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30+ Free Security, Encryption, Firewall and Antivirus Apps for Windows

30+ Free Security, Encryption, Firewall and Antivirus Apps for Windows

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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