Secure your PC and your data with these 15 free downloads and services.

When it comes to locking down your PC and ensuring both the machine and your data on it are secure, you may think that its going to be a costly exerice, one which your wallet won't forget in a hurry.

However, you can do it all for free with the help of these 15 downloads and services.

Lock down your PC

Passwords play a prominent role not just in computing but also in everyday life. Download KeePass to organise and protect all manner of important data, from you credit card PIN to web passwords.

You need remember only a single password - this download remembers the rest.

OpenDNS promises to protect your kids from online violence, pornography, phishing and more. Guess what? It works.

Even better, there's nothing to install. Simply sign up and point your PCs or router to the OpenDNS servers, and presto: bulletproof protection.

Its name is a bit over the top, but SuperAntiSpyware is a robust, legitimate malware fighter. This download runs in the background and staves off and removes even the nastiest attacks.

Clicking any link that you find on the web - even one at the top of a Google search page - can lead to a spyware infestation.

The free browser plug-in Web of Trust vets the links you click. Green means good, red means bad. Simple.

PC Advisor tested: free antivirus programs

We've also rounded up four of the best free security suites, which were tested by ourselves too.

Alwil Avast Home Edition

  • Pro: Capable malware detection
  • Con: Confusing interface
  • Bottom line: Solid antimalware protection.

AVG Free Edition 8.5

  • Pro: Good PC disinfection
  • Con: Slow on-demand scans
  • Bottom line: Useful blocking of web-based attacks.

Avira AntiVir Personal

  • Pro: Excellent detection, disinfection process
  • Con: Interface not novice-friendly
  • Bottom line: Thorough protection and top-notch scan speed.

Microsoft Security Essentials

  • Pro: Nearly perfect in disabling infections
  • Con: Somewhat slow
  • Bottom line: An effective utility.

NEXT PAGE: Workhorse programs to keep your data safe

  1. Protect your PC and back-up your files
  2. Workhorse programs to keep your data safe

Secure your PC and your data with these 15 free downloads and services.

Workhorse programs to keep your data safe

Avoid data disasters with these seven downloads and services.

Sure, you regularly back up local data. But what about Facebook contacts, Twitter feeds and Flickr photos?

If you don't trust the cloud, sign up for Backupify to get 1GB of storage, weekly backups of all your online accounts, and the ability to download your backups to your PC.

Macrium Reflect Free Edition images your hard drive so that you can restore your system in the event of a disaster. This download can run automatically at set times, too.

The utility's seemingly straightforward interface requires some understanding of the XML data format, however.

Windows Live SkyDrive gives you 25GB of free online storage, and SDExplorer lets you access that storage right from Windows Explorer.

No more wrangling Live SkyDrive's rather awkward web-based interface - this extension provides drag-and-drop simplicity for file management.

Like Windows' own System Restore, Comodo Time Machine can roll back your PC to an earlier state.

However, this download does more than just protect the Registry and your system files. It backs up files, folders and programs, as well. Windows won't load? Press the Home key while booting to access all of CTM's roll-back features.

SpiderOak gives you 2GB of free online backup space, a perfect amount for preserving small batches of data such as Word documents or Quicken files.

This download runs in the background, saving your selected files whenever it detects changes, so you can set it and forget it. Plus, the software can archive data stored on network drives.

Courtesy of Microsoft, SyncToy syncs files between two home-network locations, such as a desktop and a laptop, or a flash drive and a network folder.

Just choose a 'left' and 'right' folder and specify a few sync settings; this little-known utility does the rest.

Compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7, the Todo Backup download creates an image of your entire hard drive or an individual partition.

You can restore that backup from within Windows or via a bootable CD, which the download will burn for you. Note: This tool has no scheduling option.

See also: 11 hidden security threats and how to stop them

  1. Protect your PC and back-up your files
  2. Workhorse programs to keep your data safe