Competition drives prices down, regardless of the industry. With a crowded field of vendors jockeying to be the trusted source of computer security for your home and office, prices for many of the essential elements of your security system have reached zero. Free downloads, free trials, free scans and freeware are everywhere. If you're willing to go without premium features like phone support, you can have a simple version of powerful software that large companies pay big bucks for.
With some creative computing, you can build a virtual fortress around your computer. From firewalls to encryption to backup and data recovery , you can fight spyware , viruses , spam and identity theft at absolutely no cost. Here are 103 free ways to improve your computer's security.
1. Comodo Personal Firewall : Comodo categorizes over 10,000 applications as safe, spyware, adware, and more to simplify your firewall management. All you have to do is download it for free.
2. Look 'n' Stop Firewall : Look 'n' Stop's firewall is now compatible with Windows Vista . The first 30 days are free; after that the cost is $29.
3. SoftPerfect Personal Firewall : SoftPerfect's firewall supports multiple network configurations and has a flexible filtering system — all for free.
4. Bit Defender 10 : Labeled by PC World as a "best buy" in 2006, Bit Defender's firewall is now available for free.
5. Securepoint Security : German-style security for free — what more could you want?
6. FWTK.org : Build your own firewall with free programs from this Web site.
7. WiseChoice.Net : This anti-porn filter cannot be turned off, and is designed to restrict porno addicts and the like. After a two-week free trial, the filter costs $5 per month.
8. iSentryII : Get a free download of software with a complete blocking list available for a fee.
9. RegCure : Does your computer keep crashing? Get a free scan from RegCure to identify and fix the problem.
10. ZoneAlarm : ZoneAlarm provides basic firewall services for free, including scanning inbound and outbound traffic.
11. CA Personal Firewall 2009 : This firewall, available with a free trial, demonstrates CA's business-strength protection services.
12. Webroot Desktop Firewall : Formerly $20, this personal firewall from Webroot is now available for free.
13. STOPzilla : This software "blocked all the spyware in [CNet Network Inc .'s] testing" with a free scan.
14. Spyware Blaster 4.0 : This free anti-spyware program doesn't need to be running to protect your machine.
15. Ad-Aware 2007 Free : With more than 250 million downloads, Ad-Aware is one of the most used free anti-spyware programs in the world.
16. Perfect Process V 1.1 : Offered by VelociWare, Perfect Process is "the easiest way" to protect against spyware for free.
17. Arovax Shield : This free anti-malware service provides real-time protection by running quietly in the background.
18. Windows Defender : Something free from Microsoft Corp. ? Shocking, but true.
19. Who's Watching Me? : Think you're computer's being watched? Trapware Corp.'s Who's Watching Me? program finds who's spying on you for free.
20. SpyBlocker : Blocking bad programs since 1999, SpyBlocker offers its protection against 30,000 threats at no cost for the first 15 days.
21. PrivacyKeyboard : This free program protects not just against spyware, but against hardware keylogging tools used to snoop on your keyboard input directly.
22. XSpy Shield Gold : XSpy protects your machine against keylogging snoopers and other data-mining bad guys. Try it out for free.
23. a-squared Free : Emsi Software's free anti-malware package has been downloaded by nearly 4.3 million users.
24. Norton Save & Restore 2.0 : During the 30-day free trial, Norton Save & Restore 2.0 schedules automatic backups on your computer.
25. Norton Ghost 14.0 : Norton's new application includes an exclusive integration with Google Desktop and a 30-day free trial.
26. Autobackup : This program from Acute Software automatically backs up changed files and directories, and it's free. The pro version starts at $24.95.
27. SyncBackSE : SyncBackSE comes with easy and expert modes, helpful wizards and a 30-day free trial.
28. EZBack-it-up : Without asking you a lot of questions, EZBack-it-up saves your files.
29. Cobian Backup v220.127.116.114 : This freeware backup comes with integrated .zip compression.
30. Back-IT-Up 5.0 : Free to try, $40 to buy - this program backs up information on networks with up to 20 computers.
31. Back4Win : Back4Win is a free, reliable backup option.
32. ICE Mirror : This freeware only backs up the files that have changed, so it works quickly in the background.
33. Freebyte Backup 3.0 : This freeware backup comes with filtering ability if you don't want to backup your .exe or .txt files.
