Download This: Keep Your PC Safe and Efficient

Your PC holds a great deal of data, but there's room for improvement. It could use space and bandwidth more efficiently, and there's simply no such thing as too much security. This month, we look at a Firefox security extension, an update to a favorite file-compression utility, and a tool that turns your PC into a secure repository for electronic while-you-were-gone messages. Each arrives as a free trial, and one remains free forever.

Hold the JavaScript ... I'm Just Browsing

JavaScript helps you make great use of the Web; but in the wrong hands, it lets the Web make use of you. PC World's own Dennis O'Reilly gives solid advice for blocking JavaScript in both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox. His prescribed Firefox fix, NoScript, adds so many security options it's worth going over them here in more detail.

Like any other Mozilla extension, NoScript installs directly into Firefox or Mozilla. It works in the new Mozilla-based Flock browser as well. It installs a small icon in your browser's status bar; this icon tells you when you're blocking JavaScript.

I particularly liked NoScript's ability to let you allow partial permissions or blocking, or authorize a site to use JavaScript indefinitely or for just that session. NoScript also gives you the option to block not just JavaScript, but Flash and other plug-ins.

NoScript is free. You can help the cause by making a donation to software author Giorgio Maone.

Easier Zipping With a Revamped Winner

Many file compression utilities offer a my-way-or-the-highway interface that you could envision in a dictionary as an example for the word unintuitive. WinZip makes file compression easier with new interface options in WinZip Standard 10.0.

The Classic interface remains much as longtime WinZip users remember, but new options have sneaked in. The View Style option shows your files in a Windows-Explorer-like tree view that's a breeze to navigate. If you're a fan of the wizard, don't despair; it's still here, too, enabling fast zipping and e-mailing of files.

Of course, the real reason we use zip utilities at all is to make things smaller. WinZip's new PPMd and Bzip2 compression technologies squish files into more compact zips than we've seen in the past. In these data-plump times, when multiple-gig hard drives just don't seem sufficient, every little byte counts.

Note, however, that PPMd compression is new to WinZip 10, so for now only other users of the new version of WinZip will be able to unpack files created using PPMd. Bzip2 is not quite as new; WinZip 9 can unpack (but not create) Bzip2 files, and it's supported by other file compression utilities. Bottom line: If you're compressing files to send to someone else, make sure the recipient's zip utility can work with the formats and technologies you're using.

WinZip Standard is free to use for 45 days. At the end of this trial period, it costs $30 to keep the program. If the ability to zip directly to CD or make automated zip backups sounds useful to you, check out the $50 Pro version.

Leave a Message on My PC

When you're away from your desk, people who want to talk to you can leave a handwritten note on your desk (or your chair, or your monitor)--but you might not notice it. In fact, it might drift away, or someone else might see it before you do.

If your co-workers could leave secure notes on your PC, you'd be far more likely to get them when you returned. Enter X-Screen Board, which turns your PC into a message board that only you can view.

When you run the program, your monitor displays a plain black screen with a notice inviting those who stop by to type their name and a message into a form, then click "OK" to pin the note to your virtual bulletin board. Every time someone clicks "OK," the message fields blank out and the message tally bumps up a number. When you return to your desk, you can see how many messages have been left, but you can view them only by entering your password in the on-screen keypad.

The trial version is good for 10 days and works only with the original (rather obvious) password. To keep using the program after 10 days, and to change the password, register the software for $15.

PC World Senior Associate Editor Andrew Brandt and Senior Downloads Producer Max Green contributed to this story.

Thoughts on these programs? Has your favorite evaded the clutches of our Downloads library? E-mail your comments to Laura Blackwell. URLs are welcome, but messages with file attachments will be deleted unread. Vendors seeking coverage for their software should submit the files with PC World's file submission tool before sending e-mail.

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