Why you can trust (some) Free Software

Why you can trust (some) Free Software

By Jeandre de Beer / Pc World


Question : Is it safe to use free software? What do the software authors get out of it?

Answer :   It’s good to be skeptical—and careful. Free products often come with strings attached.

But if you pay attention and listen for the right recommendations, you can get some excellent software for free.

There are some perfectly good reasons why an individual programmer, a programming collective, or even a for-profit company would let you use the fruit of its labor without getting paid.

The free version of a program is often a marketing tool for the paid version


The company gives away a stripped-down version of its product, which can build word of mouth that helps sell the paid “Pro” version. That Pro version will have features the free one lacks—features that many users can do without but others need.

For instance, only the paid version of EaseUS Todo Backup can password-protect your backups. And the free version generally comes without tech support. Also, many companies offer the free versions only for home use.

Businesses have to buy the Pro version. Free software can also produce income through advertising. However, this “advertising” can cross the line to become more like malware.

The worst such advertising caches itself within the installation routine. If you don’t take care when you walk through the installation wizard, you’ll install two or three programs you don’t want in addition to the one you do.

Many people regard these potentially unwanted programs, or PUPs, as malware.


The trick to avoiding PUPs is simple :

Read more

7 Easy tips to extend your PC’s life span

7 Easy tips to extend your PC’s life span

By Jeandre de Beer / Pc World

MOST MODERN PROGRAMS can run just fine on PCs that are several years old. And thanks to the rise of cloud services, older PCs are even less of a drag on productivity these days. 

Extending the useful life of your computer doesn’t have to involve expensive upgrades. Keeping your system physically clean following some basic preventive measures, and exercising common sense can add years of life to your machine.


1. Keep your PC sparkling

Virtually every computer becomes laden with dust, dirt, hairballs, and other junk given enough time.

The grime can suffocate the hardware inside your PC, generating heat and putting stress on the components—which in turn can reduce performance and even contribute to a component’s premature death. Clean your computer thoroughly every 6 to 12 months. 


2. Give your PC room to breathe


Read more

Keep your neighbors from hijacking your Wi-Fi

Keep your neighbours from hijacking your Wi-Fi

By Jeandre de Beer / Pc World

Question : ROSE SAYS that her Internet service intermittently  slows to a crawl, and that she wants to take steps to make sure that her neighbors haven’t hacked into her Wi-Fi network for free connectivity.

Answer : A NUMBER OF issues can produce intermittently slow Internet access, and most of them don’t involve foul play. You could have faulty cables, a bad modem or router, or outdated firmware on either of those devices.

The problem may be with your ISP, and therefore out of your hands. 

As much as we would like to think otherwise, however, your problem very well could be with a dishonest neighbour.



And in these days of data caps, such sneaky neighbors could be running up your Internet service bill as they’re slowing down your network’s connection.

I’m assuming that you've password-protected your Wi-Fi network already. If you haven’t, check your router’s documentation and do so immediately.

Even with a password, nothing is ever completely secure, and Wi-Fi networks can be cracked. You need to take extra precautions.

So how can you keep your neighbours from hijacking your Wi-Fi?


Start with a strong password

Read more

Rescue your PC from ransomware

Rescue your PC from Ransomware

By Jeandre de Beer / Pc World

With the nasty CryptoLocker malware making the rounds lately— encrypting victims’ files, and refusing to unlock them unless victims pay $300 via Bitcoin or a prepaid cash voucher—ransomware is in the spotlight.

You can remove many kinds of ransomware without losing your files, but the process differs depending on the type of invader. 

The simplest type, sometimes called scareware, consists of bogus antivirus or clean-up tools that claim they’ve detected umpteen issues, and demand that you pay to fix them.

Some specimens may bombard you with alerts and pop-ups, while others might prevent you from running programs.

In contrast, lock-screen viruses don’t allow you to use your computer, and display a full-size window—usually with an FBI or Department of Justice logo—saying that you violated the law and that you must pay a fine.