34. Anonymous Surfing : Anonymizer Inc.'s program protects against phishing and pharming by allowing you to surf anonymously. It also hides your IP address from sneaky snoopers. The program is available with a free trial.
35. PGP Desktop Trial : You'll get Pretty Good Privacy with this free 30-day trial.
36. File Waster : Formerly called "File Buddy," this freeware allows you to encrypt or securely delete sensitive files.
37. CryptMage 5 : This strong freeware encryption doesn't require a cryptologist to use it.
38. Iron Key : The recipients of your encrypted email don't need to download Iron Key to unlock the file; they just need a password.
39. HandyBits EasyCrypto Deluxe : This easy-to-use freeware encryption is integrated with Windows Explorer .
40. Kryptel Lite : This free version of Kryptel supports integration with Iron Key.
41. TrueCrypt : TrueCrypt offers free, open-sourced, on-the-fly encryption.
42. FreeOTFE : This freeware provides on-the-fly encryption for PCs and PDAs.
43. CompuSec 5.1 : Encrypt your whole hard disk for free with CompuSec 5.1.
44. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition : This is one of the few totally free anti-virus offerings online, with more than 80 million users.
45. Avira AntiVir Personal : This software offers basic protection for free, and premium features start at 20 euros.
46. avast! antivirus Home Edition : With over 50 million users, avast! is free for home use.
47. Norton Internet Security 2008 Trialware : Detect and eliminate viruses and spyware for free for 15 days using this program.
48. CA Anti-Virus Plus : Protect your PC from Trojan horses, worms and other nasty critters with CA's free trial.
49. Windows Live OneCare : OneCare is always on, with a red-yellow-green indicator to communicate your PC's real-time safety level, and comes with a free 90-day trial.
50. McAfee VirusScan : Protect your computer and speed its performance for free with McAfee Inc. 's 14-day trial.
51. PC Tools Antivirus Free Edition 4.0 : PC Tools offers powerful protection that's totally free.
52. PC Security Test : This freeware simulates malicious attacks on your computer, reports the results and fixes your security holes.
53. Trend Micro HouseCall : This freeware offers protection for personal and home-office plans, but Trend Micro suggests that you contribute to a non-profit organization called Schools Online after using their services.
54. Scan Complete : This is the best protection freeware can buy.
55. Norton 360 : Norton 360 offers a free 15-day trialware with complete protection.
56. CA Anti-Spam Plus CA Website Inspector : This professional strength spam blocker also protects against phishing attacks launched from fraudulent Web pages. Try it for free.
57. SPAMfighter : SPAMfighter is a free spam filter for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express .
58. Cloudmark Desktop : Awarded "best buy" by Computer Shopper and "editor's choice" by PC Magazine , this spam killer is free for 15 days.
59. POPFile : POPFile scans your incoming emails and presorts good from bad. Financial donations are accepted, but otherwise it's free.
60. eXpurgate : Powered by the European software maker Eleven , eXpurgate is free to personal users.
61. Spamihilator : Spamihilator eliminates 98 percent of spam before it makes it to your inbox, for free.
62. Spamato : With a success rate that hovers just shy of 100 percent, Spamato is one of the best free applications available online.
63. SpamBayes : This is a powerful and free anti-spam program for Outlook that uses Bayesian statistics to separate spam from ham.
64. SpamPal : SpamPal helps sort the junk from Outlook, Outlook Express and Eudora email systems, for free.
65. SpamExperts Desktop : Get free spam protection on all POP3 (post office protocol) and IMAP (internet message access protocol) mail systems; premium features are also available for a fee.
