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The best security for Windows XP is free!

I see computer users all the time spending a lot of money on products like Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, McAfee Personal Firewall and others. These software packages provide virus protection and firewall solutions for your personal computer. The first problem with these solutions is that they cost money!

If you are running Windows XP on your computer, then you already have a firewall built in. It has to be turned on, but if you have installed Service Pack 2, it will nag you until you do turn it on. To check on your Windows XP firewall, do this. Click on the start button, then on run. Now type ncpa.cpl and click ok. This opens your Network Connections window. From here, right click on your internet connection and click properties. Another window will open. Click on the Advanced tab. If you are not running Service Pack 2, then be sure the check box is checked at the top of this window and click ok. If you are running Service Pack 2, click the Settings button. This opens yet another screen where you can turn the firewall on and off. Be sure to click all the ok buttons when you are done.

As for antivirus software, Norton seems to be the most popular. They have an awesome marketing department because their product is not very good. There are many trojan horse viruses that Norton Antivirus does not detect. McAfee antivirus is much better, but they both have a similar problem. They are huge. They take forever to load when Windows starts up because they both end up starting six or seven different programs in the background. This is bad for start up time and overall performance. For a simple, light-weight and FREE anti-virus solution use AVG Antivirus. It is a great program and is offered free to home users. It only runs two processes and finds many viruses that Norton does not. To download AVG, go to http://www.sugarlandpc.com and click on Free Utilities.

If you happen to be running an older Windows operating system like Windows 98 or Windows ME, you can use the AVG Antivirus as well. Since you do not have a built in firewall, you can go to http://www.sugarlandpc.com and click on Free Utilities to download the free ZoneAlarm firewall from Zone Labs.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 2/1/2005

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