There’s little correlation between how much you spend for security software and how safe you are, unless you visit a lot of risky websites.
I’m often asked what security software to use. I don’t make buying recommendations for commercial products, but I can give general advice — including which software to avoid.
Julie Arnsdorf of Plymouth, Minnesota, said her 1-year-old PC had become sluggish after installing McAfee Endpoint Security program, which was provided by her internet service provider, CenturyLink.
“My normally fast computer was terribly slow,” Arnsdorf wrote. “YouTube videos constantly buffered (stopped while downloading more data) after a few seconds. Facebook posts, comments and videos were slow to load, if they ever did. Websites were slow to load, too. I removed McAfee and reinstalled it, but it had virtually no effect. I felt like I was on a dial-up connection.”
While reviewers have praised McAfee Endpoint Security for its protective features, many said it can overwhelm a PC by using too much processor time and accessing the hard disk too often. The overworked PC then dramatically slows down.
I suggested Arnsdorf get another brand of security software and uninstall the McAfee program. (Never run two always-on PC security programs at the same time because that also slows a PC.) That raised the question of what she should replace it with.
There’s little correlation between how much you spend for security software and how safe you are. It’s more a matter of what makes you feel safe, and how risky your computer behavior is.
If you visit potentially dangerous websites, such as illegal video downloading sites, sites that offer bargains or free products, or sexually explicit sites, buying the latest security software makes sense. The same goes for people who frequently visit several social media sites, which are often the target of hackers. (For lists of highly rated, for-pay security programs, see tinyurl.com/ydant2vk or tinyurl.com/yckal764).
But if you mainly visit well-known commercial websites and use social media sparingly, you can probably rely on Microsoft’s free security software: the Microsoft Defender antivirus and firewall program included in Windows 10.
Q. I’ve been using the Windows 10 Edge browser, but I heard there’s a new version of Edge. What are the differences between the versions?
— Carrie Brunk, Muskego, Wisconsin
A. Microsoft’s new Edge browser is a lot like the Google Chrome browser (it’s built on the same free, open-source software code.)
And it’s better than its predecessor.
The original Edge browser was slow, couldn’t be customized the way Chrome could and worked only with Windows 10. As a result, Edge was used on about 3.5% of desktop computers; Chrome was used on about 69.5% (see tinyurl.com/ry7fbl4 ).
Because the new Edge browser mimics Chrome, it’s faster and can use the thousands of Chrome “extensions,” which are add-on programs that customize the browser. (Chrome extensions range from Honey, which finds coupons for online shoppers, to Dalton, which makes websites more readable for people who are colorblind.) And the new Edge is available for Windows PCs, Macs and Apple and Android phones. You can download the new Edge browser (see tinyurl.com/v7rutyh ) or wait for Microsoft to update your copy of Windows 10.
Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: [email protected] Please include a full name, city and phone number.