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Looking at my finances, it seems that home internet access (by which I mean 'however much I can get for UKP25-30') is starting to become a possibility. As a result, I need to do some research.

See, the thing is, I'm actually an internet ignoramus; I don't think I could tell you the difference between a router and a server without the help of Google. The main connections I have used are: (a) the network run by my university; (b) the network run by my dad; (c) the network run by my employer. All of which require nothing more from me than switching on my computer. And all of which come with firewalls/virus monitors/etc.

So when it comes to choosing a connection for home use, I don't know what I actually need. I know I want something fast enough to be able to obtain episodes of Angel (note to self: must also buy CD burner) in a reasonable timeframe, but I don't know what sort of connection that actually requires. I don't know how important it is for me to invest in some kind of virus protection, what kind I should be looking at or how much it would cost. I don't know which ISPs I should be looking at; Tiscali advertise what seem to be good deals, but I don't think I actually know anyone who uses them.

Anyway, the upshot of all that is: if anyone has any advice on any of the above points, I'd be glad to hear it!
 
 
 
 
 
 
I would imagine you have two options - NTL or ADSL. The advantage of NTL is that you can get a reasonable package that would include digital TV channels (so you can get Sky1 and BBC3/4). ADSL will probably be cheaper (but remember to factor in the cost of the BT phone line rental (assuming you won't use a land line for calls) - that *isn't* included in the price you pay to the ISP). ADSL Guide is the best resource for choosing a broadband ISP - they also include factors you may not immediately think of - such as customer service - as well as the obvious indicators such as speed and reliability. I would reccomend getting a wireless router/modem/firewall as IIRC you have a laptop. If you decide to just get a standard USB modem buy a personal firewall before you even think about hooking it up to the internet - there are so many windows nasties out there now you wouldn't believe it! Anti Virus is a must - but you don't have to pay for it (a lot of the commercial ones are subscription based for updates - and there is no point in having AV if you don't keep it up to date) - I use AVG which is free and very good. Speed wise you should be able to get 512k for your budget - but you may decide to get a slower speed and add TV of some kind (NTL do a 160k package which is plenty for a single PC).
I would imagine you have two options - NTL or ADSL.

Do either or both of these require more cabling than 'getting my phone line connected'?

ADSL Guide

Ta.

buy a personal firewall before you even think about hooking it up to the internet - there are so many windows nasties out there now you wouldn't believe it!

How much do they normally cost? Who makes them?

I use AVG which is free and very good.

Presumably I can't download that until I'm connected to the net... :)


I would imagine you have two options - NTL or ADSL.

Do either or both of these require more cabling than 'getting my phone line connected'?


In either case you will need a modem (or whatever) which will need to be hooked up to your PC (probably by USB).

buy a personal firewall before you even think about hooking it up to the internet - there are so many windows nasties out there now you wouldn't believe it!

How much do they normally cost? Who makes them?


They range from free to around £30 - McAfee and Symantec are the big names - but Black Ice and Zone Alarm are also common.

I use AVG which is free and very good.

Presumably I can't download that until I'm connected to the net... :)


Quite. But tbh AV - while important - is less important than having a personal firewall.....
See pikelet's recent tale of woe for an example.
are very important, but don't have to cost an arm and a leg: we use the free version of Zone Alarm and have managed to remain nasty-free during a year and a half of broadband connection.
I recently got Zone Alarm which was recommended to me by hawkida. I would say the free version is pretty good and stable, and I'm still using it.

But the for-money Pro version is a nightmare, even on the 30-day trial: it eats your RAM over the course of a few hours, until you have to shut it down to free the memory up again.

The weird thing is the free version doesn't have these problems. I don't know how they hope to make any money like that.

Get a virus checker, or get sorry.... There are some quite cheap ones out there if you only look around. You probably don't need a firewall, as long as you get someone to ensure you don't have anything nasty running.

External cd burners are quite cheap now. Hell, SVP will do you an external 8x DVD writer for about 120! Check ebay and dabs and places, you should be fine

As for the internet side - I'm guessing you already have a BT line? If so, probably best to go for ADSL. There are quite a few providers out there - paying more will get you more bandwidth (maximum speed you can download at) and/or higher/no bandwidth caps (how much you can download in a day without getting shouted at).

(If you already had something from NTL, that might be cheaper, but with a top floor place installation would be nasty. Oh, and you'd be looking at 35-40/month for 600k cable internet + phone line, so probably not worth the hassle).

Most people will ship you a usb router - plug it in under windows and hope. Better places do ethernet routers - plug in your ethernet card (as used in college) and it does the rest.

Provider wise - check out http://adslguide.org.uk for a run down. There are a few packages (eg Tiscali, and the newly announced BT one) which are quite cheap if you accept low bandwidth and caps. For new access + one episode every two weeks, these'd be fine. However, if you want more downloading than that, you'll probably want to look at a higher end package.

