Archive for February, 2012

How To Remote Into Your Computer For Free

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Suppose for a moment that you have a lot of data that you need to access on your computer at any given moment, but you don’t want to lug it around with you everywhere you go. The easiest way to do this is to simply remote into your computer from another location. Seems easy enough, until you come to the realization that after searching for software that allows you to perform this, that almost all of them require money. Thankfully, rather than shelling out your hard earned cash to access your own data from across the internet, there are free ways to do this.

If you’re working with computers that have the same version of Windows installed, you can remotely access the computer by going to Start>Accessories>Remote Desktop Connection. Once you start Remote Desktop Connection, you’ll be prompted with a screen that asks you for the computer name, provided you’re looking for one that’s already on the network. Most of the time you probably won’t be using this option, so you’ll want to hit the button that says “Options>>”, which will expand to a whole range of input forms that allow you to specify where the computer is on either a network or over the internet, display quality, various system settings, and more. Once you decide how you want to connect remotely to the computer, you’re free to hit “Connect” and be on your way. Remote Desktop Connection is available for the following operating systems: Windows 9x, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and Mac OSX. Also keep in mind that it’s best to make sure that both computers are running the same operating system. You can also use a wan to connect remote employees working at home with the company’s main office.

Even though the default install of Remote Desktop Connection is fairly limited in its capability to perform other tasks, Microsoft does have another free application called Windows LiveMesh, however it also has its drawbacks and its advantages. LiveMesh is designed to run on Windows Vista and later, along with Mac OSX installed on systems with Intel architecture. The advantage to this is that even though LiveMesh is only designed to run on Vista, 7 and OSX, there is a layer of cross compatibility with different operating systems. This means that if you need to remotely access files that are stored on a Mac, you can access these files with LiveMesh from a Windows platform or vice versa. Unfortunately, if you’re running an earlier version of windows, you’ll probably want to use Remote Desktop Connection.

The features/limitations of LiveMesh are as follows:

Between PCs, you can sync up to 200 folders containing up to 100000 files each, with each file having the upper data limit of 40GB a piece. This roughly translates to a maximum transfer total of 800 Petabytes across 20 million files. Most users will never reach this kind of limit unless they are dealing with transferring large storage arrays over the internet.

LiveMesh allows up to 5GB worth of files to be stored on Microsoft Servers (in the cloud). In comparison to the storage capacity of current drives available on the market, this isn’t really a whole lot of data, however, most users will probably be using it to store documents and other types of files to be accessed from different locations, instead of media such as music and movies.

Remote Desktop access is also available via LiveMesh and Windows Live Devices. LiveMesh also allows some application settings to be transferred as well, such as those used with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.

The last product that we’ll briefly cover allows you to remotely connect to another computer is VNC. Although the paid versions of this application are a lot more versatile and offer a richer, and more robust set of features, the reason why this is also a popular solution is because of its ability to connect to any other VNC server, regardless of the operating system that VNC is installed on. Even if there isn’t a client written for a particular operating system, there are also VNC Clients and Servers written in Java, which is also platform independent. If you’re looking for a basic application to handle remoting into a computer (and provided you have appropriate third party software installed to handle data transfer), then VNC is definitely an application worth looking into.

Sync Your Files On Mobile, PC and Mac For Free

Monday, February 6th, 2012

There are a lot of consumers that have mobile devices and a computer at their disposal with a lot of files that they use on a fairly frequent basis. These files run the gamut from documents, notes, music and even movies. It’s pretty easy to transfer them manually, but there are several easy ways to do this automatically, which will save you a lot of time, effort, and possibly a lot of money, depending on which service(s) you choose.

The first, and probably the best solution is SugarSync. While SugarSync isn’t compatible with linux, it is compatible with Windows, Mac and Mobile devices and also offers 5GB of space for free. However, it only allows you to sync two computers and one mobile device at any given time. Any files that you decide to use can also be accessed from a web browser, which also helps make sure that your files are synched according to your liking.

There are also other great features that SugarSync offers. The first of these is the ability to edit files offline, and then SugarSync will automatically updates those files the next time your computer or mobile device is online. You also have the ability to share your data with other people as well, which comes in handy during a group project, thus ensuring that all of the data required for that particular project is up-to-date and can be accessed by everyone.

SugarSync also makes sure that your data is secure from prying eyes. This is a valuable feature in the event that you need to restore data to either a mobile device or a PC, and you don’t want to worry about whether the data you’ve previously synched has been compromised or not. Also going hand in hand with sharing your files, you can also choose who to share what files with, along with who can modify the items in question. SugarSync also gives you the ability to publish photos to facebook, stream music to your mobile phone, and share media with your friends by sending them a link via email to the media that you’d like to share with them.

