
I am often asked by clients using XP if they should “upgrade” their machines to a newer OS, or buy a new computer altogether. What answer I give depends on several factors, but basically my decision boils down to the “generation” of their hardware, and whether or not they have any ‘mission-critical’ programs that are XP-only (i.e., DOS-based).

* Is your Hard Drive an IDE? When you plug in a USB device, do you get a message saying “This device can perform faster” and something about USB 2.0? Is your CPU (aka “processor”) a “single-core” (Pentium 4/Athlon 64 or older)? Do you have 1 GB (or less) of PC400 – PC800 RAM?
(You can see most of these things by looking at your System Properties. Right-click on “My Computer”, and selecting “Properties”. Then look at your HD’s Properties in Device Manager.)

If you answered “yes” to the above, my answer is to forget about upgrading to Vista or Win 7, and instead save your money for a new machine. Keep your machine XP until you can retire it. But be aware, XP is aged and vulnerable to cybercriminals: make sure you have proper defenses in place. Please see, Top 10 things you should do to your computer for the tools and How To’s for that.

However, if you answered mostly “no” to that checklist (in other words, you have a dual-core, more than 1.5 GB’s of RAM [and it’s DDR2]. and your USB busses are 2.0, and your HD is a SATA, well, then, you might want to consider upgrading to Windows 7. (Or at least, creating a “dual boot” setup. See, Video Tutorial — How To Dual Boot Win7.)
But it is very important that you download and run Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor first. It will scan your machine and tell you if you have any incompatibilities, and save you a ton of headaches.

The critical reviews of Windows 7 are in, and they are over-whelmingly positive. A long time ago, I wrote A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 RC; my enthusiasm for Win 7 has not faded in the time since. I will repeat my “general opinion” of Win 7 –> it is the Windows that Bill Gates has promised us since way back when Windows 95 was released.

But! Short version, seriously consider a new machine over an upgrade. A new machine will be 64-bit, and have the current generation of hardware, and it will come with Windows 7 already set up and configured. A new machine will last you more years to come; while XP’s days are running out.


*** A Chance To Win A Valuable Prize! ***


The folks at SYNCING.NET have generously donated six Professional Edition licenses to me, to award to my readers. SYNCING.NET is a Business Class program which enables users to sync their Microsoft Outlook data on multiple computers.
To enter the drawing, please see:
Software License Giveaway: SYNCING.NET
Enter my current giveaway and (possibly) win a license!

Today’s recommended reading:
* Google Admits Tracking WiFi Payloads
* Canada’s Super Spies “Discover” Cybercrime is a Threat

Today’s free download: Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. Find out if your PC can run Windows 7.
To see if your PC is ready for Windows 7, download the free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. It scans your PC for potential issues with your hardware, devices, and installed programs, and recommends what to do before you upgrade.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 19, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, tech, upgrading, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dream Machine

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby (#2)

I was cleaning out a drawer the other day, and – down at the bottom, in the back, I found this sales brochure. When I saw it, two words popped into my mind: “dream machine“.

Dell sales brochure, 1997

Yes. I said “dream machine”.

My P-II was only a 233. And RAM was so expensive, going from my 32 MB’s all the way to 64 was only a young(er) man’s fantasy.

And I would never have to delete files to make room on my hard drive.. who could fill a whopping 6.4 Gigs?

[a brief aside: An interesting (to me anyway) side note.. looking at the date – the end of 1997, and doing some quick math, 13 years. Makes me marvel at how time seems to be compressing. When I talk with older folks, they tell me 13 years is not all that long. When I talk with younger folks, they think 13 years is forever. Whichever. 1997 was long before the “Y2K bug” and the World Trade Center attack.. and so it surely qualifies as Ancient History. (Sigh)]

Related reading:
* Then and now– advances in tech*
* When bigger was better

(It’s OK. You can admit it. Looking at that changed your attitude about the price of a new computer.. didn’t it? Did for me. I had forgotten…)


*** A Chance To Win A Powerful Prize! ***


Q: Folks, do you want have an reliable tool to Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats?
A: Yes.

