Does ISP software protection work?

Question

I keep seeing various ISPs promoting computer fix and protection packages as part of their service and am wondering if these “one-click fixes” really work or is it just a marketing gimmick?

- Jenette

Answer

This question was answered on January 20, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

When I started servicing computers in the late 1980’s, there were very few variables involved, but times have changed and the variables involved in keeping a computer safe and running smoothly have grown exponentially (weren’t we supposed to see more user friendly computers by now?)

Part of the problem is that today’s operating systems (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.) are more hardware specific This means that any given installation of Windows is unique to that particular system and the combination of hardware and software that make up that system.

This fundamental difference means that no two computers are exactly alike (unless you are under the control of a corporate network) A simple difference in anti-virus software or printer drivers can make two computers that came off the line the same, completely different in how they interact with other programs.

This is also why no software company has ever been successful introducing a utility program that works on every computer and provides the exact same results every single time If everyone’s computer is somewhat unique, then the results will always be somewhat unique

What may work brilliantly for one user may cause a total system meltdown for another (take a close look at software disclaimers) and there is no way to know what will happen with your specific machine until you install the program.

Companies that promote simple fixes are counting on your problems to be simple and when they are, the software they are promoting generally works as advertised.

The dilemma comes in when someone that is already in big trouble tries to install a program for a quick fix Not only does it not fix the original problem, often times it makes them worse (and more complex to have repaired) Many folks also don’t realize that they have pre-existing issues and when they install these programs, these issue come to the users attention, usually in the form of new problems

There is another fundamental hurdle that no security or prevention software company has been able to overcome; the bad guys can reverse engineer any product to see how to get around it.

Those that are creating the new threats have the distinct advantage of being able to test them against all of the protective tools that are on the market to find ways around them.

The best time to install prevention and protection software is when your system is running smoothly, but be careful not to get too overzealous as too many or the wrong combination of utilities can noticeably slow your systems performance.

If your system is running fine and you already have protective software, switching to a free package that comes with an ISPs service is probably not in your best interest (if it ain’t broke, fix it till it is?)

If you are starting from scratch and want to switch, that’s much safer but if you are somewhere in the middle, be sure and get some help before you make a decision that could really foul things up!

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on January 20, 2006