Firewalls for Windows PC’s

September 23, 2007

 A few years ago firewall products such as Zone Alarm were very popular, and rightly so, as they protected your computer from external attack. Then when Windows XP Service pack 2 was introduced the operating system included it’s own built in firewall, so everyone tended to forget about firewall products. However, hackers are getting more devious. More and more people are on broadband and leave their PC on all the time (just waiting to be attacked by a hacker who wants to empty your bank account).

 

We have been looking at some of the firewall products available and they have improved a lot in the last couple of years. Both “Comodo Firewall” and “Kerio Personal Firewall” are impressive products, far more sophisticated that the Windows XP built in firewall, and they offer a good level of protection. The best part is Comodo is totally free, and the Kerio product comes in both free and paid for versions (the free version looses some the the more advanced features after the initial 30 day trial).

You can download these programs below

Comodo: http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/

Kerio:  http://www.sunbelt-software.com/Kerio.cfm

Chris Moody
www.aslcomputerservices.co.uk
Specialists in Computer support for Small Businesses and
home PC users in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire

 

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File Recovery Program

September 23, 2007

 PC Inspector File Recovery 4 is a free utility that does an impressive job recovering accidentally deleted files or files lost through corruption of the file system. It has some nice features, like the ability to recover files with lost headers, and to recover partitions even when the boot sector has been lost or damaged. This is no home written utility – it is a serious product from a reputable German company with a long history in commercial data recovery.

You can download this program from:

 http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/uk/welcome.htm

Chris Moody
www.aslcomputerservices.co.uk


Creating PDF files

September 23, 2007

Ever wanted to create a pdf file from that word document, excel spreadsheet, or even a web page? Well now you can with PDFCreator. To create a PDF document you just “print” from any application to the PDFcreator dummy printer. This means you can create PDFs from Word, Excel or indeed any program that allows you to print.

 You can download this free application from:

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=57796&package_id=53473

Chris Moody
www.aslcomputerservices.co.uk

 


A couple of interesting IT questions and answers on Freshbusinessthinking.com

April 10, 2007

I receive a couple of newsletter style emails every month from www.freshbusinessthinking.com and one of them recently contained a “computer questions and answers” section.

 You can see the Questions and Answers on their website. The second and third questions were both very good questions and probably are relevant to the majority of small businesses. So it’s worth taking a look at these questions and the authors answers.

This got me thinking.  ASL Computer Services could run a monthly or weekly question and answer article on this blog.

How would it work? Small business owners send in their questions to me by email . I will then publish the first three received with an answer every month, or if it becomes popular every week. So let’s give it a try. Send us your IT questions by email and we will publish the first three received with answers (the questions will be published as Mr W from Daventry or Mrs T from Rugby to protect peoples identity).

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services


OpenOffice – An alternative to MS Office, and totally free

February 9, 2007

The Microsoft office suite has become the De Facto standard amongst PC users. Everyone expects documents to be in Word format, speadsheets in Excel, and presentations in Powerpoint. But, with every new release of MS Office the price has increased, making it a very expensive proposition for both small businesses and home PC users.

But now there is an alternative, OpenOffice.

  • Openoffice will read and write Word excel and powerpoint documents
  • It is easy to use
  • Download OpenOffice completely free of any licence fees
  • Install it on as many PCs as you like
  • Use it for any purpose private, educational, government and public administration, commercial…
  • Pass on copies free of charge to family, friends, students, employees, etc.

OpenOffice contains

Writer Writer – a word processor you can use for anything from writing a quick letter to producing an entire book.
Spreadsheet Calc – a powerful spreadsheet with all the tools you need to calculate, analyse, and present your data in numerical reports or sizzling graphics.
Presentation Impress – the fastest, most powerful way to create effective multimedia presentations.
Vector drawing tool Draw – lets you produce everything from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations.
Database Base – lets you manipulate databases seamlessly. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, all from within OpenOffice.org
Mathematical function creator Math – lets you create mathematical equations with a graphic user interface or by directly typing your formulas into the equation editor.

Why not give OpenOffice a try. It could save you a lot of money.

You can download it free from the Openoffice.org website

 Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services


The Problem of Viruses

January 28, 2007

With more and more PC’s being connected to the Internet on a permanent basis via broadband, and also networked together within your office or home the spread of viruses has become a major problem.

If you connect any PC without any protection to the Internet via broadband it can become infected with viruses within a matter of hours. Quite a scary thought.

A virus infected PC may cause you a number of problems:

  • It may infect your other PC’s in your office or home 
  • It can delete or corrupt your data and documents
  • It could damage Windows itself which may necessitate a repair or
    re-installation of the operating system 
  • Often viruses will search your PC for email addresses and then
    send itself to those people without your knowledge, thereby
    infecting your friends, customers, and suppliers machines with
    the same virus 
  • It may make your PC run slowly, which means every task you do takes longer


So how do you protect your PC?

  • Ensure you have a reputable Anti Virus program installed and that it has not expired
  • If your PC is for home use (not business) there are Anti virus programs available totally free of charge, so there is no reason to not be protected (Speak to whoever does your computer support about the free Anti Virus programs for home use)
  • Make sure your Anti Virus program is kept up to date with new virus definitions via the Internet.
  • It should be configured to monitor your PC in the background continually looking for virus infections
  • Scanning of all incoming and outgoing emails for virus infections should be enabled
    Perform regular scheduled scans of your hard disk drives at least once a week

So check your PC’s, both home and office, and make sure they are protected from viruses. Home PC users can download a Free Anti Virus program from the Grisoft AVG Free Edition website (for home use only).

For business use, or home PC users that want more features and greater levels of protection download and buy the AVG Professional Version.

 Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services


Dell Computers with Windows Vista

January 28, 2007

I have just noticed that Dell are now shipping PC’s with Windows Vista pre installed. I’ve included a link to their Home PC special offers page.

Chris


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