Even though my main home PC runs Ubuntu, I still keep a finger in the Windows world using VirtualBox virtual machines. I have one such VM running XP and this became nigh on unusable due to the amount of background processing going on. Booting into safe mode and using msconfig to clear out extraneous services and programs running from system start time did help but I went one step further. Norton 360 (version 2 as it happened) was installed on their and inspection of Process Explorer revealed its hoggish inclinations and the fact that it locked down all of its processes to defend itself from the attentions of malware was no help either (I am never a fan of anything that takes control away from me). Removal turned out to be a lengthy process with some cancelling of processes to help it along but all was much quieter following a reboot; the fidgeting had stopped. ZoneAlarm Pro (the free version that was gifted to users for one day only towards the end of 2008). Windows continues to complain about the lack of an antivirus application that it recognises so resolving that is next on the to do list.
ZoneAlarm cut off VMware’s access to the internet so it was time to reinstall it. However, I messed up the reinstallation and now there seems no way to reinstate things like they were without tampering with my Windows XP installation status and I have no intention of doing that. The thing seems to think that it can start a TrueVector service that does not exist.
I have to have some some security software on board so I made a return to the Symantec fold with my purchase of Norton 360. That does sound extreme but I have been curious about the software for a while now. You get the usual firewall, antivirus and antispam functions with PC tuning, antiphishing and backup features available as well. It is supposed to be unobtrusive so we’ll see how it goes from here.
Update: PC Pro rates the software highly while Tech.co.uk accuses it of being bloatware. Nevertheless, the only issue that I am having with it is its insistence on having Microsoft Update turned on. I am sticking with Shavlik’s NetChk Protect, especially seeing what Microsoft have been doing with its update service. Take a look at Windows Secrets.com to see what I mean. Other than that it seems to working away in the background without intruding at all.
I finally had enough of internetnews.com’s intrusive CPU-eating ads and remembered that there was a Firefox add-on for the job. I have snagged Adblock Plus and can vouch that for its effectiveness. It also works with AccuWeather.com, a site about which I complained a while back. I just wonder why I didn’t thin of this earlier; it certainly beats what ZoneAlarm could do. Now, I see why its functionality has raised some hackles but if advertisers didn’t overdo it in the first place, there would have been no problems. Well, that’s marketing for you… And yes, we do want the right to ignore ads.
I had a recent problem with InternetNews.com: its adverts were causing Firefox to lock up my CPU. While I do put my CPU through its paces, I’d rather that others didn’t decide to do the same and with things that do not add a great deal of value. So it was time to set ZoneAlarm loose by cranking up its ad blocking to the max. There are occasions where exceptions are needed and right-clicking on a domain name in the site list in the Privacy area allows you to relax things on a site by site basis. Obviously, you need to know the website well but I don’t ever remember having this sort of control with Norton Personal Firewall when I had it on my main PC.
Having been an owner of ZoneAlarm Security Suite 6, I was wondering if I would get a pop-up inviting me to upgrade, free gratis as I have a subscription, to the latest version. In middle of my Office 2007 installation activities, the notification duly turned and I downloaded and installed the update to version 7.
The first change you will notice is in the branding, ZoneAlarm is now owned by Check Point Software Technologies, but the real reason for my interest is my hearing that Kapersky anti-virus technology is now part of the package. In addition, learning capabilities have also been added so that you don’t get annoyed by the thing asking you if it is alright for a certain application to do something or other that seems vaguely out of order, all of the time. This has been part of Norton Internet Security for a while and is certainly an asset; Windows Vista’s User Access Control feature would do well to implement some learning from what I have heard of its activities. And ZoneAlarm 6 was prone to nag you a lot as well, at least it did for me.
The installation went well for me apart from the non-activation of the anti-virus functionality. This took an update and a reboot to sort out and I think that it might have emanated from the changeover to British Summer Time that took place last weekend. I shall be keeping an eye out for what happens when the changeover to Winter time takes place (don’t worry, I fully plan to enjoy the intervening time; I have more than learned to enjoy each season for its delights). Having a time changeover like this knock out your anti-virus software is far from ideal. Other than that, everything is working fine and the firewall is staying silent as it continues to learn.