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  1. #1
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    LANGALIST PLUS

    MS Security Essentials: right-sized protection?


    By Fred Langa

    Are you tired of bloated, multi-megabyte security suites that slow your system down and are packed with features you don't use or require?

    Maybe Microsoft's small, sharply focused security tool is all you really need — and you can get it without having to spend a nickel.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/02/04/04 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-20 at 15:04.

  2. #2
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    Just wanted to recommend a third search option for when you know the name of the file, but not where it is.
    Everything from VoidTools provides a near instant way to locate files across multiple hard discs and partitions and supports advance search options like regex.
    I use it regularly at home (Win 7 x64) and on our file servers (Win 2008 x64) at work to assist staff who have misplaced a file and do not know where it is located.

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    Using ancient browsers

    I'm sure Fred's right when he says that there's no reason to expect that FAFSA would deliberately attack your system and that therefore using an outdated version of IE or Firefox is a small threat. Unfortunately, it's not so simple. If FAFSA have security vulnerabilities in their web site (an all too common event on both government and private sector systems), then an attacker could infect their web pages with malware (e.g. a keylogger) that can be downloaded invisibly if you simply view the page. This latter step is much easier to achieve if you're using an outdated browser. If the owner of a web site can't keep it up-to-date to allow support for modern browsers, I tend to be suspicious that it may not be very secure and I would avoid it (where possible, for government sites we may have very little choice)!

    Back on the main topic of Fred's column, I'm a freelance security consultant and I'm using Microsoft Security Essentials on my home systems. Although no individual product can provide 100% protection, I'm pleased with the small footprint and ease of use - I would recommend it to my friends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Rudd View Post
    Just wanted to recommend a third search option for when you know the name of the file, but not where it is.
    Everything from VoidTools provides a near instant way to locate files across multiple hard discs and partitions and supports advance search options like regex.
    I use it regularly at home (Win 7 x64) and on our file servers (Win 2008 x64) at work to assist staff who have misplaced a file and do not know where it is located.
    Yeah, I want to recommend Everything too!
    You don't need to know the full the filename, just type a part of the filename, and you're off!
    And it's fast, very, very fast.

  5. #5
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    On the issue of desktop search apps, I've been using the free Copernic Desktop Search for many years, and I still prefer it to either the Google or Windows versions (both of which I've tried periodically). As with other desktop search apps, the initial indexing may take quite a long time, depending on the amount of data on the hard disk. But, once the index is built, it's very quick. You can perform a search in My Documents, Favorites, e-mails or a number of other categories. The search results provide a section that shows the folders and files that contain the word or phrase. Clicking on a file in the upper section opens the file (.doc, .pdf, .xls, etc.) with the word or phrase highlighted throughout the file.

    As Fred suggested, if I know pretty much where the word or phrase is located, I still use the built-in Windows Search function.

  6. #6
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    Agree with Copernic Desktop Search, free for home users.

    http://www.copernic.com/en/products/...ome/index.html

    Been using this for a few years with great results. Call me paranoid but I don't fully trust Google. Not since it was disclosed how much personal info they store and how willingly they give it out. Google has something called a Web History feature. For a while Google enabled this by default for new accounts. It’s possible a user missed the notice when creating accounts for Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Analytics, to name a few. In a nutshell Google Web History remembers where you’ve been on the web when you’re logged into your Google account. It grabs the URL of pages you’ve visited along with a timestamp. It also records your Google searches. This article gives a lot more info about Google Web History as well as the steps you need to take to view any history that might be stored and how to erase it.

    http://www.timeatlas.com/Reviews/Rev...ersonal_Choice

    I just don't feel comfortable giving Google access to even more personal info stored on my hard drive when they already have their own history of storing and divulging web search data. As I said, it's perfectly OK if you want to call me paranoid.

    Mary

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    Everything, yes! I totally agree in recommending it. I never bothered to figure out how to get Vista and Win7 to search beyond the defaults (which seem to be My Documents, etc., which I never used). Everything, on the other hand, goes everywhere. I also really like how it can work as a portable app. It scans my all my hard drives in - I don't know - about 30 seconds, then finds **everything** just about instantaneously. Amazing.
    Limitations -- Wouldn't it be fabulous if it could search for file contents as well as filenames? I believe it does NOT search network drives.

    Quote Originally Posted by James Rudd View Post
    Just wanted to recommend a third search option for when you know the name of the file, but not where it is.
    Everything from VoidTools provides a near instant way to locate files across multiple hard discs and partitions and supports advance search options like regex.
    I use it regularly at home (Win 7 x64) and on our file servers (Win 2008 x64) at work to assist staff who have misplaced a file and do not know where it is located.

