With so many potential threats on the Internet, it is an absolute necessity to prepare your computer for the Web. Whenever I get a new computer, the first programs I download include antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software. Frankly, if you don't have at least these three types of programs running on your computer, it's like driving at night without your lights on--sure it's possible, but don't be surprised if it ends in a crash (har har).
Fortunately, there are a lot of great security programs available at Download.com. Recently I've written Killer Downloads about both the best firewalls and the top antivirus programs. This week I'm doing a software roundup of a different type. In recent scouting of new (and new to me) software I came across some great Windows programs that work behind the scenes to keep your computer running smoothly and also keep your data secure.
What do I mean by behind the scenes? These programs let you go through an initial setup and from then on, protect and streamline your system in the background so you're always working safely and at peak efficiency.
Spyware Terminator is a recent discovery for me which includes all the antispyware features you need in a free package. As any good antispyware program should, it auto-updates so you know you have the latest spyware definitions. You can choose between fast and full system scans, or you can create a custom scan of frequently used files. I particularly like the real-time shield which keeps you protected from spyware while you surf the Web--an uncommon feature for free programs of this category. There's plenty of free and shareware antispyware software to choose from, but if you want a full-featured free app, this one is top notch.
SmartDefrag Beta is another new find for me, but I really like what I see. Defragmenting your hard drive is one of the best ways to cure a sluggish system. I've recommended Auslogics Disk Defrag in the past and I still think it's one of the best stand alone defragging programs. But what sets SmartDefrag apart from the rest is its ability to continually and automatically defrag your hard drive in the background. Using a small memory footprint, this app defrags in real-time, so you know your always running at top speed. You also have the ability to manually defrag like other utilities in this category.
DriveHQ Online Backup is the perfect backup program for those unavoidable system crashes which make you lose important data. Use this app to create an online folder for specific important files (you'll need to register first with an e-mail address and password). Once your backup folder is setup, you can set DriveHQ Online Backup to automatically backup data, even as you change it in real-time. This way, in the event of a system crash, you can always retrieve your latest work online once your up and running again. This program only offers 1GB of storage space for free (plenty for most written document folders), but a subscription service lets you add more space for a price.
If you're the type that likes programs you can setup and just forget about, check out these security and optimization apps. As always, if you have better app for the job please let me know in the comments!