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New to DSL

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by Phil T, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Jan 9, 2005 #1 of 20
    Phil T

    Phil T Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    Since I couldn't get a credit from DirecTV for a HD TIVO :) I decided to upgrade my internet access to DSL instead.

    I have always had dial up (most recently Juno and People PC). I have used AVG antivirus, AD aware for spyware protection and Zone alarm for a firewall. All seemed to work well but the long dial up downloads were annoying to keep everything up to date.

    I now have Qwest DSL with MSN Premium. Earthlink and Comcast were my only other two options in my area at a higher cost.

    So far I am happy with the speed and ease of use. I installed the McAfee antivirus and firewall that came with the service and did away with AVG and Zone Alarm.

    It seems strange to be logged on all the time, Is there anything else I should be doing to protect the computer?

    I notice I can bypass MSN just by opening up Internet Explorer. That seems strange since I thought I would have to be signed in to surf.

    I leave the computer on most of the day and only turn it off at night. I guess it just seems very vulnerable to me. Should I shut down when I am not using it? It seems you should be able to turn the DSL modem off.

    Any thoughts or advise is appreciated.
     
  2. Jan 9, 2005 #2 of 20
    homeskillet

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    If you have an up-to-date firewall and anti-virus protection I wouldn't loose sleep at night over it. I've had broadband internet for a few years now and I never really had any issue with leaving it on. I do turn my computer off at night right now because it is getting old and it makes a lot of noise for when you are trying to sleep. When I get a new one I'll probably leave it on or in hibernation mode.

    I use Norton Firewall & Anti-Virus and I'm really happy with it. The live updates don't take but a second or two and they run in the background. I think you will enjoy your DSL service.

    Also, the cable modem is what signs you into the service. The MSN portal software is just for those who are not comfortable using the internet. SBC Yahoo! DSL has the same thing, but I just ignore it and use Internet Explorer or FireFox.
     
  3. Jan 9, 2005 #3 of 20
    pez2002

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    well i had comcast for a year and that was $63 a month now i have dsl 31.99 a month it works fine and the price is right
     
  4. Jan 9, 2005 #4 of 20
    Phil T

    Phil T Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    I know Comcast is faster but costs a lot more here. They also charge $10.00 a month more if you don't get TV through them. The plan I have through Qwest is $26.99 a month. I get 3 months free from Best Buy since I ordered through them.

    I can now get rid of my second phone line that I had for dial up, I am debating about getting phone service for broadband since it seems like it could save me more $$. We have VOIP where I work and it works well. I would be interested in hearing how AT&T CallVantage or Vonage works from any of you that have it.
     
  5. Jan 9, 2005 #5 of 20
    TerryC

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    I keep my computer on all the time during the day and turn it off at bedtime, too. No problems doing that using Norton AV, Zone Alarm and Spybot.
     
  6. Jan 9, 2005 #6 of 20
    SimpleSimon

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    Phil: "MSN" is NOT required and you should uninstall it. The DSL modem provides a standard IP interface, and the Qwest/MSN GARBAGE is not needed.

    Same goes for McAfee software, which has been going downhill since John (a neighbor) sold the company.

    Make sure you uninstall the GARBAGE that Juno & PeoplePC installed.

    Note: You should get a copy of WinSockFix before doing this - the spyware installed by Juno and PPC will often disable your networking when uninstalled.

    REinstall AVG (v7) and AdAware. Add Spybot S&D and SpywareBlaster. These programs all work differently, and unfortunately, ALL are needed. Trust me - I do this literally 10-20 times a week.

    You haven't said what Windows version you have. If XP, run Windows Updates until you have ServicePack 2 - which includes a decent FireWall. ZoneAlarm is NOT necessary, but if you insist on using it, make SURE you disable the Windows FW. We install ZA on all non-XP systems.

    As for leaving the system connected, my PCs are left on 24/7. Your system can be attacked whether you are there or not - don't worry about it if you take my above advice regarding anti-spyware.

    Finally, KEEP running your Windows Updates until there i nothing left. If XP, use "Custom/Advanced" mode. On occassion, I have run into trouble with device drivers downloaded this way, so be careful with THAT part of it.
     
  7. Jan 9, 2005 #7 of 20
    Phil T

    Phil T Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    SimpleSimon,

    Thanks for the info.

