Woody Leonhard at the highly regarded Window Secrets says in a two-part article that Microsoft’s free Security Essentials is all the antivirus protection you need, that defraggers are a waste of money, and registry cleaners can be worse than useless.
“The Registry is an enormous database, and all this cleaning really doesn’t amount to much … I’ve said this before, but I liken it to sweeping out one parking space in a parking lot the size of Montana.” And that’s the long and short of it.
As for defraggers, Vista and Windows 7 have a free version that runs on a schedule of your choice, so why pay for one?
Like its predecessors, Windows 7’s firewall only keeps outside threats from getting in — it’s an inbound firewall. Outbound firewalls alert you when an unauthorized program attempts to send data out of your computer. At least that’s the theory. In practice, many outbound firewalls bother you mercilessly with inscrutable warnings saying that obscure processes are trying to send out data.
Yet if you allow the outbound program access, then you’ve defeated the point of the outbound firewall. And virtually all the time, the inscrutable warnings are wrong and hysterical when they alert you Something Horrible Might Be Happening – like your text editor is trying to access the Internet (I just had Zone Alarm do this.)
Leonhard says outbound firewalls are a waste of time.
The best way to avoid infections is to not click links you are unsure of and avoid porn, gambling, and filesharing sites.