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    Back to the issue of Microsoft Security Essentials - I find it to be a good program (so far), but the lack of outbound virus screening in Windows Firewall was concerning (not everybody agrees on this point, most notably Microsoft). So, when I installed MSE on a Vista laptop, I left the ZoneAlarm Firewall in place - BIG mistake!! Apparently (and I believe this only applies to Vista), there's a conflict, such that the OS won't fully load. After spending all nite turning various services & processes on & off, I was able to localize the problem to ZA (I later found the problem described elsewhere online). Booting into safe mode, uninstalling ZA and activating Windows Firewall solved the problem. Just thought you ought to know. Please forward to Fred.

    Bill Zigrang

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    When you really need a powerful file search, Agent Ransack is still the best for me. DOS-style or regexp searches on both filenames and contents, multiple directory or drive searches, etc. I use it several times a week to find examples of code, for instance. Free, with a more modern paid version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Rudd View Post
    Just wanted to recommend a third search option for when you know the name of the file, but not where it is.
    Everything from VoidTools provides a near instant way to locate files across multiple hard discs and partitions and supports advance search options like regex.
    I use it regularly at home (Win 7 x64) and on our file servers (Win 2008 x64) at work to assist staff who have misplaced a file and do not know where it is located.
    I agree Everything is fast and unless I need to search inside of file Everything is great. XP and WIndows7 compatible.

  11. #11
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    "User preference matters, too: some prefer "friendly" software requiring minimal user involvement, while others want to customize their apps to the last byte."

    Somewhere in the middle would be nice!

    I also migrated from the payed ver of AVG, and while I'm happy with the performance of MSE so far (I think), I find the UI and logging to be on the lite side. I would at least like to be able to look at a log and see that the app has run when scheduled. Unless I'm missing something here, you can't even do that. I guess that's the trade off between bloated vs lean and mean!
    Mike

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Zigrang View Post
    Back to the issue of Microsoft Security Essentials - I find it to be a good program (so far), but the lack of outbound virus screening in Windows Firewall was concerning (not everybody agrees on this point, most notably Microsoft). So, when I installed MSE on a Vista laptop, I left the ZoneAlarm Firewall in place - BIG mistake!! Apparently (and I believe this only applies to Vista), there's a conflict, such that the OS won't fully load. After spending all nite turning various services & processes on & off, I was able to localize the problem to ZA (I later found the problem described elsewhere online). Booting into safe mode, uninstalling ZA and activating Windows Firewall solved the problem. Just thought you ought to know. Please forward to Fred.

    Bill Zigrang
    I don't know where you got the idea that Windows Vista and Windows 7 do not have outbound firewall protections. There is an outbound component in these versions of Windows Firewall. But getting to and changing the controls for the outbound Windows Firewall is very daunting. That is why many users prefer the free version of the Sphinx Software controls for the outbound Windows Vista/Windows 7 Firewall. Get Sphinx here:
    http://www.sphinx-soft.com/Vista/order.html

    The 64-bit "Plus" version is unfortunately not free.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    One thing which has been noted by several reviewers is the lack of "Zero-Day" or predictive heuristics protections in MSE. To supplement for this lack, many users find the addition of PC Tools (free) Threatfire to be useful and fully compatible with MSE. Both MSE and Threatfire can provide native 64-bit protection to 64-bit Windows, as well as normal 32-bit protections to 32-bit systems. Something to consider, as "64-bit" AVG is currently a hybrid 32/64-bit security program. Also note, AVG Free provides no rootkit detection or removal features. That is why I upgraded a few years ago, before converting to Avast Free.

    (Avast needs an additional firewall, but for Vista or Windows 7, the built-in firewall with Sphinx Controls (free for 32-bit, but costs money for 64-bit Windows) is all that is needed. Sphinx controls is easier to use than the byzantine maze of native Windows outbound firewall controls for many users. )
    -- Bob Primak --

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    FileLocatorPro

    • Unbelievably Fast
    • Way faster than Windows Search
    • No indexing
    • Great right-click options from the found files list (open folder, etc.)
    • File searcher, not content searcher - does not search inside files
    • Works on Windows 7 64-bit (or 32-bit)
    • Seriously FAST
    • There's a free version


    When I just want to file a file really fast, FileLocatorPro is it. It will often finish before Windows Search lists its first file. However, it is not searching file contents - for that, I use Windows Search.

    A good strategy: With Windows, index only files that you might want to search inside of (ie, documents). For everything else, where you will probably only want to find a file by name, use FileLocatorPro.

    FYI: I have no connection to this vendor in any way, period.

    http://www.mythicsoft.com/Page.aspx?...rpro&page=home

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    RE: MSE
    Its great that it runs silently, a big plus for non-techies. But, does it work well? Testing against malware is a big deal, but testing the hosts file is simple. I did this and MSE did not do well. See my blog

    Testing Microsoft Security Essentials and the Hosts file
    http://blogs.computerworld.com/14971...the_hosts_file

    I agree with earlier comment about supplementing MSE with ThreatFire, however a non-techie won't understand the prompts from ThreatFire. I think its only a good fit for techies.

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