66. Cactus Spam Filter : This free spam filter for POP email accounts bills itself as a "brutal, merciless spam killer."
67. SpamRIP : SpamRIP filters email by country of origin for an even cleaner inbox than the competition can provide.
68. BullGuard Spamfilter : BullGuard Spamfilter protects against spam with full integration with Mozilla Thunderbird .
69. G-Lock SpamCombat : This spam killer protects POP and IMAP accounts with country-of-origin filters, for free.
70. MailWasher : With over 8 million users, MailWasher scrubs your POP account to keep your inbox clean for free.
71. SpamWeasel Free : Offering flexible configurations and archive viewing, SpamWeasel is a good, free spam blocker.
72. Net Nanny : Protect your kids and monitor their Internet use with a 14-day free trial.
73. FreeShield : FreeShield is a free, easy-to-use porno blocker.
74. ParentalControl Bar : A free service from a non-profit to protect your kids from dangerous pornography.
75. Crawler Parental Control : Control your children's Web browsing, software use and folder access for free with this program.
76. K9 Web Protection : Over half a million homes have been protected for free by K9.
77. Golden Eye : Don't just keep your kids off the porn, spy on them too with Golden Eye - for free.
78. Free Parental Control : Detects and removes adult images, cookies and caches for free.
79. KGB Spy : This free keylogger gets your kids' passwords so you can seriously snoop on them.
80. ChatShield : Keep creeps from IMing your kids, for free.
81. ContentPurity : ContentPurity keeps your directories virginal, for free.
82. Recuva : This freeware utility recovers lost data now out of beta testing.
83. PC Inspector File Recovery 4.x : This program recovers files even when a header entry is no longer available, for free.
84. TestDisk : TestDisk is freeware that fixes partitions on drives, and makes unbootable disks bootable again.
85. PhotoRec : Recover lost pictures and video files with this freeware application.
86. IsoBuster : IsoBuster offers data recovery for CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disks, and comes with a free trial.
87. eDATA Unerase Personal Addition : This freeware version of Unerase allows full use of the product on one computer.
88. SoftPerfect File Recovery : This is a free and useful tool for recovering lost or accidentally deleted files from hard disks, CDs, flash drives and more.
89. Undelete Plus : Undelete's latest version, released by TouchStone Software Corp. in October 2007, is free for personal use.
90. FreeUndelete 2.0 : Priced at $69 for business customers, Free Undelete 2.0 is free for home or home-office use.
91. RoadKil's Undelete : This freeware recovery program is exclusively for Windows machines.
92. Norton Confidential : This anti-phishing and anti-pharming software package keeps you safe from identity theft, and is free for 14 days.
93. LifeLock : Free for 30 days, LifeLock monitors your credit reports with all three credit bureaus and offers a $1 million guarantee.
94. Comodo VerificationEngine : Use this freeware to feel confident that you are giving your information to whom intend, instead of a phishing hacker with a phony Web site.
95. McAfee Site Advisor : McAfee Site Advisor scans the Web looking for scams, and even fills in email addresses to see if they result in spam, all for free.
96. SpoofStick : SpoofStick helps identify a spoofed, or fake, site more quickly. This freeware is now available for Firefox.
97. FirePhish Anti-Phising Extension : Mozilla's free add-on to its Firefox browser helps identify spoofed sites trying to get your important information.
98. TrustWatch : This program helps prevent phishing attacks by providing extra information about sites and the ability to report suspicious activity; it's available with a free download.
99. ZoneAlarm Security Suite : The only Zone Alarm product with parental controls, this program is available for a free trial.
100. Norton 360 2.0 : The old comprehensive standby, Norton 360 2.0 is free for a 14-day trial.
101. MacroVirus : This multi-featured product protects against viruses, pop-ups, adware and other baddies; it offers a free scan and free download.
102. CyberDefender : CyberDefender is an anti-virus, anti-phishing and anti-spam suite, and provides a free scan.
103. StopSign : This all-in-one total package is priced for a recurring membership, and comes with a free scan.
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