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January 18, 2006

Anonymizer for the PC

I had a chance to download and try out the two Anonymizer software packages, Anonymous Surfing and Anti-Spyware, by loading them on my PC. The real news is that these can be run on the new U3 thumb drives, which I'll review in the future.

Anonymous Surfing (click on graphics for a larger view)

Anon_surfThis is the control panel, and you can see in the lower right the main feature of this program. Your IP address is substituted with one from a pool of thousands of IP addresses on the Anonymizer's servers. The options on the left are for SSL encryption to provide extra security when using a Wi-Fi hotspot, and the Web site filtering is meant to detect those sites that contain spyware or other malicious scripts.

Using this software, you're immediately aware that Web sites load slower. But chances are you'll only turn this software on when you want to mask your IP address when accessing a specific site or when you're at a company doing research on a competitor's site.

I did encounter problems when trying to create this post on my TypePad account, and had to turn the software off in order to upload the content.

Anon_spyThere were no problems installing or using this software, and it took a total of 4 minutes to complete a Smart Scan of my hard drive (80 GB).

I did receive a prompt when I tried to visit one Web site saying that there was potentially dangerous scripts, but I'm sure whether this was the Real-time protection with ActiveX Shield feature of this program or the filtering function of the Anonymous Surfing program. And, I didn't this test this software against the better anti-spyware programs.

All in all, I can the installation process for both of these programs was non-problematic. It is easy enough to use the control panel to turn these on and off, or to initiate a anti-spyware scan. And, you can reliably (so far as I've tested) depend on your IP address being masked when you so desire. I wouldn't leave this feature on all the time when doing general Web surfing because it does slow down the loading of Web pages, but it's  useful when you need to do some anonymous research. You have to be aware, however, that if a Web site has placed a cookie on your computer, you will be identified.

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