Today’s free download: Software License Giveaway Drawing
Enter and (possibly) win a lifetime license.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 11, 2010 Posted by | computers, tech | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Reminder For Spring

Spring — Time For Taxes And, Cleaning

Recently I posted What The Inside Looks Like… which showed the insides of computers, and a savvy and experienced gentleman wrote in and pointed out that looking inside your PC will reveal a build up of dust and lint. Oh, yes! (Especially if your floor is carpeted.) Like most technicians, I carry a can of air, and as a ‘value add’, will blow that gunk out for my clients. Why?

Tip of the day: Get rid of the dust and lint. Dust and lint can reduce your computer’s performance, cooling efficiency, and even cause ‘fatal’ short-circuits. It is simple, and doesn’t take long.. and it’s important. So for your “Spring cleaning” this year, don’t forget your computer!

* For desktop PCs, unplug your computer’s power cord from the wall and open your computer’s case so you can see all the neat-o circuitry inside. How, exactly your case opens will vary with make/model, but it is usually a side panel, and the side panel is held in place with two thumb-screws (the manufacturer’s website will have instructions).
Once the case is open, use the techniques I described in my printer maintenance article to remove the built-up dust bunnies. Pay special attention to air venting areas (and screens), such as by the power supply. (And, be careful and be gentle.)

* For notebooks, your cleaning is going to be a little different: you will want to get all the debris from out from under your keyboard keys, as I describe in this article. And you’ll want to wipe down your screen with an anti-static cloth (which may may require the slightest [just a drop or two] moistening with plain water.

Today’s free download: PhotoScape “is an all-in-one style photo editor with fun and ease of use. Major capabilities are: viewer, editor, batch editor, page, combine, animated GIF, print, splitter, screen capture, color picker, rename, raw converter, resizing, brightness/color/white-balance adjustment, backlight correction, frames, balloons, text, drawing pictures, cropping, filters, red eye removal and blooming.”

Food for thought:

(01-13) Washington –

Twenty-eight percent of all traffic accidents are caused when people talk on cell phones or send text messages while driving, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Safety Council. (Read more, click here.)

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 7, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Timely Advice | Basics For A New PC

Both in my “real job” as a Support & Repair Tech, and as a World Renown Tech Blogger (Ahem), I am frequently asked about various programs you can use to help prevent computer infections, or clean up an infection up after “my teenage son/grandson downloaded something.”

Well, folks, Okay. I will tell you about a tool I use that I mentioned here before. It is an anti-malware scanner that I often use on the job, and on several of my own machines. I install it on the PC’s of my friends and family, and I’ll tell you why — it’s simple and it’s effective.

SAS_banner

If you connect a Windows computer to the Internet you should have:
1)
a firewall turned on (just one).
2) an up-to-date antivirus (just one).
3) One up-to-date anti-spyware with “active shielding” (aka “heuristics“).
4) One “passive”, up-to-date, anti-spyware that you run once a week to catch what the other one misses.
5) A healthy stock of “paranoid common sense”. (No. You did not just win the Irish E-mail Lottery.)

And to my clients and friends, I recommend that they purchase the Professional version so they can have the real-time (“active”) protection and auto-scheduling — set it and forget it. (Another reason I do this is because this tool “plays very nicely with others”, and won’ interfere with their existing protections.) And, folks, I would like you to consider this – I very rarely recommend paying for the “Full” (“Pro”) versions of anything. I reco’ the “lifetime” plan.

‘Tis the season for new computers. I refer those lucky folks to Top 10 things you should do to your computer and Basic Steps For Protecting Your PC.

Today’s free link: SUPERAntiSpyware Online Safe Scan, a powerful new tool in the fight against the latest and particularly difficult malware infections.

Today’s free download: For those who would simply like to learn more about this great program, the SAS website is here. You can download a a fully functional trial of SUPERAntiSpyware Professional, or alternatively, you can download the free version.

I also want to say that I admire the people behind SAS, and they get a big tip of my geek hat. They are hard working and generous and they know their stuff. Their motto is “Remove ALL the Spyware, NOT just the easy ones” and I like that attitude!

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 24, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, PC, security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment