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Top 15 Free Computer Utilities


PC World recently released what it thought was the top 15 PC utilities. You know, the programs that fight back spyware attacks, viruses, Trojan horses, home-page hijackers, and hackers. And those are just the ones you get from the Internet!

In this toolset you will find the best free PC management software:

  • Firewall
  • Spyware buster
  • Antivirus software
  • Rootkit killers
  • Internet security tools




Check Point Software's ZoneAlarm is probably the most popular free firewall available. I used this myself for many years, before my Antivirus program Trend Micro PC-cillon included a firewall.

Zone Alarm supports Windows Vista machines.

The thing I love about Zone Alarm is that it is so easy to configure and use. Something Trend Micro could learn from.

Comodo Firewall Pro

Another great firewall product is Comodo Firewall Pro, which independent testing site Matousec rated as the top firewall. It gained this honor based on offering the highest level of antileak protection, a measure of a firewall's effectiveness. A highly configurable, software that provides a great view of your system and Internet connection.


Avast, free for home and personal use, is a lean piece of software, meaning it doesn't drag down all your pc resources and RAM, like many paid versions.

Avast includes live scanning to prevent viruses from infecting your PC, and a scheduled and Web-based e-mail scan for viruses. It also protects against instant messaging viruses, peer-to-peer dangers and more.

Rootkit Killer

AVG Anti-Rootkit

One of the worst types of malware is the rootkit malicious software. Many anti-malware programs cannot detect Trojan horses etc hidden in rootkit. They access your pc, take it over without your knowledge and wreck havoc, leaving you totally miffed as to what is happening. AVG Anti-Rootkit's sole purpose is to find and kill rootkits. It scans your PC, sniffing rootkits out and removing any it finds. Doesn't yet work with Windows Vista.


Spyware Blaster

There are many kinds of spyware. The most malicious and dangerous are: autodialers, home page hijackers, and others that install themselves as ActiveX controls.

Spyware Blaster protects you against these programs by:

  • blocking the installation of ActiveX-based malware and other types of spyware
  • eradicating tracking cookies that might otherwise invade your privacy.

The program works with Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer. It also prevents your browser from being diverted to dangerous sites. The utility's System Snapshot, acts like a restore program, taking a snapshot of your PC so that if your computer gets infected, you can restore it to the clean version.

Internet Security Tools

AOL Active Security Monitor

Reviews your PC security and reports it's findings along wth recommendations. It checks:

  • Antivirus software definitions are up to date
  • Tests your antispyware is working
  • Tests whether you have a firewall enabled
  • Checks for peer-to-peer software

Does not yet work with Windows Vista.

McAfee SiteAdvisor

McAfee SiteAdvisor warns you when a Web site that you're about to visit may be dangerous. It installs as an Internet Explorer toolbar or as a Firefox plug-in. It then displays a color coded icon next to search results on Google and other search engines.

It checks sites for downloads that may be dangerous, and for evidence that they will send you spam if you give them your e-mail address.

LinkScanner Lite

A separate tool, rather than browser plug-in. You need to open LinkScanner Lite and type in a site URL; the utility checks the site for dangerous scripts, bad downloads, and other hazardous content. It also warns you about phishing sites and other potentially fraudulent online operations. Like McAfee Site Advisor it uses icons next to search reasults but does not check whether sites harbor adware or spyware.

Internet Threat Meter

Symantec's Internet Threat Meter informs you about the latest virus alerts and provides a link to a Symantec site where you can get more information and find fixes. It uses widget in Windows XP, or as a Sidebar Gadget in Windows Vista.

Trend Micro HijackThis

No single antispyware program can detect and eradicate all spyware. If you suspect that your pc has been infected by spyware, but can't track it down using other diagnostic software, try HijackThis. It thoroughly analyzes your Registry and file settings, and creates a log file reporting its results. Then send the file to a computer expert of simply upload the log file to a HijackThis Web site, and ask the community there to analyze it for you.


Every now and then you need to tidy house to make sure that no harmful scripts are tracking your Internet use or passing private information. These tools assist by encrypting private information, disabling potentially harmful scripts, and cleaning up accumulated data to help strengthen your security.

Kruptos 2

To prevent access to your most private files, Kruptos 2 uses powerful, 128-bit encryption to scramble files and folders so that only you can read them. Great for those easy to lose USB flash drives and portable storage devices. Kruptos 2 also lets you create self-extracting, encrypted archives; shred deleted files to vanish from your hard disk. It can also disguise the encrypted filename.

Transaction Guard

A free ActiveX control based security tool from Trend Micro. It is both a real time spyware detector and eradicator , and provides a "secret keyboard" to ensure that passwords and other sensitive information aren't stolen over the Internet. Rather than typing your password directly into the webiste, you enter it on the secret keyboard, which copies the password to the clipboard, from which it gets pasted directly into a Web form.


Keep forgetting to clean out those temporary Internet files, history list, cookies, autocomplete entries, etc. Then wonder why your PC is running slow. CCleaner gives your PC a thorough clean up to both enhance your privacy, and regain hard disk space. Expect it to take a while to run for the first time, and be delighted with the room it creates.


Java and JavaScript scripts and applets are becoming common-place on the Internet today, seducing us into thinking they are everyday okay. But many are booby-trapped with harmful pieces of code that appear as useful tools. So how do you sort the good from the bad. You don't. NoScript, a free Firefox extension, does. NoScript prevents all JavaScript and Java applets from running, except on sites that you designate as safe.

That can be a bit of pain at the start, but once your normal sites are listed as safe, it becomes a lot less intrusive. The extension presents you with a list of safe sites, which you can add to. NoScript tells you when it has blocked Java or JavaScript on a site. It also blocks Java, Flash, and other plug-ins on sites you don't trust.

File Shredder 2

Delete a file and empty your Recycle Bin.... and then you cannot find that file you just spent hours creating. This special software can re-create it. But if you really want it gone forever, File Shredder 2 overwrites any file or folder with a random string of binary data, multiple times. With a choice of five different shredding algorithms, just choose your files, tell the program to shred them, and they'll be gone forever.

Next: Using Your TV As A Computer Monitor

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