Dell Mini 10v Just Showed Up--How to Protect it?
December 9, 2009 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I just got a new Dell Mini 10v. I need some advice on programs--for security and to fight viruses!

First thing, this is for my gf, who doesn't know anything about computers. I want to download all the good stuff for her. What security/firewall programs are good? I prefer the free stuff, mind you!

(I am a Mac OS guy. If I were to keep the compu, it would definitely be a hackintosh, but, alas, it's for her! So fill me in on how to protect this cool little thing.)
posted by mixer to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You know, my hackintosh HP netbook has been really solid and stable. After getting it working a couple of months ago, it's needed zero TLC since.

You say she doesn't know anything about computers, and it sounds like you'll be the go-to support guy anyway.... so why subject her to Windows?

If you can't make it Mac, go for Ubuntu.
posted by rokusan at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Firefox with Adblock Plus and maybe NoScript. She might find NoScript too annoying to use, but it's worth trying.

I wouldn't want an active virus scanner on a netbook because of the limited processing power. Firefox with Adblock Plus should handle almost everything. Use virus/malware tools if she has a problem.
posted by ODiV at 10:48 AM on December 9, 2009

Check to see if your internet provider offers free virus software (I know comcast does). Install that.

My Favorite Programs:

Spybot Search and Destroy
CCleaner (Not exactly security software, but extremely helpful in one-button-click clean up)

I've heard people use AVG or Avast as free virus software. and ZoneAlarm as a firewall. I have no personal use with these.
posted by royalsong at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Malawarebytes Anti-Malware.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition.

All are free downloads.
posted by meadowlark lime at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would recommend AVG Free antivirus, it's pretty solid.
posted by brainmouse at 10:53 AM on December 9, 2009

AVG used to be my favorite free AV solution; lately, I just find it annoying. Far too much pestering to upgrade to the paid version.
Nowadays, I usually use Avira AntiVir for my free AV. I do hear good things about Microsoft Security Essentials, but I haven't used it yet.
posted by willpie at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2009

Having been a PC repair tech for many years for both a day job and as a consultant, I never run any PC without the following free programs.

1. Antivirus: AVG Free 9.0 - Some with say others are better but this has suited me and my clients very well for years. The free Microsoft Security Essentials ( is another all-in-one package that is free and decent.

2. AntiSpyware: I generally run three free programs because I haven't found one commercial or free product that does the complete protection against spyware. I always use SuperAntiSpyware (, SpyBot ( and Windows Defender (

3. Firewall: Windows Firewall is usually decent enough to use and it is built in but for a free program offering more protection I would recommend Zone Alarm ( Firewall software can be a real pain if you don't know what you are doing with them so that is why I recommend users to just use the included Windows Firewall. If you deny access to the wrong program it might not work out right.

4. Encryption: For disk and file encryption I recommend using TrueCrypt ( which is free and open source and can be used to password protect files and folders or the entire hard drive.

The paid versions of these software offer schedule scans but for the free versions I would suggest manually running them bi-weekly or monthly.

Sure there are many more programs that will do that job but my advice has kept many computer problems away.
posted by randomthoughts at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

2nd-ing a Hackintosh. My GF (now wife) used to have a Dell with XP. Every few months I found myself purging it of spyware and viruses. It was a real chore just to keep it running. I finally just bought her an iBook G4 and I haven't had to touch her laptop(s) in years other than to migrate her user profile from one laptop to a replacement one over the years. [I'm excluding OS updates and application updates, etc. as that's normal for any OS and platform]. Best decision I've made in a long time. She uses her laptop (now an MSI Wind U100 that's hackintoshed) to Facebook, iChat, and surf the web in Firefox and not once have I had to spend hours and hours cleaning it up or nuking it from orbit to get it functional again because of a virus or spyware.
posted by at 11:16 AM on December 9, 2009

I'd go with Avast free (if anything) over AVG (which does recommend upgrades to frequently for my liking), ClamWin (which isn't quite as vigilant as I'd like on some computers), and Avira (which is still too many pop ups and reminders for me). I'd go with the Windows Firewall.

Definitely install firefox (w/ AdblockPlus) and/or Chrome. The disks tend to be small on these so I just backup often (and save a few states) and go to the roll back when issues occur (of course that doesn't help if something steals your passwords/banking info, etc).
posted by syntheticfaith at 11:16 AM on December 9, 2009

Panda cloud antivirus,
posted by hortense at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2009

Seconding the "if she knows nothing about computers, why subject her to windows"

Outside of hackintosh, you can try Ubuntu Netbook Remix with no real commitment. Put it on a USB stick and boot to it. It's a comically simple OS interface for basic things, web surfing and the like. If it fits the bill click on the install button. If it doesn't, no harm done (other than the sin of leaving windows on a computer)
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

If security is really your concern, go with a hackintosh or Ubuntu Netbook Remix right from the start. Both are easy to use for a novice and will be less of a headache in the long run. UNR has an especially nice interface on a netbook (is is compatible with the mini 10v) and it's already loaded with "the good stuff."
posted by quarterframer at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2009

I use Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my Mini 10v, and I've been very happy with it. If you decide to go that route and have questions, either follow up here or drop me a message - I'd be happy to share details.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:16 PM on December 9, 2009

Thanks, all! These look like good ideas.

I begged her to let me hackintosh it, but since Windows is the only thing she's ever tried, she wants it. I agree with you all--why bother with Windows? (She's in Peru, incidentally, and no one there has a Mac--aside from tourists--so when she needs help Windows will be supported a lot more.)
posted by mixer at 12:35 PM on December 9, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials is free and excellent. You don't need separate antivirus and antispyware if you use that - it's included.

The built-in Windows Firewall is more than adequate for most purposes.

Both of these options have the added benefit of being quite minimal in the system resources they consume, which is a big deal on a netbook.

Whatever else you do, put on Firefox or Chrome and hide the Internet Explorer icon!
posted by standbythree at 5:06 PM on December 9, 2009

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