Email Bag

From: Julie Matson

Subject: Thank you

I just wanted to say I appreciate you keeping me (and the other HAL-PC users) up to date with information about viruses and the available security patches. I do not have the time to explore these issues on my own and have come to rely on the knowledge that if it's important, you'll let me know. I have also passed your warnings on to friends and suggested they look at using HAL-PC because of how good you are. I feel that I get much more value from my HAL-PC Internet service than any other provider I know of. I don't know of another ISP provider who proactively promotes computer health with the timely advice that you guys do. It's great. Thanks again.

From: "John Preston"
Subject: Registry Mechanic

When I downloaded Ad-aware from Lava Soft, I somehow also managed to get the Registry Mechanic that keeps insisting that I pay $19.95 to register. Since you did not mention this in your article ("Taking Out the Trashware, September 2003), wondered if you have any advice about this program-what does it do, and how helpful could it be toward ridding my computer of junk. Appreciate the recommendation and am using Ad-aware now. Thank you.

Editor: The Registry Mechanic is a different program unrelated to the freeware program, Ad-aware. It seems to be a limited trial version, and that explains why you're being nagged to register it. More information about it can be found at The trial version of this registry cleaner is limited to only repairing the first 6 sections.

It's certainly not a bad idea to use some type of reliable registry cleaner regularly to make your system more stable and help Windows and your software run faster. According to their website, Registry Mechanic uses a high-performance detection algorithm to identify missing and invalid references in your Windows registry. These problems can occur for many reasons including being left behind after the un-installation or incorrect removal of software, by missing or corrupt hardware drivers, or orphaned startup programs. Norton System Works also scans the Windows Registry for incorrect entries.

The free Spybot Search and Destroy actually finds a slightly different group of problems, so that it overlaps Ad-Aware in scope. I personally run both of them about once a month or whenever I notice a degradation in performance, and I set the One Button Checkup for Norton System Works to run weekly.

From: A HAL-PC Member
Subject: Takin' Out the Trashware

Per your article, I noticed that there are many programs that you can download. I wanted to let you know how my system is protected and I would like your opinion as to whether you think my system is adequately protected now. Here is how I am protected.

  • Norton Anti-Virus 2003 Professional Version
  • Ad Aware- 6.0
  • Ad Watch
  • TCP View
  • Zone Alarm Plus Firewall

Knowing my protection as of now, do you think it is necessary that I download: ''Trojan Scan", "Pest Scan" and "Parasiteware"?

Editor: You've selected the same software to protect your system as I would for my own PC, and I think you will be fine as long as your updates are current for all of the programs and you are careful not to open any strange unsolicited attachments. The TCP Watch is a very good choice because worms can travel through the network faster than antivirus program updates can be issued, so an increase in activity seen on a particular port (the Blast worm used port 135) is a good warning sign. A Mac user complained to me on the Saturday before the problem became widespread about unexplained increased port activity, and while the Mac users were not vulnerable to infection by this worm attack, they were affected by the port scanning. I feel that the on-line scanners fall short for total protection and rely on the user to go back to those sites to check again. Good programs like the ones you've selected are far better, because they can be configured to auto-update.