I was with a client this week whose computer – a new-ish one running Windows XP – was running really, really slowly. I ran a full scan of her virus guard which did pick up one virus but this made only marginal difference to the speed of the machine. Then I ran a programme that looks for other nasties like spyware and such things…

It came up with 384 nasties! Fortunately, the software also got rid of them. But that’s not all.

To stop too many more of these nasties getting onto this computer I loaded a software firewall. These stop anything connecting to the internet from computer which you don’t want to and stops anything gaining access to your computer. Within the first 10 minutes of being up and running it had stopped half a dozen attempts to get access to the computer. Scary or what? Once all of this was done the computer was back up to speed AND safer from intruders.

So if you are savvy about these things, take this as a reminder to make sure your protection is up-to-date. And if you aren’t protected please think about getting some protection.

The first programme I used is called Adaware from LavaSoft and you can download it for free for home use from www.download.com. The firewall is ZoneAlarm and can also be downloaded for free from www.download.com.

Adaware is 2 and half megabytes and ZoneAlarm is over 5 and half, so with a broadband connection there’s no excuse. However I carry copies around with me to share with clients who have a dial-up connection. Very handy.