Snopes reports that a new mass-mailing worm tells users that they have visited “illegal websites”. This reminded me that it’s time for my regular end-of-term anti-virus spiel.The winter holidays are that special time of year when hard drives “crash” and no one has a recent backup of that final paper or project. Faculty are as guilty of this sin as students, to be honest.
If you are working on a final project and need a quick, free way of backing up the files, open a free Gmail account and mail the files to yourself. if you lose the file on your local computer, you can retrieve the copies you sent to your Gmail account. Gmail provides users with 2.5 GB of disk space, and accepts 10 MB attachments that would choke other mail servers.
I don’t understand why HPU students continue to use Pipeline mail, when it’s so easy to open the Pipeline Mail options and auto-forward every message to their Gmail account.
If you need a good, free anti-virus program for your Windows computer, try Avast. This is what I have used on my home computer for most of 2005, and I like it. Do the free registration and your copy of Avast will automatically update itself with new virus signatures.
Another free anti-virus product is available at FreeAV. I sued to recommend this package, but its update system is a bit clunkier than the Avast implementation .
I’ve been using the beta version of Windows OneCare on my TabletPC since October. This will be a subscription service that offers an anti-virus solution, software firewall that works in both directions, and a data backup utility.
So far, my only complaint is that the program tends to start very slowly when it finds no available network connection at system startup. Occasionally the software firewall gets overzealous and doesn’t notify me that it has blocked a program. But the configuration is relatively easy to change.
The beta appears to be a good free solution. OneCare does its automatic virus and firewall updates quickly, which is a boon. Every two weeks, OneCare prompts me to connect my external hard drive for an automatic data backup. The backup feature also works with optical drives. However, it won’t completely restore your computer from bare metal. If you need that feature, try Norton Ghost.
OneCare is a blatantly obvious attempt at creating a subscription-based revenue stream for SOHO Windows users. For someone who owns one or two computers at home, OneCare should be an easy value-add decision 30 days after a new computer purchase.
If there’s a decent academic discount for a OneCare account with multiple computers, it would be a worthwhile deal. Frankly, I wish Microsoft would make OneCare totally free for university faculty and students when the program goes live next year.
I’ve used my own home backup and firewall systems for years, but that’s a tale for another day.