Personal Backup X, NetBarrier X, VirusBarrier X

Introduction

Intego is amassing quite a battery of utilities for OS X. The latest releases are NetBarrier, Virus Barrier and Personal Backup. Personal Backup Like all Intego software, this is very easy to use. There is little cause to send you scurrying for a manual, as everything is intuitive. Simply drag the folder or volume you want to backup to one side of the window, and drag the destination to the other. Then hit backup, and off it goes. If you want to schedule backups, backup multiple files, or do anything complicated, you need to write a script. This is done using a wizard that guides you through the process. There are weaknesses in the system, though. It can back up to any volume, including CD-R by using OS X’s integral burning capabilities. However, it isn’t very sophisticated. Unlike the more-expensive Dantz Retrospect Desktop, Personal Backup doesn’t include device drivers. That means direct control over CDs, tapes, or anything that needs a driver isn’t going to happen. It also means that Personal Backup doesn’t know what to do when a target device doesn’t have enough room for the backup. Another niggle is the advertised keystroke-recording capability isn’t OS X compatible. NetBarrier This is a suite of utilities in one application, all aimed at securing an Internet connection. In times past, Internet security wasn’t so important. Slow modem connections are fairly safe, and even if a hacker did get through to a machine, you most likely wouldn’t be online long enough for any damage to happen. With always-on broadband – particularly the wires-only self-install options – there are more opportunities left for hackers. NetBarrier is a firewall, anti-vandal and filtering package. You can decide exactly what kind of Internet signals you’ll accept, and which to deny. For example, you can block access for Timbuktu or Apple Remote Access, so casual hackers can’t try to take control. The anti-vandal measures include protection from ping attacks, port scans (used to find weaknesses in a firewall) and even a stealth mode that stops a machine replying when pinged. The privacy measures include a banned data filter that stops things such as your credit-card number, email address or any other personal information leaving a computer. This would mean that even if a hacker got total control of a machine, any attempt to look at a credit-card number would fail. You also have the opportunity to block adverts while browsing the Internet. I’m not generally bothered by advertising on the Internet, except for the more obnoxious pop-ups (see www.latimes.com). But if you want an ad-free world, then you can block many of them with NetBarrier. Oddly, pages load slower because the browser is waiting for blocked ad graphics. If you’re keen to keep surfing activities private, you can use NetBarrier to stop cookies being transmitted, or to delete any you may have accumulated while you browse. It can also stop a browser telling Web sites the last site visited. VirusBarrier If the features of NetBarrier haven’t made you paranoid enough, then VirusBarrier will worry you some more. VirusBarrier scans drives, or any attached media, for viruses. I’ve never worried about virus infection, and have seen only a handful of viruses in my 20-plus years of computing. I’ve been infected twice. The only ones I’ve seen recently are macro viruses, and they’re very easy to avoid. Microsoft Office gives a pretty clear warning if you try to open an infected file, though people do ignore it. This attitude may sound reckless, but there’s no significant threat from viruses. It’s more embarrassing than destructive to find you have a Word macro virus. But if you have VirusBarrier, then at least you have a way of getting rid of it. VirusBarrier lacks the ability to scan incoming email – the most-likely delivery method for a virus.
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