It’s hard to maintain a secure, virus-free Windows set-up. The Internet is like a minefield, where a poorly protected computer can become infected by all sorts of virii or allow malicious individuals to tinker with your hard drive’s contents, or worse, your operating system itself.

Don’t waste any time getting your Windows computer secured. You don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars to do this — and if you have a computer that’s not secured already, you may be unaware that not all free software is malicious. In fact, free, open source software makes up a huge chunk of the software ecosystem today, Firefox being one prevalent example.

Which reminds me—if you’re using Internet Explorer, the first step is to grab Firefox, get rid of IE, and come back to this page in your new browser.

Security isn’t about blocking malicious actions, it’s about keeping your data safe. While much of that is about keeping virii or hackers out, it’s also about keeping backups so hardware failure, natural disasters or malicious attacks don’t destroy your primary copy for good.

1. TrueCrypt – free open source disk encryption that works in real-time.

2. GnuPG – a free open source alternative to PGP, the public key encryption software.

3. Steganos Locknote – allows you to encrypt your sensitive data such as bank account details and account passwords as Locknotes.

4. AntiVir is anti-virus software that features a resident background monitor and a manual hard drive scanner.

5. AVG Free features a resident background monitor, manual hard drive scanner, continuous email scanner, and the ability to repair files affected by virii.

6. avast! is a free anti-virus comparable to AVG, though it requires you register an account with the company in order to use the software.

7. ZoneAlarm Firewall is an effective stand-alone program including the firewall component of the larger commercial offering, ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite.

8. Filseclab Personal Firewall Professional Edition is another free personal firewall, albeit with a somewhat contradictory name.

9. Windows Privacy Tools is a collection of apps for digital encryption and content signing. Multilingual.

10. Online Armor Personal Firewall (Free Edition) is a free personal firewall alternative to Online Armor’s commercial applications.

11. Cryptainer LE is free 128-bit encryption software from Cypherix.

12. Comodo Firewall Pro is a free personal firewall with a built-in anti-virus scanner.

13. Adeona is a free open source application for tracking your stolen laptop.

14. RISING Antivirus is free anti-virus software with resident background monitoring and on-demand scanning.

15. WIPFW is a packet filtering and account firewall based on FreeBSD’s IPFW.

16. CryptoExpert 2008 Lite protects your data by creating files that serve as encrypted virtual disks.

17. Comodo doesn’t just offer a free firewall, it offers a free virus-squasher too.

18. PC Tools offers a free anti-virus application among its group of commercial programs.

19. E4M is a free, open source encryption application. While it’s no longer supported by the developer, it is still available for download.

20. SoftPerfect Personal Firewall is another free network firewall with user-defined rules for blocking or accepting incoming connections.

21. Darik’s Boot and Nuke is a boot disk that’ll allow you to securely erase your hard drives, ensuring nobody can recover your credit card details after they find your drive at the dump.

22. Secure Delete allows you to securely delete a file or folder (rather than your whole hard drive) by trashing your selection and then overwriting it with random data, making it unrecoverable.

23. Dubaron DiskImage is a hard drive backup and partition restore application.

24. Forensic Aquisition Utilities includes tools to perform a secure system wipe so that data becomes unrecoverable.

25. Jetico Personal Firewall is a free personal firewall that’s better than most other options if you have an older system, that is, earlier than Windows XP.

26. Eraser is a secure data eraser for all Windows operating systems and even DOS.

27. SelfImage allows you to make an exact copy of your hard drive in a disk image for later backup.

28. SDelete is a free secure delete application for the command line from Microsoft themselves.

29. SunbeIt Personal Firewall is the rebranded version of the very popular Kerio Personal Firewall (there’s a free and a commercial version).

30. Autoclave, while no longer supported by its developer, is still useful because it’s a secure disk wiper that you can run from a floppy disk.

Love this article?