MD is now FREE. MD is a classical HIPS (Host-based Intrusion Prevention) app. It is an extremely powerful security app. To get maximum effective use, you must be willing to carefully consider what to do in response to each of MD's alerts.
When used competently, MD will provide 99.99% bulletproof protection for system files, kernel, all other key files, and the registry. It also provides network protection over inbound and outbound internet connections.
The learning curve for properly configuring MD is a bit steep, but well worth the effort. MD needs NO signatures or daily updates.
MAXA manages EVERY type of cookie, including web bugs, flash, etc. It can be run in real-time, if desired -- in which case it will automatically prevent the loading of any and all cookies from sources that you have blacklisted. It can also be run on-demand as an after-the-fact cookie manager/killer.
MAXA is easy to use, feather light, and rock stable. Support is by email (fast and friendly) and the Help file is very clear - rarely needed.
Price: Free Trial ($35.00)
IFW (Image for Windows) is user friendly, and stable as a rock. I use it on my computer. My granddaughter (she's 9) uses it on her computer. It just WORKS.
Before buying any other disk image software, I suggest you visit first its support forum. Then visit the support forum for Image for Windows/DOS. Judge for yourself -- which forums show happy users and which forums are loaded with unhappy users? Then buy the software with the happy users and -- you'll be happy, too.
Price: Free Trial ($38.94)
System Safety Monitor (SSM) belongs to a class of security programs known as "HIPS" (Host-based Intrusion Security Prevention). SSM is arguably THE very best HIPS for use on personal computer or home office.
SSM needs no signature updates, and is effective against zero-day attacks, viruses, rootkits and other trojans, worms, etc. SSM will also protect any or all of your processes against being shutdown or counterfeited by malware.
The only caveat in using SSM is that you, the user, must answer pop-ups whenever SSM encounters any process that is unknown to it, or is attempting an action which SSM considers is potentially hostile, and/or you have set a rule that requires SSM to ask your permission before running that particular process.
In other words, SSM is a superb TOOL for protecting your computer, but it most assuredly is not your nanny.
SIDE NOTE- If you happen to PREFER a "nanny-type" HIPS, try PREVX1 and set it to "abc" mode.
Price: Free Trial ($24.95)
DTaskManager is a BMW whereas the Windows TaskManager is a Yugo. Per the title I have used, DTMgr has more features and is far more powerful than the Win TskMgr. I highly recommend it.
I have used Ace Utilities for several years to maintain my registry and keep my computer free of trash. It has kept my computer clean and fast. It has never caused a malfunction. It backs up every registry change it makes, but I have never needed to do a restore.
There have been several updates to this program since I bought it several years ago. There has been no additional charge since I bought it. What a bargain!
Price: Free Trial ($29.00)
Watcher is a category of security program known as a "file integrity checker*. It uses a complex algorithm to calculate a checksum for each file it protects. If even one bit (1/8th of a byte) of a protected program is changed, Watcher will detect it and report it to you. This type of protection is excellent for spotting malware that is so new that signatures do not yet exist to detect it.
When Watcher reports a change, it gives you options to examine the file, accept the change, or deny it, or exempt that file from future checking.
It doesn't take an expert to be able to decide if a given file change is suspicious or not. The protected files are of the type that generally should never be changed without some action on your part to CAUSE the change (such as a download or update). Thus, a modified file (whereof you have no recollection of having caused such a change) should be regarded as highly suspicious.
Arovax is a shield against unwanted changes to browser settings and key startup/registry files. It is *somewhat* similar to programs such as WinPatrol and WinSonar, but with fewer features and a much lighter footprint. Its alerts are faster than those for WinPatrol or Winsonar.
Aro's developer is personally monitoring and participating in Aro's own forum, as well as major security forums such as CastleCops and Wilders. Aro is stringently maintained. It's very stable on my granddaughter's WinME machine -- which is saying a lot.
I highly recommend Arovax. However, if you are paranoid, or if you are prone to surfing in the internet's *shark infested waters*, then you probably need a full-on Host-based Intrusion Protection System (HIPS) such as Online Armor. As for moi, I use Aro 99% of the time, and use Online Armor whenever I feel like doing something stupid (from a security standpoint, that is.)
Process Alert (PA) will notify you whenever a new process is started. PA gives you the choice to let the process run or terminate it. PA will let a process run if you sit there & do nothing, so you have to stay alert. If you immediately terminate a suspicious process, you can (hopefully) prevent a trojan or some other malware from catching hold & doing damage.
To move up a notch in terms of security protection, PA needs to make MD5 or SHA-1 checksums of trusted processes. I asked PA's programmer about this, & he is considering it.
If you're on Win 9x or WinME, Process Alert offers *pretty good* protection. If you're on WinXP, there are better choices.
Price: Free Trial ($14.99)
Fingerprint (FPt) is an on-demand system integrity monitor, and a good one. Integrity monitors work on the principle that malware HAS to modify or add a file in order to execute.
FPt first makes a "baseline fingerprint" (an MD5 checksum) of each file that you want protected. It keeps this fingerprint in a special file. Then, when you check to see if any of the protected files have been modified, FPt makes a second fingerprint & compares it with the baseline fingerprint. If there is any change whatsoever to a protected file -- even as little as a single bit -- FPt will tell you.
If the changed file arouses your suspicions then (in the words of Sherlock Holmes): "The game's a'foot!" In other words, YOU have to chase down the cause of the change. FPt doesn't do the research for you.
FPt can help you to spot malware that slips by your other security protection. Ergo, it is a *failsafe* that no paranoid user should be without.