Best Value Antivirus and Internet Security

So, Windows 10 comes with it’s own built in security! Great, that means I don’t need any extra anti virus or internet security software – right?

I get asked this question a lot. My answer usually is that one should always make sure you are as protected as you can be. Yes, windows 10 does have good built in security, but the constant quest to keep your computer safe and out of the cyber criminals hands is and always has been a two horse race. Many people choose free security software and that is fine, but if you want better, consider these.


Eset Internet Security

Windows 10 will not complain if you install an internet security program, it will happily work with it, this brings me to my second point. I’m often asked which security programs I recommend, there are two in the ‘Paid for arena’. Eset and Sophos.

 

Over the 20 years that I have been repairing computers two things stand out. The first is that those people who have a good, paid for internet security package tend to have fewer problems. When I do a site visit and check the computer for malicious software I often find that there is none or what there is has little of no effect on the machine. The second thing I find is that these two programs, Eset and Sophos tend to be very robust and not break.

What I mean by this is that the programs themselves don’t go wrong. I have been on many house calls where other popular and what we call ‘bundled’ (came preinstalled with the computer) security software has actually malfunctioned for some reason, and gone unnoticed by the owner. This then often involves fully stripping out the existing, malfunctioning software and reinstalling it, then updating it. I have not even mentioned the bit where the computer owner may have forgotten their password for the online account area of their security software provider – we can deal with that too.

My other annoyance with other brands is the constant up-sell. All of the free ones do it which is fair enough but there are two in particular that are always trying to sell you the next level. Driver updates, VPN etc. From my experience a great many people have no idea what these things are anyway. So, save yourself the hastle and grab one of these Eset or Sophos. They just stay in the background doing their job. 

Sophos is a little different in that it incorporates an online control centre where one can log in and see the status of all computers covered under the account and carry out admin tasks.

Here is the heads up;

Sophos  provides cover for  Windows computers, laptops and Mac. A full licence will cover up to 10 machines –  mobile phones are  covered and it’s called ‘Sophos Intercept X’,  Android,  IOS –  you can find them in the app store.  Eset is much the same but on their website one can choose how many devices to cover, as you add devices the cost increases accordingly. I am not sure if the Sophos Intercept X would be a separate mobile subscription or not – I will try and find out.

I have been a customer of Sophos security for three years in a row now to protect my families computers. For my mobile phone I use Eset smart security purchased via the Play Store on the phone. I don’t have a preference over Eset for my phone or Sophos for the computers – that is just the way it happened. Sophos have given me a discounted annual renewal as a loyalty which is nice, I think last year was less than £40 for all the families computers, very good value in my opinion. My mobile Eset subscription is paid for via my Google account and is about £11.99 a year.

 

Lets have a deeper explore of the reasons you may not need a VPN. Tom Scott knows a thing or two about computer science and cyber security, his video is well worth watching while you drink your coffee.

Laptop buying guide

Laptop Buying Guide : Not from the point of view of gaming : May 2016

Please also see notes at the bottom.

There is so much to choose from when you find yourself looking to either buy your first laptop or simply replace what is worn out or broken. You can purchase a top of the range laptop such as a MacBook Pro or a top end Lenovo, Dell, Asus, HP or any of the many well known quality brands that sell top of the range models. These usually come complete with backlit keyboards and solid state or hybrid hard drives and the best in class Intel processors and, they will do just about everything you demand of them. All of these features come at a cost, upwards to £1000 and beyond but also, in some cases with the benefit of next day on-site business warranty options. Getting your hands on one is not always easy as they are not always in plentiful stock and often made to order by the manufacturer and then shipped to the UK from wherever in the world their factory is – you might wait a week or two.

Before I go on about the various options I will mention some very simple guidelines;

  • Always buy the best you can afford
  • For good productivity work a laptop with an Intel i5 or i7 processor is best £450+
  • As far as memory is concerned 8gb or more is good (See section on memory upgrades)
  • If you are on a tight budget consider the refurbished market. Refurb Dell Latitude, Lenovo Thinkpads or HP Elitebooks  with Windows 10 go for under £300

Ok here we go (Prices are approximate)

Novatech also offer great machines and excellent service – Check them out

Bargain basement – up to £250 – Great for web browsing, Facebook, web based games, writing, email, watching films and listening to music. Check out Amazon Here

There are plenty of netbooks on the market offering 11.6” to 15.6” screens with Windows 10. They also come with a 32gb of solid state drive (ssd) and generally 2gb of memory and an Intel Atom processor. Be aware that at least 60% of the 32gb drive will be used by the operating system leaving very little to the user for storing files although a micro sd card or an external hard drive can be used for this purpose. And due to the very nature of these small machines it’s not a good idea to install loads of programs as it will slow down considerably, after all a netbook is a book for the net.

Intel Celeron / AMD A8/Ryzen laptops / 4Gb memory / 1 or 2Tb hard drives (Typical specs) Check out Amazon Here

There is nothing wrong with these computers at all. They will power through most everyday tasks quite well and have plenty of storage for your files, updates and programs.It is highly recommended to have a memory upgrade at the same time as often these machines share the memory between the graphics card and the operating system. Check out how much memory the laptop can take before you purchase as it’s often very cost effective to upgrade it giving your new laptop the best possible start.

Intel i3 / i5 / i7 / 8Gb memory / standard or hybrid/solid state drive Check out Amazon Here

These machines are the real work horses. The i3 being for basic stuff not too different from an AMD A8 but the i5 and i7 will get the hard work done if you are working with demanding video and photo tasks. Still consider a memory upgrade as well.

Memory upgrades : Fitting is generally very easy

Whatever computer you are looking to purchase always take a look at a memory upgrade at the same time. If you are buying from the manufacturer directly then they often offer an upgrade straight away. You can hop along to www.crucial.com/uk , search for the laptop and you will get precise information on upgrades for that model. If it’s not listed then sending Crucial a message is a good idea as they reply with exact upgrade info. 

This guide was written in 2016, since then some things have shifted a little. Many of us use Ipads and Android tablets now and of course, the humble mobile phone is not very humble anymore – for many of us it does everything.

It is perfectly possible to both scan and print from your mobile phone without having to even touch a computer, I will post details of this in another document. 

Chromebooks

Again, since I wrote this guide Chromebooks have really come along in capability. Most if not all of them now have access to the Android Play Store, this means one can install Microsoft Office, the file management is pretty good too. There is also OneDrive and many more making a Chromebook a serious contender for business or to get the kids homework done. And at prices starting around £200 they are worth a look.

Do you need professional email?

It’s all very well using a free email service but when it comes to business and efficiency you may want something a little better. Fastmail is that something better. For one thing, your email is not tracked and, as its a paid service you are also free of adverts. Many individuals and businesses use Dropbox to work and share files, it is one of the most popular file sharing services and Fastmail gives you access directly to your Dropbox files so you can easily attach anything.

The user interface is very well organised and complimented by a fabulous search facility so finding past emails is very quick. I have used this service for the last four years and would not think of changing, it costs nothing to give it a go.

Do you have a domain name? you can integrate the email part of it into Fastmail in order to keep continuity of your business.