Should the Average Home User Make the Upgrade?
There are four top dogs in the operating system race: Windows, Linux, the Mac, and the litter of the pack - Novell. The bulk of the 64-bit operating system hype comes from large corporations, developers, and businesses that depend on performance. Therefore, each of these leading operating system manufacturers has shown little interest in developing a 64-bit operating system for home users.
Times are changing, however, as more and more people are seeing the need to switch over to a 64-bit platform. First off, speed would dramatically increase, as a 64-bit machine can store and retrieve information much faster than a 32-bit counterpart. While the main need for this type of speed increase is for science, development, and engineering - take a look around. More and more people are starting to become much more tech savvy, and interested in performance-hungry applications such as Adobe Photoshop, or even video games.There certainly are a few points of interest that make the average home user stuck between the 32-bit platform and the 64-bit platform.
Benefits, Benefits, Benefits!
One of the main benefits is that viruses, malware, and destructive software created by hackers will often only work on 32-bit platforms. This is because the 64-bit platform is relatively new and much less used. While this holds true, a firewall is still of course needed since some malicious coders have written viruses for 64-bit users, just to prove it could be done.
Sun Microsystems, one of the leaders in the tech industry, has made an interesting analogy on the subject of 64-bit and 32-bit operating systems. Imagine the billions of people who live in the world - it’s a rather big number isn’t it! Sun Microsystems claims that if a 32-bit operating system could keep track of the name and address of everyone in the world it could go back to as far as 1997. In the same circumstances, Sun Microsystems claims that the 64-bit operating system could do the same thing only go as far back as the beginning of time. Obviously, this is a testament to just how much more powerful the upgrade would let home users take advantage of. With this added power, imagine how quick those virus scans and firewall commands would speed up! This would also enable firewalls to do more with less time.
And, The Pit-Falls
If you could make the switch to a 64-bit operating system after hearing about the great performance increase, would you? Don’t be so sure just yet! Many applications were designed just for the 32-bit environment. This means that programs, video games, and even firewalls might not work on the 64-bit framework. Don’t worry - Microsoft has already come up with a solution with WOW64. This stands for “Windows on Windows 64-bit”. This will essentially let 64-bit users have access to 32-bit programs - let’s hope the other top dogs follow suit.
And lastly, it will take a little extra dough to get the added functionality. 64-bit operating systems will of course take advantage of high performance computer parts - such as the process or memory slots. For the best performance, that requires even more money to be spent - so it’s likely the upgrade will take a healthy sum of money. Some of the firewall manufacturers have even made separate versions of their products, with the sole difference in adding 64-bit support. On average, this will likely cost more money than the 32-bit versions.
Obviously, the decision is up to you whether or not the benefits and pit falls outweigh each other.
I Made the Upgrade to 64-Bit! What Firewall Should I Get?
Congratulations! Now that you’ve upgraded to the 64-bit platform, you may have to do a little extra shopping around. There are two different types of firewalls available for the 64-bit platform, one for corporations and businesses, and then of course one for home users.
Corporations and Businesses
Corporations and businesses were the first to see support for 64-bit firewalls. Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition and McAfee VirusScan Enterprise have both made an impact with businesses. These types of applications are mainly used for guarding data on servers, or keeping large networks safe from outside attacks. Already, viruses named Shruggle and Rugrat have already made their presence across 64-bit platforms. Obviously, a firewall is still very much needed. Corporations and businesses will likely have no trouble finding a suitable firewall.
Sorry, home users, but you probably won’t be seeing a large selection for a while to come. Yet, there are still some solutions - some even being free! You may look into Avast, who offers a free version of their product that supports both the 32-bit and 64-bit platform. AVG Professional is also another key player in the 64-bit desktop security scene. Home users will also want to check out Tiny Firewall, who has a beta out for 64-bit users.
The selection for home users might not be as advanced, but then again, most home users aren’t guarding a server or large network. The selection available to home users is still moderate and not so bad, considering one of the options is completely free!
Wrapping it Up
Don’t fret; firewalls have made the transition to the 64-bit platform. Developers, businesses, and tech professionals most likely already have a 64-bit operating system with a trusted firewall in place. The real question as to whether or not to make the switch lies in home users. Home users have less need for performance, and the 64-bit operating system can be less friendly to those who aren’t tech-savvy. This includes finding a firewall that is compatible with the framework of the 64-bit operating system.
The change will come eventually - it is just a matter of when. Sooner or later, most people will have to make the switch to 64-bit technology as newer and more demanding applications are made available. Since the technology is relatively new, there is likely no immediate need to upgrade for a couple of years to come. When the time is right, don’t forget that hackers, crackers, and malicious code writers will be making the jump too - so don’t forget to protect yourself with a trusty firewall!
• Free Firewall for 64-bit users - www.avast.com
• AVG Professional Firewall for 64-bit users – www.grisoft.com
• Tiny Firewall for 64-bit users – www.shop.ca.com