Terry's Computer Tips - Newsletter May 21, 2006

Volume 1, Number 49 — Sunday, May 21, 2006

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Prevent and Repair Windows Registry Problems
Scan, Repair and Optimize your Windows Registry with

5.  Partial Uninstall Woes

Terry...when I turn my computer I get this error... I've looked at DLL sites and can't find why I am getting this and how to correct it...do you know? Thanks and thanks for your most helpful website... Sue N TX
Rundll
C:\PROGRA~1\MYWEBS~1\bar\1.bin\MWSBAR.DLL

MWSBAR.DLL is part of the MyWebSearch toolbar for Internet Explorer. It is installed as a BHO (Browser Helper Object) in Internet Eplorer. While some legitimate applications are installed as BHOs, it is also the way many spyware or adware programs make sure they get started.

I found some information about MWSBAR.DLL here http://www.pchell.com/support/mywebsearch.shtml.

Hopefully Sue had partially uninstalled MyWebSearch or some anti-spyware program that she runs had partially uninstalled it, because she's getting the "not found" error as Windows tries to start it.

The error means that Windows is being told, in this case by Explorer.exe (the super Explorer program that actually is the Windows Desktop, Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer). Since it is the Windows Desktop and is also IE, and since MyWebSearch is installed as a BHO, MyWebSearch tries to start as you start Windows.

My first step to eliminate it would be to install and run WinPatrol http://www.terryscomputertips.com/computers/free-software-review-winpatrol.php

One of the tabs in WinPatrol allows you to easily uninstall Browser Helper Objects.

6.  My Computer Security Software Recommendations

My Philosophy: Many people want to pick their most economical solution and prefer an all-in-one anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall solution. In concept, that's a great idea. In actual practice, this type of package is not likely to be the best in all the protection categories you need.

Other people want to pick the best of each type program. I'm one of the these folks. You can read about my security software choices here.

So, I've got two types of recommendations below: the all-in-one solutions and my picks of the individual products for people who want to pick a program of each type.

Anti-Virus

For your anti-virus needs (and, yes, you do have anti-virus needs!) I recommend anti-virus software from Trend Micro, Panda Software, Kaspersky or ESET.

Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2006 offers anti-virus, anti-spam, and firewall for your PC and PDA. TrendMicro provides an easy-to-use product that is from one of the big names in the anti-virus world.

Panda Software's Platinum 2006 Internet Security offers anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall and more.

The Kaspersky Personal Security Suite is a program package specifically developed to provide comprehensive protection from all types of malicious programs for personal computers running under the Windows operating system (Win98, WinMe, 2000, XP). This solution prevents the infiltration of viruses, worms, spyware, adware and other malicious programs via potential penetration paths, provides protection against unauthorized access attempts, and includes anti-spam components. Kaspersky claims the industry leading virus detection rates and the fastest virus updates. Kaspersky offers a 30-day free trial on its products.

Each of the above companies also offers a stand-alone anti-virus program.

I'm often asked about several large, popular anti-virus or anti-virus combination packages. Yes, I realize that they are not in my recommendation list, although I could easily use referral links for them, too.

My personal choice is the ESET's small, fast NOD32 anti-virus program, which offers a FREE 30-day evaluation license. I consider NOD32 to be the cream of the crop in anti-virus protection. Unlike some of the others, ESET offers multiple-year licenses also, including updates to the program as well as to the anti-virus signatures.

Firewall Software

If you get either the PC-cillin Internet Security or the Panda Software Internet Security package above, you are covered from a firewall point of view.

While the Windows XP firewall is much better than no firewall, don't count on the Windows XP firewall to provide your needs. You need a much better firewall than the Windows XP firewall.

The Windows XP firewall does not control outbound communications originating from your computer -- and you should want to have control if adware/trojans/spyware or even commercial products want to talk to the Internet (Do you want Windows Media Player to call home every time you play something? It does! Many other programs call home when you run them, too.)

If you don't get either of the above multi-function packages, I recommend my choice for a firewall program is Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall. You can try the full-featured "paid version" of Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall free for 30 days -- after that, you can register it or it loses the special functions of the paid version. Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall is \$19.95 for a non-expiring license for the program and includes one year of their updates subscription.

You may prefer ZoneAlarm Pro or the ZoneAlarm free firewall as alternatives — I used to...

Read more about the need for firewalls in The Internet Versus You articles.

CounterSpy, from Sunbelt Software, has received many kudos from the computer press for its always-running and periodic full system scans. I use CounterSpy on my notebook (my main computer!), my wife's computer and my son's computer. I highly recommend this program.

Panda Software's Platinum 2006 Internet Security also includes anti-spyware. Anti-spyware is one situation where more than one scanner actually is better. Only let one program provide the real-time, always-running protection, but doing periodic scans with two different programs are a better solution to adware & spyware than only one scanner. No one anti-spyware program catches everything. Also, different companies differ in their criteria for classifying programs as adware and/or spyware.

Anti-spam Software

In today's Internet world, the question is not "if" you will get spam, but when and how much. I'm changing my recommendation on anti-spam software. I use and now I recommend PopFile as my first choice.

PopFile uses a different approach to spam than some other programs — it does nothing to reduce spam. It is designed as an email classification tool — you train it to recognize spam and any other type of email that you want to classify. These classifications can help you sort your emails into appropriate folders in your email program.

Mailwasher Pro is my first choice to handle spam before it ever gets into your computer's Inbox. Mailwasher Pro uses on-line Realtime Black Lists mail servers sending spam recently, "training" by you of what you think is spam, and your own "friends" and "blacklist" lists. Mailwasher Pro can even bounce spam messages, as if your email address was not valid, although the usefulness and appropriateness of this is questionable. There is s free version called "Mailwasher," but it omits a lot of the functions of Mailwasher Pro that I consider essential for that purpose — such as previewing the emails safely before they ever get to your email inbox.

Cable/DSL Router

If you have a cable modem or a DSL modem, you need to have another layer of inexpensive protection between you and the Internet. A cable/DSL router isolates your computer from direct connection to the Internet. Your computer can easily request your email, web pages, etc. through the router. The responses come back to the router and are smoothly routed to your computer. But, someone on the Internet side of the router can not initiate a connection to your computer — they can only respond to your request.

Even if you only have one computer to connect to your cable or DSL modem, I recommend that you purchase and use a cable/DSL router because of the protection it can give you against attempts to attack through some flaws in Windows itself.

A router isolates your local network, whether it is only one computer or several, from the Internet by actually making it a separate network. The router gets the "public" IP address and handles all your outbound communications and the responses to them. But, it blocks computers on the Internet side from being able to initiate communications with your computer! This will prevent you from falling prey to many worms that try to attack security holes in Windows itself.

My pick is the Linksys WRT54G 802.11g wireless router (Amazon.com or Buy.com ). If you don't want wireless now, or at any time, the function is easily turned off in the router's menu. You may be able to find a wired (that is, non-wireless) Linksys router on sale. If you don't want wireless, I recommend the Linksys BEFSR42 wired router (Amazon.com or Buy.com). Either way, based on my experience, I recommend Linksys routers.

Read more on my Wireless Security web page.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Volume 1, Number 49 — Sunday, May 21, 2006
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3