Ben On WYPR Talking About Computer Repair Options

We were once again on NPR affiliate stations WYPR and WYPF for Mario’s Digital Cafe, discussing computer repair options. Some people are going to take us to task for recommending Zone Alarm, but it is a pretty good option, when the virus scanner is turned on, especially for a beginning to intermediate user.

Really though, people should use a suite of firewall, anti-viral, and anti-spyware solutions. We recently added NOD32 to our arsenal, supplanting ZoneAlarm’s anti-viral.

Mainly, though, we talk about computer repair, and how often times big box retailers outsource to local tech places, so why not cut out the middleman? — BEN POPKEN

The Geek Squad Inside Scoop [Mario’s Digital Cafe]


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  1. RumorsDaily says:

    I stopped using ZoneAlarm a few years ago when something go corrupted and it would no longer allow me to access ANY webpages and uninstalling did not remove the problem. Never giving them another chance, the screw up was too dramatic.

    I’ve come to a new philosophy of no protection. No firewalls, no antivirus, no spyware protection… nothing. I’ve been going that way for two years now and I haven’t had any problems. It’s liberating, like running through the sprinklers naked.

    I do keep my OS updated and patched, but that’s it. I’m all alone out there. It’s great!

  2. superlayne says:

    @Ingen Angiven: Maybe I’m just a bit of a control freak, but that almost sounds as scary as drinking raw milk.

    Norton works pretty well. It won’t tackle everything, but most of it.

  3. Chongo says:

    The only winning move is not to play…

    oh wait, thats WOPR

  4. viriiman says:

    Another firewall to suggest is one called “Comodo”. The firewall is free, as does just a good of a job as the free Zone Alarm.

    I swore by Zone Alarm, as did my best friend. One day, after updating ZA, randomly started blue screening. Nothing other then uninstalling the software completely fixed the issue. After that he started running Comodo, and has been fine since.

  5. Mr. Gunn says:

    ZoneAlarm isn’t a bad piece of software, but the hardware firewalls that are built into routers these days makes it kinda obsolete, except for laptops and dial-up users.

  6. viriiman says:

    @Ingen Angiven: If you’re a user with a brain, you can do this no problem. The issue is people like my parents. My Dad got an iBook for christmas which he loves. When I went over to the house the one day, I noticed an .exe file on his desktop. In asking him how it got there, he had no idea.

    I can only imagine the trouble he’d get into if he had a PC, with various sites telling him he needs to install some plugin to visit jo’shomepage .com and dumping tons of spyware on the machine. (Please don’t take this as a “mac is better” post, this is just my .002 on the issue)

    Hell, my own family members can’t all keep their PC’s virus free, no matter how many times you lecture them. Then again, when you’re 17 you know everything…

  7. viriiman says:

    @Mr. Gunn: You are 99% correct. The only real protection a software firewall offers a desktop user is that they might have the chance to keep the program from connecting to the internet to do it’s dirty work if they actually pay attention to the boxes that pop-up. However, with Vista, I get the feeling that more and more people are going to automatically “ok” those boxes every time.

    “You are coming to a sad realization, cancel or allow?” :-P

  8. rugger_can says:

    Nod32 is ineffective. The best program Ive found for anti virus and Anti-malware is avast! Its very effective.

  9. consumed says:

    @Ingen: You aren’t alone out there! I feel the same way. I actually feel less secure with a bunch of CPU and resource hogging software firewalls and virus scanners running. My only barrier to the outside world is a Linksys router with UPNP turned off. A simple NAT is enough protection for me. Instead of users letting malware take over their PC, they’re letting virus scanners run rampant. I’ve helped so many friends speed up their computers simply by getting rid of all the Norton crap that comes preinstalled at the factory these days. They always talk about needing to buy a new computer when the one they have is fast enough, just overwhelmed by all the Norton junk running in the background. There are far better options that are free and don’t require yearly subscriptions. People always thank me after I’m done doing a thorough sweep of cleaning all the clutter off their machines, installing all the patches, and using the built-in Windows firewall. And when using an on-demand virus scanner when they feel the need to download warez.

  10. John Stracke says:

    @Ingen Angiven: If your machine is running Windows, then I can pretty much guarantee you it’s been hijacked by now. On average, it takes just 20 minutes for an unprotected Windows machine to be compromised; usually, it’s enlisted into a botnet, and used to commit crimes.

  11. MeOhMy says:

    Honestly? PCs are not like cars. In the old days before magical plug and play OSes (that actually work most of the time), sure it was a little tougher. But these days your computer has probably 10 pieces inside it (if that)and they are keyed so that it’s pretty hard to install them incorrectly. Even the “drastic” measure of reinstalling the OS is fairly simple these days.

    The only reason you should ever get someone else to fix your PC is because you simply don’t want to take the time to do it yourself. And that’s OK.

  12. faust1200 says:

    I’ve found ZA and Norton to be a bit bloaty and quirky. I don’t run a software firewall but when I did I think Sygate Personal Firewall worked very well and it’s free. For antivirus I like AVG, also free. Antispyware-I like Adaware and Spybot S&S also free. But it mostly comes down to what you like and what makes you -feel- safe.

  13. AcidReign says:

    …..Back in the days of dial-up, Win98 and Internet Explorer, Zone Alarm really helped me get control of my system away from the bad guys! Click up a porn site, and very quickly a half dozen weird apps you’ve never heard of want to access the internet. It was an eye-opener!

    …..In the broadband era, with a router and hardware firewall, not to mention Firefox, I’ve yet to contract anything more than “tracking cookies.” Zone Alarm has a definite performance hit, both on your system, AND on your bandwidth/throughput. I’ve scaled back to only using windows firewall, AVG anti-virus, and monthly scans of Spybot and Adaware. With the above setup, clicking bad email attachments is the likeliest means of getting infected!

  14. kakashisan says:

    @John Stracke:

    I think that statistic was for XP SP1 machines that weren’t protected. XP SP2 should last a few minutes longer. :)


    I’m a fan of avast! as well. I actually prefer it to Symantec Coporate. Anything named “_______ Internet Security” is a load of crap. I’ve had both Norton and McAfee take over different laptops so the user couldn’t surf the web or browse to a network drive. Those programs are pure bloat-ware.

  15. orielbean says:

    If you fully patch your XP SP2, that is a really good first step. I also use Norton for anti-virii, but rely on my hardware router for its built-in firewall. I am very savvy though. Most of my older family members just click on stuff and have problems consistently, so I have zone alarm and norton on their system in addition to running anti-spyware programs while they sleep.

    And they definitely get a lot of junk on there in a week’s time – the action logs confirm it. Don’t freeball this one; going commando out in the Wild Wild Web is bad news indeed. Most of the hijackers won’t show up easily and a botnet is an ugly thing for bandwidth and the crimes committed.