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Solutions: Antivirus, firewall and updates protect your system security

I may have given out more personal information to an acquaintance than I should have. He even asked what kind of system security product I use. This person is a computer engineer with a knowledge of hacking. I have since blocked his home and business computers from access to my computer and changed all of my access codes to the most obscure questions possible. I also subscribe to Microsoft's automatic recommended systems updates. Can you recommend any more ways I can protect my documents, financial accounts and identity?

You seem to have taken the right steps in securing at least your computing environment. An up-to-date antivirus, the Windows firewall and the latest security updates are a starting point. I like the new security features in Internet Explorer 8, as well, and consider it an important update. When you take part in an online transaction that requires personal or financial information, make sure you know who you are dealing with and that the Web address begins with https (for example, https://www.paypal.com/). Many of these sites will also have Extended Validation SSL certificates that help assure the Web site really is what it says it is. An explanation of what to look for can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ev/default.mspx. Of course, this is just a one aspect of guarding your identity. There are pay-for services that cover more. Do an online search for "Identity Theft" to get a list of offerings.

I have a Dell Dimension 4550 with Microsoft Windows XP and an HP printer. The printer copies fine, but it will not print from the computer. We've tried reinstalling the HP disc. It'll do fine for about three-quarters of the reinstallation, then a popup tells us that the installation could not be completed due to an error. That same error message comes up when I click "print" on the computer.

Since you didn't specify the exact error message, I'm limited to some general troubleshooting tips: First try uninstalling the printer, but instead of reinstalling from the CD, download the latest version from HP's support Web site. Also, check your USB connection and try using a different USB cable (borrow, don't buy one until you know this is the issue).

I just purchased a three-disc Street Atlas USA 2007 by DeLorme. When I insert Disc 1, the following message comes up: "[dotnetfx.exe].ServicePack is missing from the setup.ini file." My system is Windows XP Home Service Pack 2. How can I fix this?

You'll just need to install the latest version of .NET. You can find it at the Microsoft Downloads Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads). Search for DotNet and then click the link for the .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package. Choose the Repair option, if available. Otherwise, accept the license agreement and continue with the installation of dotnetfx.exe. When that completes, install the Street Atlas USA software.

Vista tip: So many new features came with Microsoft Windows Vista that some helpful ones are easily overlooked. One such feature is the Health Checkup. Go to Control Panel, System and Maintenance, Performance Information and Tools. Click Advanced Tools under Tasks and then click Generate a system health report. After a few minutes, you'll be presented with an extensive report on all facets of your system.

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Antivirus, firewall and updates protect your system security 06/07/09 [Last modified: Sunday, June 7, 2009 4:30am]
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