EJM Designs Limited Blog

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Interntet Cleaning: Wash That Junk - Especially the Nasty Bits

(postponed due to wind-based 'lectric impairment. carry on.)
junk

No, of course it's not your mess. Actually, it is. It's all your junk. All the crap you've accumulated on your computer is pork, is baggage, is e-fat, weighing you down and clogging your internet and interactive experience.

Being on and around computers for many, many hours almost every day I sometimes forget that there are certain things are not common knowledge outside my personal circle of conversation. For example, many people are not aware that Roy Scheider ad libbed the famous Jaws line "We're going to need a bigger boat." And Harrison Ford ad libbed "I know" to Leia's proclamation of love to Han Solo. And... wait. I'm falling off track here. I've got to start a movies blog.

Many people still don't realize that when you go online, every image you see is actually stored on your hard drive; when you go to a website, chances are that they put what is called a "cookie" in your browser folder to track if you've been there before (in the most harmless sense) and when you click "Login" and see your username there, you sigh and say "Well, daggum, how sweet they remembered me."

Suffice it to say that every time you go online, your computer stores up files like a Port-a-Potty that never gets emptied. If you don't already know about this, the following advice will help, and if you are already painfully aware, I am taxing your "obvious" threshold.

So here is a brief list of tools that I have used or currently use in order to keep myself and my computer centered. Most are free. I believe every free version has an upgrade or two that are paid versions, if you're interested.

Daily Cleansing

CCleaner

This program used to be called Crap Cleaner. Ah, youth! Then everyone realized that it worked really well. Drat, respectability! Now it's called CCleaner. From the site: "It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history." Works like it says it does. Free.

Window Washer

Webroot produces an entire line of home and office protection software. Window Washer is my only non-free item on the list. That's because I've been using it for about 5 years and am in sweet, sweet love with it. Does all the browser/cookie cleaning that CCleaner does, but also hooks into over 470 third-party programs to erase their history, and the best: bleach.

Lesson bit: When you delete a file, you do not physically remove the file, magnetically erase it, or otherwise dispose of it. You are simply letting the computer know that that area is open for rewriting if it needs it. Computer forensics? That's people who know how to restore those deleted files. See: child pornography rings.

I'm not saying anyone is breaking the law, but Window Washer can, while cleaning your internet cache, overwrite those files with junk data up to NSA's 13x + so that you have some peace of mind that that junk you get rid of can not be recovered. Granted, with the right expert.... Best I've used. $30.


Bug Patrol

Ad-Aware

Oh, Ad-Aware, how do I love thee? This is anti-spyware at its free best. Those little bits pieces of data that track your information? Ad-Aware eats them for breakfast. It gives you a wonderful comfort level that no one is tracking your clicks. Tasty. Delicious. Free.

Malwarebytes

Site: "Malwarebytes has developed a variety of tools that can identify and remove malicious software from your computer. When your computer becomes infected, Malwarebytes can provide the needed assistance to remove the infection and restore the machine back to optimum performance." Tru dat. This one, too, has provided me with at least one Hail Mary save. Free.

a-squared

This one pulls a bit of a crossover into the anti-virus territory as well. From the site: "Scan your PC for infections of Trojans, Viruses, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Bots, Keyloggers and Dialers." I was lucky enough to pull the full version on a Giveaway of the Day and it saved my desktop's memory from a rather malicious worm. Robust and lovely. Free.


Anti-virus

AVG

I've been using this for a long time as well. Good as a sentry, good for scanning for viruses. It's not a commercial-grade system, but it does its job. Free.

Avira AntiVir

I haven't been using this for as long, but it works more actively as a sentry than AVG and I've had great success with it. Anti-virus, anti-rootkit, anti-dialer. Free.


Keepin' the Kids Under Wraps (I Mean Safe)

Monitoring software runs into the realm of parenting. As the father of a soon-to-be 13-year-old, there are basics you can provide to begin with. Don't let your child have unfettered access to a computer with internet access in their room. Ever. But not all parents can pull that off or already have let it go too far. Here are a couple options to pull back the reins a little and, yes, keep your child safe.

Bluecoat K9

K9 Web Protection is a "free Internet filtering and control solution for the home. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids." K9 blocks web pages and applications by category (chat, adult, etc.) with exceptions by URL so you can have total control over what your child or children access if you can not be over their shoulder. Quality program. Free.

Actual Keylogger

Actual Keylogger runs in the background, hidden by key combo/password, and records every key hit on the computer as well as relevant applications/sites. If your child is a misspeller, it can be painful to view the logs. And every program above will tag this program as malicious. Use at your own risk. Free.


Obviously, this is all opinion and subjective experience, even if it's all entirely correct. But I'm sure you've been using some great stuff too. What are your recommendations? What do you like to use? Good program suggestions through comments will be added to this post through updates.

Now get out there and protect yourself.

1 comment:

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