    I had no problems uninstalling the Juno and People PC programs. I have not noticed any problems since the uninstall (last Wednesday). I have done most of what you recommended. I have had Service Pack 2 for quite a while and one of the first things I did when I got the DSL was make sure I was up to date with Windows. I am running XP.

    I am not familiar with Spybot so I need to get up to speed and read a little more about it before I download, The MSN is part of the Qwest package and I do find it pretty useless, but I did set it up so my teenage daughters could access their Hotmail accounts. It looks like I need to rethink my antivirus because I thought the included McAfee products would be better then the AVG.
     
  8. Jan 9, 2005 #8 of 20
    Steve Mehs

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    In addition to what Simon said, especially removing the Juno and people PC crap, I would get a router. Putting yourself behind a router with the firewall enabled will greatly reduce any risks. Plus this way if you want to expand in the future with another PC your all set to go. The only reason why I bother to use Zone Alarm any more is because of the program control, there are a few programs that I don't want accessing the internet and I have denied them permission to do so, otherwise I'd ditch it.

    Personally what I’d do is download service pack 2 for XP, burn it to CD and then to a complete reformat or sys restore. Who knows what affects the stuff People PC and Juno infected you with will have on your PC after service pack 2 is installed. Plus since you just got a nice internet connection why not ensure the rest of your PC running great After the reformat, install SP2 right away then proceed to download any more Windows Updates. Then install the rest of your stuff and download the updates for the security programs
     
  9. Jan 9, 2005 #9 of 20
    Phil T

    Phil T Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    Steve, it looks like you and I posted about the same time.

    Since networking is new to me what exactly is a router?

    I purchased a Actiontec GT701-WG "wireless gateway" from Qwest. It is hooked up via Ethernet cable to the PC and into the phone line. It supports 802 11B & G. Is this considered a router?

    Since my girls are heading into college this fall and going to be living at home, I assume this will allow for a couple of wireless laptops with the proper hardware.
     
  10. TerryC

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    Why is Zone Alarm unnecessary? Is the Windows firewall that good? I want to uninstall ZA if it's redundant software.
     
  11. SimpleSimon

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    Steve: Your XP-SP2 method can cause upgrade problems on SOME systems, and it means you have to reinstall all your applications.

    I recommend scrubbing down the machine (pulling HDD and mounting as a data drive elsewhere if needed), run WinUpdate until SP2 shows up (problems occur if Wondows isn't updated enough to take SP2 - and there's no warning!), then load the SP2 CD (if available - else download), THEN, continue running WinUpdate until there's nothing more. This usually takes AT LEAST 3 cycles.

    Make sure you run some AntiVirus program updates both before and after SP2 so the A-V will recognize the new interfaces to Windows Security.

    You DID remind me to recommend that the Windows System Restore be turned off (My Computer, Properties, System Restore) - some stuff has managed to find ways into the restore points, so you actually shoot yourself in the foot when you use it. :(

    Phil T: As I suspected, you already have a hardware firewall built into the ActionTec. Steve is from elsewhere and didn't know that it's the standard Qwest DSL setup. ;)

    Yes, it's a router. Check your IP address and Gateway address - I'll bet they both start with 192.168 - which is good. And yes, the wireless laptops will work just fine. Make sure you secure your WiFi network, tho. :)

    Terry C: Never run two software firewalls - it causes trouble. The SP2 one is just fine and less intrusive than ZoneAlarm. Of course, some people would rather see the alarms - to each their own.
     
  12. HappyGoLucky

    HappyGoLucky Banned User

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    One issue that some people have with the builtin firewall that Microsoft includes in XP (and even the updated one in SP2) is that it is "incoming only". It does not filter any outgoing connections from your computer. Of course, if your antivirus and anti-spyware and anti-trojan defenses are current and operational, that shouldn't be an issue. But the XP firewall would do nothing to stop a trojan or virus or other malware from using your computer to contact some other system or systems on the net, while full-featured firewalls DO filter both incoming AND outgoing communications.

    So, it just depends upon how "safe" you feel. If you think your antivirus and anti-spyware software is doing a good job, then the builtin XP firewall should be plenty sufficient.

