Steven Grant recommended the following programs in his Permanent Damage column, and I thought some of you might find them useful. Neva's already using both of them, and I will be as soon as I'm done downloading 'em. But I'll let him explain:
"Some more useful software for PC users:
Antivirus problems are a necessity these days, but it turns out there's no need to spring for a commercial program like Norton or McAfee anymore. I've tried several free antivirus programs over the years, but there've been problems with all of them. They lock up computers, or they never update their definitions (so you're always vulnerable to newer viruses and trojans) or they used up too many resources and slow down system performance. (Not that commercial antivirus programs are free of all these complaints either.) Enter Avast! Antivirus. It's from a Czech company, but I've been using it on two significantly different computers for a couple weeks now, and it's been practically invisible. It has a lot of really nice features. It's an easy install and doesn't take a ton of disk space. It uses negligible system resources. It automatically updates when you go online, and notifies you so you can see what's been changed if you're so inclined. And it's absolutely free, for non-commercial use. You have to re-register every fourteen months, but what the hey. So far I haven't had a bit of trouble with it, and I don't think I've ever said that about anti-virus software before.
I think I've mentioned this before, but if you want a smaller, more flexible browser alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer (and I don't count the equally bloated Netscape or the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time Opera or Mozilla), check out MyIE2, which hooks into the underlying web access software Microsoft built into Windows. It runs smaller and tighter, again nowhere near the resource hog IE is, and it has more cool features, like automatically opening a new window when you click to a new page (great for cross-referencing things), and lets you build groups so you can open many webpages with one click, which can save a lot of time. It's also a 711k download instead of the, what is it now, 16 megs?, IE demands. I used MyIE for a long time, and MyIE2 is the improved new version. I've been using it for several months. It's a great little program. You may still need IE on your system - I had it on mine before I switched to MyIE, so I don't know - but you'll never have to use it again."