Definite downloads

There are literally hundred of software programs and applications out there that are free for the taking that are absolute must-haves. You need them to enjoy the Web, to upgrade your system, to improve the performance of your computer, and, in some cases, to fix problems with your existing set-up that you probably didn’t even know you had.

If you’ve purchased or downloaded the new Windows XP operating system, congratulations – you’re in possession of the best rated operating system in the world. Unfortunately, XP was also written with "the worst default security vulnerability in Windows ever," according to Marc Maiffret, the hacking officer for eEye, in an interview with ZDNet ( .

The security hole also exists in Windows ME, if the UPnP feature is turned on, and in Window 98 Second Edition if you downloaded the UPnP feature.

UPnP, which stands for Universal Plug and Play, is a Microsoft invention that allows devices like computers, scanners, and printers to find each other and communicate.

A hacker, disguised as a printer, could infiltrate your system, reading files and deleting files, or causing denial of service attacks.

This download software patch is a MUST!

While you’re there, you might want to get the Cumulate patch for Internet Explorer 5.5 and 6.0 – this one’s listed as a critical.

Faster Internet Downloads

While the biggest bottleneck to fast downloads is definitely bandwith, there are a number of speedbumps built into Windows Operating Systems that slow the whole process down.

Go to , and select downloads. Choose "Accelerate your surfing" to see the whole range of small programs that are available to help you maximize your downloads. While you’re there, there are add-ons to make your Outlook Express more useful.

They also have a Downloads Directory that’s chock-full of links to Shareware and Freeware. You have to know what you’re looking for, but this site can direct you to anything.

Or check out the Top 20 Downloads, which is updated weekly. For the week ending Dec. 21, the top five downloads are FireEyes 1.0, which allows you to see who is connected to your PC at any given time; Yahoo Messenger 5.0 instant messaging software; Zero Popup 1.35, which puts an end to those annoying popup advertisements; ZoneAlarm 2/62/362, which protects your Internet connection from hackers; and 3D Christmas in the City Screensaver.

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