First the Long Answer
Until July of last year I was totally obsessed with keeping my PC clean. By that I mean every month I would run a cleaning program, run at least 4 different Spyware programs, some registry cleaners, anti-virus, Windows Update, Disk Checker and so on. I also cranked my firewall up to max.
Initially, when I first ran Spybot and Ad-Aware, they each found around 500 pieces of spyware EACH! However once I had installed a firewall, they would turn up 10 max.
Now when I say Firewall, I don’t mean “Windows Firewall”, that piece of garbage, oh no. You need something stronger, something like Zone Alarm. If anything’s going to keep the nasties out of your machine, it’s Zone Alarm. It’s free, it works and it’s probably the best.
Next up let’s tackle Anti-Spyware. The 2 most popular ones have already been mentioned. They are Spybot and Ad-Aware, however there are others, mainly Windows Defender.
As for keeping your system clean, you can run the program that Microsoft supplies (found under “My Computer” – right click C – Properties). There is also CCleaner and my favorite Ace Utilities. Ace Utilities will remove Junk Files, clean the registry, fix invalid shortcuts, clean your browser’s history and much much more.
As far Anti-Virus goes, there are really only 2 options. AVG and Avast. Both are free and both work really well. However I feel that whilst Avast has more features and probably does a better job at protecting your pc, I felt it ultimately slowed down the computer itself and actually hampered performance. However even better is Housecall. This is made by Trend Micro and is completely web based. So there is no downloading and no cost.
You can actually get this all in one big package like Norton Internet Security. But I advise against it. Mainly because they are a complete resource hog and will probably make your computer slower and more sluggish. You’ll also be out of pocket.
Finally…do NOT disable automatic updates and remember to defrag regularly.
Now the Short answer
After all that, I finally decided I’d had enough. But I didn’t want my PC to get infected, so what did I do. I bought a MacBook. There’s a reason why download.com doesn’t return much when you search for anti-virus under Mac. It doesn’t need it.
So really if you don’t want the hassle that comes with a PC and you looking for a new computer, get yourself a Mac.
Zone Alarm – Firewall
Spyware Blaster – Sort of like a Firewall
Ace Utilities – Clean Up
Spybot – Anti-Spyware
Ad-Aware – Anti-Spyware
Windows Defender – Anti-Spyware
CWShredder – Removes any form of CoolWebSearch
Avast – Anti-Virus
AVG – Anti-Virus
Housecall – Anti-Virus