Sugarsync supports the following operating systems, mobile devices and browsers:

OS – Windows XP, Vista, 7, Mac OSX
Browsers – Internet Explorer 7 (minimum), Chrome 8.0.x, Firefox 3.6.x, Safari 5.0.x
Devices – iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, SugarSync Mobile Web

The second most versatile product to use for synching your files is Dropbox. Although it doesn’t have as much versatility or space (2GB Free) as SugarSync, it is compatible with Linux, allows the user to set bandwidth limits, and all files are automatically encrypted. Dropbox also supports the iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android.

The third free product that we’ll cover is While isn’t truly compatible with as many mobile devices as SugarSync or Dropbox, it does offer a lot more space (up to 50GB) with its free version. However, there is a 1GB limit to the file sizes, and there is no feature for password protected sharing with the free version. Any mobile device that has built-in web browser capabilities can use this service.

Whichever one of these three great services you choose to sync your mobile devices is up to you, but you’ll undoubtedly find that they’ll save you a lot of time, and effort. The upside is that if you want a paid service for more features, any of these three are pretty much the way to go. You can also consider a document database for a great data management software.

Top Free Antivirus Software

Monday, February 6th, 2012

There is a lot of antivirus software available on the market. A good portion of it offers protection, but you have to pay for that protection. One of the best ones, hands down, is ZoneAlarm anti-ransomware. I’ve been using this one for long and can vouch for it. Thankfully, there are some antivirus/antimalware applications that you don’t have to pay for to get decent protection. We’ll take a look at some of them, and rate them according to their effectiveness and speed. Some of them we’ve chosen not to list, because even though they are free, their detection rates are subpar, they throttle the system so badly that it’s not worth installing them, or there are no free versions of said product.

In another article, we discussed that TrendMicro offers an application called HijackThis. They also offer a service called “Housecall”, which is a free online version of their top-rated antivirus scanner, and there is also a 30 day trial version as well. The only downside is that in order to use TrendMicro’s Housecall, you’ll need an internet connection, a minimum of 200MB of free disk space and at Windows XP, Vista, or 7. The scans are typically quick with almost no false positives, regardless if you use Housecall or the 30 day trial version of their software. TrendMicro’s detection rate is one of the highest on the market with an average of 99.5%

Clamwin is another great antivirus solution that implements‘s open source database. Admittedly, it doesn’t have realtime protection or as many threat definitions as some of its competitors, advanced users have the ability to add their own customized definitions to the database, which greatly increases the chances of catching malware. The speed and efficiency of which ClamWin implements‘s database is nothing to be scoffed at either. Due to the fact that is basically an open source project, new features and improvements are constantly being added and improved upon. There are also dozens of various third party projects involving ClamAV, which extends support to several operating systems, and not just windows. Although it may not be THE top notch client, for those who are looking for a solution to add their own level of expertise to, ClamWin/ClamAV is definitely something worth looking into. Detection rates vary depending on how modified the databases are from user to user. On average, one can expect the detection rates to fall within the range of 90%-92% against active threats.

Much like TrendMicro’s Housecall, Kasperksy also offers an anti-hijacking/rootkit tool called TDSSKiller. Their most prominent product, however, is their virus scanner. Kaspersky offers a 30 day trial of their software, much like TrendMicro, and they also offer a free online scan as well (available at Kaspersky AntiVirus has a well-earned reputation for being one of the top antivirus products in the industry, and with good reason. Even though their scantimes are around 20-30 minutes (sometimes more, depending on the system and files being scanned for), they have a very low rate of false positives, and in most tests, KAV usually averages around 98% when detecting active threats. Most of the other competitors fall significantly short of this by detecting anywhere from 88% to 95% of active threats.

BitDefender is another product worthy of notice as well, because of its high detection rates. BitDefender offers a free version of its product to consumers who are interested in free, basic protection. BitDefender Free Edition does not offer realtime protection, and sometimes slows system performance a bit, but it offers detection rates slightly higher than that of Kaspersky, while being slightly lower than TrendMicro, placing it at a comfortable mix between its two major competitors.

While all of these products listed have their advantages and disadvantages, I would recommend that the average user has at the very least either BitDefender or ClamWin installed, while making use of TrendMicro and Kaspersky’s online scanners. With all four of these products at one’s disposal, there isn’t much that can get through this line of defense and compromise your system.