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Support should be key feature in antivirus purchase

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2003

Q. Please tell me your opinion of the AVG antivirus 6.0 free edition. Should I pay for one of the main two antivirus products? Or is the free just as good? I know there is no tech support with the free product, but Norton antivirus (which I had) tech support is useless.

A. We have had some readers write in reporting some major installation problems with AVG. We also have had some write in with complaints regarding Symantec's Norton Antivirus. But since there are undoubtedly many more installations of Norton than AVG, I would still say the more successful and trouble-free percentages lie with Norton.

Problems with Symantec support, which is free by e-mail, have also become a common topic. If you persist hard and long enough, it will usually help you solve your problem. But this seems to be getting more and more difficult.

If you're comfortable going it alone without any support and are prepared to recover in a worst-case scenario, then AVG could be worth a try. Of course another option is paying for the supported version of AVG. I haven't had any feedback either way on AVG's paid support. And since its number of installations is much smaller than Norton, perhaps it can better deal with the support requests from its customers.

Either way, my recommendation to the general PC user is to use a product with support for something as important as an antivirus application.

Can't rock the Web

Q. My wife and I have computers side by side. Hers is a Dell laptop while mine is an IBM desktop. We both have Windows 98, version 4.10.2222A. One of the Web sites we use is, which gives us very good singalong (similar to karaoke). I do not get any sound on my IBM, while she gets the music with her Dell. I contacted the Web site and was given several suggestions that might correct the problem. None helped.

A. I went to the Web site and opened up the page that plays Wipe Out. (I wonder who wrote the lyrics to that?) Clicking on the View, Source showed that it is just using a simple BGSound referencing a MID file; nothing fancy.

Go to Tools, Internet Options and click the Advanced tab. Scroll down and look under Multimedia and make sure the "Play sounds in Web pages" option is selected.

You also can check in Control Panel, Sounds and Multimedia. Click the Audio tab and check the device selection for Midi Music Playback. Make sure it is referencing your sound card.

The only other thing I can think of is some sort of JavaScript error related to your PC-browser configuration. Check the bottom left side of your browser screen the next time you unsuccessfully try to play a tune on one of their pages. If there is an exclamation point symbol, double-click it and read the detailed error message. It may give you a clue.

Moving to a new computer

Q. I have a desktop running Windows 98 with Road Runner as the Internet service provider. I bought a Toshiba laptop with Windows XP Home, hooked up Road Runner and started Outlook Express thinking all my messages, folders and addresses would be there. I got nothing. Is there any way to import this info? The laptop has no serial port, which was one way I saw to do it.

A. As you've found out, most public ISPs use a store-and-forward type of e-mail where once you download and open the e-mail, it is gone from their mail server and exists only on your PC.

There are many ways to transfer your e-mail files to your new laptop. Here's the easiest: From your old PC, right-click the desktop and select New, Folder (name it whatever you want). Open Outlook Express. Doing one folder at a time, select and drag each e-mail to the desktop folder you just created (once you open the folder, click Edit, Select All on the menu bar to select all of your e-mail at once). Copy the contents of this folder to a diskette. Take the diskette to your XP machine, open Outlook Express, open the diskette through Windows Explorer, select all the files and drag them into the appropriate folder of Outlook Express. Repeat as necessary (remember to erase the e-mail from your desktop folder and the diskette before copying subsequent folders).

If both of your PCs are connected to your home network, you can skip the diskette copying and share your Windows 98 PC and connect from your XP laptop.

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