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Web Browsing Tools & Utilities May 2, 2009

Posted by twiznc in Services & Software Recommendations.

Updated March 6, 2016

This article provides an overview of some of the most web-surfing tools including safe-surfing tools, ad blocking tools, Internet connection speed tests, popular password management apps, and automatic online form completion tools.

MCAFEE WEBADVISOR (Free Download) – Regardless of which web browser you use, you can surf the web more safely by installing McAfee’s WebAdvisor add-on.  WebAdvisor will monitor search results and warn you if you navigate to a dangerous website.  It also has the ability to monitor your system status for the most common Antivirus and Firewall products (not just McAfee Antivirus and Firewall). This enables SiteAdvisor to tell you if the service is turned off or if you do not have any anti-virus product installed.  It also allows you to fix or accept the risk for any warnings that appear in WebAdvisor’s dashboard. It will monitor downloads for malware, and even checks your passwords against a list of common passwords – the same list that many hackers use to try to “brute force” hack your accounts to warn you if your password needs to be changed to reduce the risk of it being hacked.  NOTE: In Internet Explorer, WebAdvisor works in headless mode. In this mode, no toolbar is displayed unless there is a problem detected on your installed security product (for example, the Firewall, or Real time scanning is turned off). Product settings can be changed from Internet Explorer’s Tool menu (the cog wheel at the top right).

AD MUNCHER (Free Download) – Although Internet Explore (and most other browsers) as well as the popular Google Toolbar have a built-in “pop-up blocker” function, Ad Muncher will remove almost all of the ads from web pages, including not just “pop-up” ads but “floating” ads, animated ads, video ads and more.  It even eliminates the “commercials” that normally play before an embedded video plays within a website.  Ad Muncher works in all major web browsers (except Microsoft Edge) and can speed up your web surfing because it blocks the “graphics intensive” ads that normally slow down the loading of a web page.  We highly recommend Ad Muncher.

INTERNET SPEED TESTS (Free) – Are you getting the speed that your Internet Service Provider promised?  Want to know just how fast (or how slow) your computer surfs the web?  If so, you need to perform an Internet speed test.  Although many can be found on the Internet, we recommend that if Time Warner/RoadRunner is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that you use the Time Warner Cable Speed Test.  Users with AT&T/Bellsouth as their ISP can use the AT&T Speed Test.  We recommend that users with other ISPs (or RoadRunner and AT&T users who want a “second opinion”) use either the SpeakEasy Speed Test or the PC Pitstop Speedtest.  Arguably the best speed test is the one at DSLReports.com.  For the best assessment of your internet connectivity speed we recommend performing the test when no other programs are accessing the internet, no “web radios” or web-based videos are playing, and no files are being downloaded to or uploaded from your computer.  We also recommend performing several speed tests over a period of time using more than one speed test to get the best assessment of your connectivity speed.

PASSWORD MANAGEMENT AND AUTOMATIC FORM FILLERS OVERVIEW– Although Internet Explorer can “remember” passwords and information entered into forms completed on web sites, and the popular Google Toolbar has a function to automatically fill forms and enter credit card information, the functionality of these features is limited in both programs and is not very secure (especially from other users of your PC).

KEEPASS (Free Download) – For simple yet secure password management we recommend KeePass.  Keepass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, so you only have to remember one single master password. The database is encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish). For more information, see the features page.

ROBOFORM ($29.95 one-time purchase for Windows or Mac; $9.95/year for one license covering all of your computers and mobile devices) – RoboForm makes logging into Web sites and filling forms faster, easier, and more secure. RoboForm memorizes and securely stores each user name and password the first time you log into a site, then automatically supplies them when you return. RoboForm’s powerful Logins feature eliminates the manual steps of logging into any online account. With just one click RoboForm will navigate to a Web site, enter your username and password and click the submit button for you.  Completing long registration or checkout forms is also a breeze. Simply click on your RoboForm Identity and RoboForm fills-in the entire form for you, even allowing you to choice which securely “memorized” credit card to use. You no longer need to remember all your passwords. You remember one Master Password, and RoboForm remembers the rest. This allows you to use stronger passwords, making your online experience more secure.  We highly recommend Roboform as a tool that once you start to use, you won’t want to browse the Internet without.

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