    Personally, I don't run ANY software firewalls on my XP-SP2 system since my router (a D-Link DI-524) has a pretty robust firewall built in that is highly configurable for my needs and has both incoming and outgoing filtering.
     
  13. Danny R

    Danny R Goblin the Pug DBSTalk Gold Club

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    It does not filter any outgoing connections from your computer.

    Not entirely true. One thing I discovered while trying to fix my computer this weekend is that XP SP2 does put a limit on outgoing TCP/IP connections, only allowing 10 within a certain time span before disabling networking. The purpose of this is that if you do get infected, your computer shuts off networking rather than spread a virus.

    Unfortunately it also interferes with some legitimate programs (such as Torrents), but there are patches available to get around this.
     
  14. HappyGoLucky

    HappyGoLucky Banned User

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    That has nothing to do with the firewall though. Microsoft put this limit as a hardcoded entry into the TCP/IP dlls. It does interfere significantly with various softwares, including P2P, IM, video conferencing, etc. The patch software that can be found online works well, though, changing the hardcoded value of "10" to some other more reasonable number (like 50).
     
  15. cdru

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    Since you already have a gateway router, a software router is really a matter of preference. The router will block incoming connections just by the nature of how it works, so you don't have to worry about the outside coming in. It likely won't block the inside getting out. Spyware et al can still "phone home". This is where a software firewall can be beneficial. I personally don't currently run on. I haven't had a problem in the past (knock on wood). But I also know what runs on my machine. If you have kids that download lots of stuff or use P2P, then it would be wise to run both a hardware and software.

    I would not use Microsoft's built in firewall, SP1 or SP2. Remember the source of all the vulnerabilities in the first place. Yeah. Microsoft. Do you REALLY trust them to get the firewall right? A 3rd party solution likely will have more features, less security problems, and perform better. But, if you must, Microsoft's firewall is better then nothing.

    I would also head over to DSLReports.com and check out the Tweaks forum as well as the forum for your provider. This will help maximize your download speeds. The default network settings for Windows are often quite conservative and you can improve significantly over it. With installing PeoplePC and Juno, your networking settings likely are fubared anyways.
     
  16. TerryC

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    My Windows firewall is disabled. I don't remember doing that so I suppose ZA did it for me??? Anyway I want to make it clear that I'm using the full purchased Zone Alarm, not the free barebones version. Is it still no better than Windows's firewall? Or is it six of one, half dozen of the other?
     
  17. SimpleSimon

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    As others have said, if you've been sloppy and gotten infected, things like ZoneAlarm will help protect the rest of the world. ZA probably DID turn off the Windows FW. You can use the WinXP SecurityCenter in Control Panel to check it out.

    Oh - and cdru - you'd be surprised at what's actually in the M$ firewall. Not that it's much - firewalls are pretty darn easy to implement.
     
  18. cdru

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    I know they are fairly easy to implement. The problem I have is more a matter of trust. Look at all the problems Microsoft has caused in the IT world by so tightly integrating their web browser into the OS. One significant bug in the browser can have significant ramifications for the entire system.I personally would prefer a firewall that was meant to be a firewall, not a band-aid feature to an OS. If a bug is found in a 3rd party firewall such as zone alarm, it usually gets fixed fairly quickly and released. With Microsoft, you may get it sooner...or later...or not at all.

    But as I said before, it is definitely better then nothing at all.
     
  19. HappyGoLucky

    HappyGoLucky Banned User

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    I forget who actually wrote the MS Firewall, but it wasn't Microsoft. They purchased the firewall code from a third party and simply incorporated it into WinXP. It was significantly upgraded to a far more robust implementation in SP2. About the only thing it doesn't do compared to other firewall programs is the outgoing communication blocks. But again, as long as your other security functions are operational and current, outgoing blocks are not that big of a deal.

    For most users, the builtin firewall in WinXP-SP2 is plenty sufficient as long as they also have a well-maintained antivirus and anti-spyware/adware system.

    Having a hardware firewall, as is in some routers (like my D-Link model) is even better since that is one less tax on your main computer system, no need to run a software firewall eating up CPU/memory.
     
  20. SimpleSimon

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    What HGL said. ;)

    Plus cdru, that tight integration is a double-edged sword - it's also the exact same feature that makes many applications so nice to use.

    And it's NOT the browser that's the issue, it's the communications interfaces.
     

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