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New Year’s Resolution: Stop Paying for Antivirus Protection

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New Year’s Resolution: Stop Paying for Antivirus Protection

    It’s not hard to understand Windows users, myself included, still run paid subscription antivirus (AV) software (i.e. Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro, etc.) that can cost from $40 to upwards of $80 per year for a security suite. Until recently, when it came to computer protection I, like many of you, took on the old adage you get what you pay for. Two years ago I’d still stand by that; although two years of steady progression has proven that phrase doesn’t apply here anymore.

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    Microsoft to the rescue?

    So what new open source security suite has freed us from McAfee’s bondage? Actually, this time it isn’t open source. Believe it or not it’s actually Microsoft who’s stepped up on this one; with their free antivirus program, Windows Security Essentials. Security Essentials has been available for a couple of years, but in the beginning it was terribly buggy and unreliable. Yet, since that time, Security Essentials has seemingly hit its stride.

    If it’s been steadily progressing, why is the first time I have posted anything about it? To tell the truth, it has taken me nearly 2 years to warm up to it. My initial opinion of SE back in 2009 was,

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    Microsoft’s offering, what they’re claiming is, a legit security suite? Umm…yeah…right…and it’s free?! You must be huffing paint! Microsoft isn’t capable of producing both a free and a legit product, so this has to be complete crap. If they didn’t offer that retarded iPod they called a Zune for free, the thought of a free – and legit – AV solution from Microsoft is just plain nutty!” 

    Let’s face it, quality AVs, and/or any other security suite that’s offered for free by Microsoft was a pretty far-fetched concept. Until they showed me proof, I wasn’t biting. Now, as we head into 2012, Microsoft has proven itself to be a legit AV contender (not to mention a nightmare to McAfee and its bloated cousin Norton). Unlike the bloated paid subscription AVs, Windows Security Essentials is extremely lightweight, easy to install, and even easier to use.

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    It takes about a minute from the time you launch the install file until you’re literally scanning your system. It runs silently in the background, giving you the ability to continue working on your PC while Security Essentials is scanning. That is something I would always try and avoid when I ran McAfee, because everything became very sluggish if I tried to work on my PC while McAfee was scanning. I wouldn’t even attempt working on a PC while Norton was lumbering along with its, bovine like agility, scanning for the viruses it, most likely, put on the system to begin with!

    Still not without flaws

    If Security Essentials’s greatest strength, besides being free and very light, is its ability to run quietly in the background without disrupting what’s going on in the foreground, then its weakness would be its lengthy full system scan time. Security Essentials’s full system scans take a bit longer to complete than some of the AVs I’ve seen. Although, when you hardly even know its running and can continue working, it’s not that big of a deal. Plus, I have heard tales that this “weakness” will be remedied in the newly released beta version of Security Essentials. I am hearing a 20% speed increase in scan time.

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    The appearance of the beta version and the current version are virtually the same, although the site lists several functionality improvements; such as, automatic malware remediation, new protection engine, and many performance tweaks. Besides it’s the functionality that protects your PC from an infection, not its stunning good looks. I’m not nearly as concerned with Security Essentials’s appearance as I am its functionality. This isn’t exactly a beauty contest; computer infections are nasty and sometimes require getting some dirt on you.

    So, what is your AV setup and are you planning to download and install Security Essentials? Tell us your thoughts about Security Essentials or any other anti-virus software in the comments section.

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    (Photo Credit: Stylized computer virus via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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    How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

    There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

    Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

      What Does Private Browsing Do?

      When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

      For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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      The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

      The Terminal Archive

      While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

      Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

      dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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      Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

      Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

      However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

      Clearing Your Tracks

      Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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      dscacheutil -flushcache

      As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

      Other Browsers and Private Browsing

      Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

      If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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      As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

      Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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