Top Story

Clean-install Windows 7 from the upgrade disc

Topping the long list of readers’ Windows 7 questions is whether you can use the upgrade disc to perform a clean-install of the new OS.

You may be surprised to discover that in Windows 7 there’s no difference between the “upgrade” and “full” DVDs and — just as with XP and Vista — the cheaper upgrade version can indeed be used to perform a clean-install.

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Find safe-browser technologies that really work

The major browsers and security programs all tout their ability to warn you about malware sites before you visit them, but do any of these early-warning systems really work?

Experts say they’re all useful, but none provides a silver bullet — and any browser-security product’s claims of superiority are extremely difficult to verify.

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The pros and cons of switching to Windows 7

If you’re still sitting on the fence about upgrading to Windows 7 — after all, it’s been widely available for all of a few hours now — I’d like to regale you with my top eight reasons to jump in with both feet.

I’ll also tell you three possible reasons for keeping the new OS on the shelf — for a while, at least.

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Press delete: the risk of outsourcing your data

A recent failure affecting T-Mobile’s Sidekick service caused thousands of customers to lose their personal contact information.

There’s nothing new about servers crashing, and something like this is sure to happen again, so you need to protect yourself against such losses in the future.

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Sponsored search results lead to malware

The ads served by Bing and Google along with your search results are linking more and more often to sites trying to infect your machine.

Neither Bing nor Google effectively prescreens these bogus advertisers, so it’s up to us to detect and avoid them.

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Get your system ready for a Windows 7 upgrade

Removing unneeded applications and making sure your hardware devices will work with Windows 7 are good things to do before you purchase and install the new operating system.

A merciless approach — ruthlessly excising software clutter prior to the OS upgrade — will help ensure that the process goes smoothly.

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More tricks to evade keyloggers on public PCs

Dozens of readers responded to my
Sept. 10 Top Story,
many of them proposing alternative ways to evade keyloggers other than the “revised Vesik method” I described.

No method can make you completely safe when using a public computer, so you must balance convenience with the level of risk that’s acceptable to you.

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Control ill-behaved apps with DEP in IE

Internet Explorer 8 includes a security feature that shuts down misbehaving applications before they can harm your system.

This capability, known as Data Execution Prevention (DEP), runs by default when IE 8 is installed on XP SP3 and Vista SP1 or later, but it may not always be clear to you why DEP has put the brakes on one of your PC’s applications.

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Prevent keyloggers from grabbing your passwords

Strong passwords are important, but even the best password won’t keep you safe from keyloggers — hardware and software that’s designed to secretly record your keystrokes.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can enter sensitive data so it’s extremely difficult for snoops to extract your passwords from keylogger files.

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Security Baseline provides basic PC protection

The Windows Secrets Security Baseline describes products and services that serve as a minimum safe PC configuration.

This week, I’m updating the latest findings on a set of hardware and software that should meet the needs of individual PC users, though more-advanced users and large businesses may want a more-sophisticated approach to computer defense.

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