CyberNotes
Free for All Friday
 

There are several different things that you can do to keep your computer safe from viruses, hackers, and other privacy issues.  One of the most essential forms of protection is an Anti-Virus, however you don’t have to stop there. Any extra layer of protection that you can add makes you computer that much safer. One of those extra layers that you can add is called BufferZone, a product of Trustware.




BufferZone is another solution to Internet Security and works by creating a virtual environment for you to run some of the most vulnerable applications like web browsers, P2P, and Instant Message programs.  A virtual environment means that your Internet downloads work in quarantine (like a compartment), never impacting your computer.  Think of it as a computer within a computer.

They offer three different versions; one that’s free (which I’ll be reviewing), BufferZone Pro which is offered for a 30-day trial or for $29.95, and an Enterprise edition. The free version will probably be suitable for any typical Internet user and does all of the important, essential functions like keeping your PC safe from viruses, adware, and the like.

Any program that is running the virtual BufferZone can never attack your PC.  If there’s hidden code within files like an Office document, or a screen saver file, you’re completely protected. If you’re one of those that downloads a lot from the Internet, this could save you a lot of hassle.

Downloading the free version is simple.  It’s an 8.7 MB download, and the installation process is real quick. After you’ve installed the program, you’ll have to re-start your computer.  Following installation, BufferZone creates a virtual environment to run applications. When your computer re-starts, you’ll be taken through a quick tutorial which guides you through the process (pictured below- click to enlarge).

                                         

To indicate to the user that something is running in BufferZone, it will have a red border around it (pictured below).  For example, if you download a program, it will place the file in the “virtual” directory specified by BufferZone.  When you double click to open the download, you’ll see a red border around the program or file icon.  This tells you the download is running in Buffer Zone.While it may appear that your hard disk was modified with the new download, it wasn’t.  New programs will not modify anything on your hard disk or on your system.  They are all simulated in virtual mode.

Now, you may be wondering what you’d do if you didn’t want to open a program within the BufferZone.  They’ve made it very easy to do. All you have to do to release something out of BufferZone and onto your computer is right click, and select “Release from BufferZone.”

Another important feature is the capability to uninstall programs from within the BufferZone.  On the BufferZone Management Screen that can be accessed via the system tray icon, you can completely empty the BufferZone which will clean the BufferZone registry, and virtual files.

There are a few limitations that you might come across with the free version.  First of all, if you’re using the virtual environment to run a web browser, you are limited to a single protection. You can choose from:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Maxthon
  • Opera
  • Avant
  • Download-Accelerator

You’ll also notice that access to the “policy” and “firewall” sections are only available to users of the Pro version.

In order to use buffer zone, you’ll need to have Windows XP installed with Service Pack 2 or later.  You’ll also need Pentium 3 or higher, 300 MHz, 20 MB of hard drive space, and 128 MB of RAM.  This was tested on Windows XP, so Vista compatibility is unknown.

The best indicator that a program is running in the BufferZone is the red border around the application’s icon, and window.  Another sure indicator is the .virtual extension you’ll find after every file that relates to the program that you downloaded and installed. You’ll always know whether or not a program is running within BufferZone.

Overall I was really impressed with BufferZone, especially because it’s simple and easy for just about anybody to understand.  You can never have too many layers of protection in place to keep the contents of your computer safe. More details, and the downloads of BufferZone from Trustware can be found here.