Finally, encrypting malware, such as CryptoLocker, is the worst variant, because it encrypts and locks your personal files until you pay up. But even if you haven’t backed up your files, you may still have a chance to recover your data.

How can you rescue your PC from Ransomware?

1.  Removing ransomware


If you have a fake antivirus program or a bogus clean-up tool, you can usually remove it by following my general malware removal guide. The procedure includes entering Windows’ Safe Mode and running an on-demand virus scanner such as Malwarebytes. 

If the ransomware prevents you from entering Windows or running programs, try to use System Restore to roll Windows’ system files and your applications back in time.

Doing so doesn’t affect your personal files. (System Restore must be enabled beforehand; Windows enables the feature by default.) To try System Restore, first shut down your PC.

Turn the computer on, and as soon as you see anything on the screen, press the <F8> key repeatedly. This action should bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu; select Repair Your Computer and press <Enter>. You’ll likely have to log on as a user. You’ll then find shortcuts to a few tools; click System Restore

If you don’t see Repair Your Computer, use your Windows disc (if you have that) to access the recovery tools. Click Repair your computer on the main menu before proceeding with installation.

Alternatively, create a Windows System Repair Disc on another PC running the same Windows version, and then boot to that disc on the infected PC to reach the recovery tools. 

If you still can’t get into Windows, try an “offline virus scan,” in which you run a virus scanner from a bootable disc or USB drive. 

My favorite bootable scanner is from Bitdefender, but other major vendors also offer antivirus boot-disk software. Your last resort, if the above methods fail, is to perform a factory restore. Most ransomware isn’t that tenacious, however.


2.  Recovering hidden files and encrypted data


Read more

Have you changed this essential setting for your Anti-Virus Software?

Have you changed this essential setting for your Anti-Virus Software?

By Jeandre de Beer / Kim Komando

av 1

Your anti-virus software is great for blocking serious attacks against your system. However, it doesn’t always catch programs that cause “minor” annoyances.

I’m talking about the “potentially unwanted programs” or PUP that are everywhere online.

They’re built by enterprising programmers who have figured out that there’s more money in staying under the radar of every major security company.

If you’ve ever had to deal with pop-ups, unwanted toolbars, or had your homepage redirected to an unfamiliar website, that’s the work of a PUP (potentially unwanted program).

While most anti-virus programs will protect you from PUPs for free, the option isn’t always turned on.


Make sure that your anti-virus understands that you don’t want any potentially unwanted programs on your PC. I’ll cover the settings for Avast, AVG and Kaspersky. McAfee has full protection turned on by default.

Note: Norton doesn’t currently find and remove PUPs, but Symantec plans to add that it in the future. When it does, it will be turned on by default.




Read more

Must I upgrade to Windows 8?

Must I upgrade to Windows 8?  6 Points to consider

By Jeandre de Beer

win 8

Windows 8 has been released for a while now and many people wonder if it is worth it to upgrade their operating system to Windows 8.

As with any new operating system there are some who love it and some who cannot stand it.

Windows 8 is a rapid change from previous operating systems. Some of the most popular and familiar user interfaces have been changed.

One of the biggest changes are the removal of the start button.

Most of us made extensive use of the start button in previous Windows versions. In Windows 8 it’s missing – and if you hit the windows button on your keyboard it takes you to a screen full of tiles with various confusing options.

Should I upgrade to Windows 8? Here are 6 points to consider


1.  Hardware Requirements


Make sure that your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements to install Windows 8.

The easiest way to check is to run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistance utility available for download from Microsoft’s website.

The minimum requirements that this utility checks for are indeed a minimum.

In practice, you need a faster CPU, more RAM, a larger hard drive and a more powerful graphics card to help make the Windows 8 experience something better than just good enough.


2.  Do not upgrade to Windows 8 if you do not like Windows 7


Read more