Last Update: 10/6/2017
Optional Software from Microsoft and Other Third Party Developers is a crucial part of adding computer security to your Windows based PC. We recommend a minimal set of crucial network security software add-ons that we feel all users should install. Here are several extremely useful free security oriented software utilities from Microsoft, that are not bundled with the operating system. These programs add additional security for Windows and are free to download.
Before you make any changes to your system, always back it up.
Google Docs can replace Microsoft Word and Excel. Doing so helps prevent many of the security holes in Microsoft Office including Flash based bugs.
Microsoft Security Essentials – Free anti-virus software from Microsoft that is a no-brainer for everyone. Microsoft Security Essentials can also be used by small business on up to 10 PCs! It includes automatic updates and is easy to use.
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer – Scans your system for security problems, missing or obsolete Windows components and patches. This is oriented towards small and medium sized businesses but can also be used by consumers.
Windows Defender Offline formerly known as Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper Tool – A bootable software tool that can find root kits and other hard to find malware (like rootkits) that normal anti-virus and anti-spyware software can’t. This creates a bootable CD/DVD or USB drive that needs to be booted from. Only run this tool when you believe you have been infected or every three months or so.
3rd parties have a similar Rescue Bootable CDs:
- AVG Rescue CD
- Avira Rescue System
- BitDefender Rescue CD
- Comodo Rescue Disk
- F-Secure Rescue CD
- Kaspersky Rescue Disk no longer recommended – Russian Government Ties
- Trend Micro Rescue Disk
Microsoft Log Parser – is a powerful, versatile tool that provides universal query access to text-based data such as log files, XML files and CSV files, as well as key data sources on the Windows® operating system such as the Event Log, the Registry, the file system, and Active Directory®. The results of your query can be custom-formatted in text based output, or they can be persisted to more specialty targets like SQL, SYSLOG, or a chart.
Top Security Suites
If you prefer to purchase Internet security suite, a recent PC World review listed the top 3 security suites as:
Free and Useful third-party software tools
These are several critical tools that every user should have installed on their system to increase security. These tools are not made by Microsoft but are a critical part of any free security software suite.
Foxit Reader – PDF files are a widely used means of breaking into a computer. A 3rd party PDF-reading utility that has far fewer security holes than industry standard Adobe Reader. Malicious PDF files that are emailed, are one of the fastest growing infection vectors for malware. We recommend removing Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat Reader and using this instead.
PC Decrapifer – Quickly uninstalls unnecessary or trial software loaded by PC companies. This is a good program to run after you have purchased a brand new PC. No need to run this on an existing Windows PC.
Secunia – Scans your system for obsolete software. Older versions of software may possess security risks that must be fixed. If you find yourself updating a lot of software you do not use, uninstall the program. Older versions of software may no longer be updated, forcing users to pay for newer ones. Using old unsupported software may put you at a security risk. CNET Techtracker and PatchMyPC also help you stay abreast of software updates.
Zone alarm Free – A free firewall program that has been in existence for many years. It adds many capabilities and easy to access filters, over the one built into Windows 7.
Truecrypt – Free open-source software that encrypts critical files, folders, or entire drives. Utilizes extremely secure encryption algorithms. Store your most sensitive data within Truecrypt encrypted containers. Consider encrypting your entire drive if you own a laptop.
Truecrypt’s founders have walked away from its project around 2014 and say “WARNING: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues”. Forked versions of Truecrypt are now available as is a security audit on the code itself.
Veracrypt is based on Truecrypt 7.1a and should be what you switch to.
Revo UnInstaller – Uninstaller utility, only for use when the regular uninstaller fails to function.
CCleaner – This utility goes way beyond Windows 7’s disk cleanup tool. It helps remove unnecessary files to free up disk space, and to securely erase free space and deleted files. No need to ever pay for a utility that claims to speed up your machine or clean your registry. Supports 32-bit or 64-bit. Also cleans up files from many popular third party applications.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – was free software that helps you remove malware, not defend against it. With version 3 they started charging. They also have a free Malwarebytes AdwCleaner. Consider installing this program if you are unable to remove malware using the software utilities listed above. If Malwarebytes did not help to remove the infection, try SuperAntiSpyware Portable. Copy it to a CD or USB flashdrive, boot your computer into safe mode, then run the program. F-Secure has a free bootable Rescue CD that allows you to fix a computer that no longer starts up correctly.
WinPatrol – Takes snapshots of your critical system files and resources. The program then alerts you to any changes that may occur due to malware or installing software.
Retina Network Community – Lets you test your server and hosting for security vulnerabilities.
Heimdal Security Software Free – Helps update software to prevent security holes.
By applying several free Windows security utilities, we can significantly increase the security of our Windows notebook and desktop PCs.
This concludes our Free Security How to: Computer Security and Computer Protection on a Windows computer article. Other articles on Safegadget.com help you secure the other aspects of your personal computer, including How to Set up a Secure Wireless Network, and How to Secure Internet Explorer article, or How to Secure Firefox Article. Please see our other articles on security tips for your e-mail, iPad, online banking, online shopping, smart phones, and more.