From reading NMA (UK internet industry rag), there are quite a few cheap providers out there which should do you fine, so things are looking good.
Unfortunately AV software doesn't stop Blaster and its clones - only a firewall will do that......
A firewall won't always stop something like blaster, it does depend on which one you get and how it prompts you for external access

Linux, on the other hand, will stop it. Annoyingly, Niall isn't that keen on it...
True - it does depend on how it is set up - but provided you block any unestablished incoming connections Blaster can't get in - even the built in XP firewall could do that. The scarey thing about Blaster was that it was completely remote....... You are right about Linux - has he ever tried a modern one like Fedora or Suse 9?
Get a virus checker, or get sorry.... There are some quite cheap ones out there if you only look around.

Any opinion on AVG (Stewart's recommendation elsethread)?

You probably don't need a firewall, as long as you get someone to ensure you don't have anything nasty running.

Someone at the ISP end, or someone I actually know looking at my computer?

External cd burners are quite cheap now. Hell, SVP will do you an external 8x DVD writer for about 120!

Your definition of 'quite cheap' is interesting... ;-)

(Yeah, yeah, I get that that's the high end.)

As for the internet side - I'm guessing you already have a BT line?

Nope. Well, there's a phone line installed, but not connected.

Most people will ship you a usb router - plug it in under windows and hope. Better places do ethernet routers - plug in your ethernet card (as used in college) and it does the rest.

Ethernet card version would be better anyway, since I'm likely to want my USB port for other things.

From reading NMA (UK internet industry rag), there are quite a few cheap providers out there which should do you fine, so things are looking good.

Great - thanks.
Ethernet card version would be better anyway, since I'm likely to want my USB port for other things.


You'll find that most cheap ISPs will provide USB. Nothing to stop you from buying something this
or this if you can stretch to it (wireless is the way to go - it really is) though.
I'd love to go wireless, but if I get that and a CD burner and factor in the installation fee, this all starts to look a bit expensive.
I don't really have any options on what virus checkers are good or not, sorry. Just don't use windows enough. As for the firewall replacement checking - needs to be someone clued up and at your computer.

Your definition of 'quite cheap' is interesting
I was mearly pointing out that laptop external burners aren't all that much. I would guess you can get a cd one for about 20-40, depending on ebay etc

Nope. Well, there's a phone line installed, but not connected.
Ah, that changes things then. Best find out if you can get NTL in your road (and if so, in your building). You'll also need to find the cheapest BT package (might take some hunting) - while the ADSL access can be provided by anyone, it has to be provided over a live BT phone (since BT provide the ADSL kit at the exchange, and route the data to your ISP).
Well, the bad news is that I can't get NTL. Or Telewest. In fact, it looks as though BT might be my only option.
I got AVG and am very happy with it. It does take a long time to check the whole system but you can go and have a cup of coffee, or let it run in the background.

I'm just ahead of you, since although I've been with Demon for years I only started having virus and spyware problems since I installed Windows 2000. So on various people's advice I got the following:

Firewall: ZoneAlarm (free, not Pro)
Virus checker: AVG
Adware/Spyware checker: AdAware
Adware/Spyware checker: Spybot

According to hawkida, either of the latter two programs miss a couple of nasties, but both together cover the field very nicely.

I use Zone Alarm (free) as a firewall and AVG (free) for virus checking. Both have kept me virus free [1] and safe from attack.

I get broadband internet access through a Telewest cable. I've no idea about all sorts of stuff like cards etc, it just plugs into the pc through a modem. I imagine 512 is plenty for downloading but it's not something I do.

[1] The only virus problems I have had were when the firewall was turned off for cable installation and when I stupidly opened a virus file through OE. *spit*
That sounds encouraging; thanks.

(Can't get Telewest round 'ere, though - in fact, looks like BT might be my only option.)
Our ISP is Eclipse, who have been excellent (they've been voted best ISP a couple of years running, I think - mainly they do business custom but they are quite happy to have domestic customers too). We pay about £25/month for ADSL, which - touch wood - has been problem-free.

We also have a wireless router/firewall/ethernet hub (all in one), which is a fantastic gizmo but cost, IIRC, a bit over £100. It's made by Netgear (we bought it from dabs.co.uk).Well worth it, although if you can get by with things like ZoneAlarm then obviously that'd be much cheaper.

Good luck, anyway :) Wireless ADSL is the best :)
Hmm. Can't check Eclipse availability until I get my phone connected (although they can supply my parents, apparently, so I'd guess they can supply me as well), but I'll bear them in mind.

And pah! I have no need of your gizmos!

Except really I do
Eclipse will probably be available anywhere that ADSL is

The real test is whether your phone line will be good enough quality for ADSL. Go to the BT website, tap in your post code, and see what that informs you. That'll be a good guide, but you'll need the physical line installed and set up for the final test on line quality
Heh.

BTW - I think the cheapest thing you can do re BT is get their "line rental only" bare-bones package for something like £9.50 a month.
What everyone else said is pretty much spot on. My thoughts would be if you can beg/steal/buy an ADSL router like was offered somewhere on the thread then do it, sharing a USB ADSL modem connection can be a real pain and it sounds like you have more than one computer that you'll be wanting to connect. The other thing is might I recomend Pipex we use them down here and they've always seemed very useful.
FWIW I am happy to come round and help you set it all up once you have got the kit and your line activated.
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