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Want to slash your PC security costs back to zero? According to a recent Consumer Reports article, you can! CR concluded most users can get ample protection simply by combining free stand-alone software programs. Here's how it works:

First, determine which security programs are already on your computer. For example, my laptop came with Vista's Windows Security Center, which includes Windows Defender and Windows Firewall. Defender provides protection against badware, which includes phishing tools and the much-dreaded spyware.

Second, assess the protection included with your Internet browser. You're probably using Explorer or Firefox and, increasingly, such programs come complete with fairly sophisticated security features. Good news: As those free features improve, your need for a separate fee-based PC security package declines!

Third, make up any shortfall with free software. Just be sure to stick with trusted names. Avira's free program, Avira Anti-Vir Personal, seems a safe choice for virus protection. If you need protection against spam, try Spamfighter. Just remember: Web email programs like Gmail or Hotmail already have spam control built-in.

Safety Tip: Unsure whether to trust a new software name? Go to to read reviews before bringing anything home to live in your PC.

So give the DIY security suite a try. I've saved $50 so far. After realizing almost all the protection I needed was already on my computer, I terminated my existing security package and downloaded Avira instead. The result: basic computer security for zero bucks down!


  • Sam

    Different people have their favorites. I use a combination of free software

    Avast! anti virus has been rated higher than avira and I've been using it and installed in on numerous computers for several years.

    For adware / spyware, get
    Spybot Search & Destroy. Its a scanner, remover and blocker. The blocker works by turning on the immunize function

    Spywareblaster runs in the back ground and stops cookies and spyware from being installed on your computer.

    Using spyware blaster and Spybot together poses no conflicts and drastically decreases junk on your computer. You have to update them manually if you use them for free. A small donation will open the autoupdate features.

    Last thing you'll need is a good firewall. If windows firewall is not strong enough for you (it's a fairly weak firewall), then go here and try one of the recommended products. Just be sure windows firewall is turned off if you use a 3rd party product.

    Also, NEVER, NEVER, install more than one antivirus product on your computer. More is NOT better in this case. I know some people that got away with it for a few months until an update made the programs incompatible and there system was barely useable until we got one of the programs pulled off. If you pick a firewall that includes antivirus protection, do not install avast antivirus. More than one antivirus program cause memory conflicts on a regular basis and can make your system unstable.

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