A reader asked if the free Windows Defender is enough. Should he pay for an antivirus?
After a lot of research on this issue, I say no. Windows Defender, which is part of Windows, is good enough. In an AV-Comparatives test, it stopped 99.5% of threats. In an SE Labs test, it stopped 99%. By not renewing my Bullguard antivirus, I’ll save $120 over three years.
Windows Defender does a great job on old-school viruses, according to HowToGeek, so you don’t need another antivirus. But criminals have moved on from viruses to ransomware, zero-day attacks and other nasty stuff. For that, HowToGeek recommends Malwarebytes. I’ve been a subscriber for years.
There’s a free download at malwarebytes.com. It starts you off with the Premium version ($40 a year) and reverts to the free version 14 days later if you don’t pay up. The only difference between the Premium and free versions is that the paid version protects you in advance. The free version removes problems after they’ve hit you. Admittedly, I can’t remember the last time it found a threat on my machine.
The great thing about both Windows Defender and Malwarebytes is that they will not slow your computer down like so many others do. The free Avast and the free Avira, for example, which used to be highly recommended, are now the bad boys of bloatware. They install browser extensions that make you less safe, registry cleaners that can be both harmful and unnecessary, and unsafe junkware, according to PC World.
I just got an email from the husband of an old friend, or so it seemed. He said he had a “favour” to ask, spelling it in the British way. “What’s up?” I said. He said he lost a childhood friend to COVID. Could I make a small donation to the family using the Zellepay app?
It sounded like a scam. I told him to call me using the number in the P.E.O. directory. That’s a women’s club address book he should have had access to. I never heard back.
Like most phishing attacks, this one depended on getting me to do something dumb. What was tricky was that the message appeared to be coming from a legitimate email address. But when I compared it with an old email address from the guy, I noticed that the recent one was one letter off. I deleted it as fast as you can say “Scram!”
Websites can be tricky too. Microsoft Edge blocks only 67% of the bad ones. Chrome blocks 90%, Firefox blocks 80%. If in doubt, don’t offer any info.
Ready for Windows 11?
Windows 11 is coming this holiday season. To find out if your computer can handle it, search on “PC Health Check app.” Then click on the Microsoft link and download the app. My 5-year-old computer lacks the system requirements, but Windows 10 will be supported until 2025. I clicked through to a shopping site and saw a Windows 11-ready laptop from HP for only $300. I think I’ll stick to my desktop for now. Except for the ability to use Android apps in Windows 11, the changes look like window dressing.
I find it annoying to get daily text messages from Crate and Barrel and other stores. I finally got rid of them on my Android phone. Here’s how to do it on Android and iPhones.
On an Android phone, go to a text message you want to block. Tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner and choose “Settings.” Tap on “Details,” or something similar. (Wordings can vary from phone to phone.) Choose “Block and report spam,” or something like that.
On an iPhone, open the text from someone you want to block. Tap the number, then tap the info icon. On the next screen, tap “info” again. Now you’ll see options for blocking the texter or caller.
Using your PC as a TV
Thanks to a recent Windows 10 update, you can watch movies or play games in High Dynamic Range (HDR) on a desktop computer. That’s like getting a 4K television on your computer screen. But it all depends on the kind of monitor you have.
To find out if your computer setup meets the requirements, type “HDR” into the search box in the lower left of your screen. Click on “Windows HD Color Settings.” You’ll see a section on HDR. Next to mine, I saw the word “no.”
What can you watch in full-color HDR? I checked with whatnerd.com, which has a list of the “most beautiful TV shows in 4k or HDR.” It only mentioned 10 shows. One of them was David Attenborough’s excellent documentary series “Planet Earth II.” I’m sure there’s a lot more than this, but it might not be worth getting a new monitor for.
DryCycle looks like a tiny electric car but is an electrically assisted bicycle, small enough for bike paths. Built for rainy days, it has fully enclosed heated air, heated handlebars, an optional heated seat and a top speed of 15.5 miles per hour. The range is 50 miles, unless you add more batteries. It’s around $334, but is only available at an auction on July 17. More info at drycycle.co.uk.