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7/15/05 Simple tasks to help boost PC performance

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 13, 2005 10:07 AM PDT

Thank you all for another week of great submissions! Please everyone give this week?s winner Mark F. and Dana H. and all those who contributed to this week's topic a huge pat on the back. You guys rock!

I hope that all these fantastic tips and recommendation from our members gives Evelyn and anyone finding them in this situation--some great guidance to maintaining a smooth running Windows system.

Members, as always if you have more questions, or additional advice, by all means feel free to post below in this discussion. The more we discuss the more we learn, so speak up.

Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community


Question:

I have a Windows XP machine that's been getting more and more sluggish. I don't have a lot of time to spend working on the machine, so I was wondering: Do you have a detailed checklist of simple tasks I can do to help boost PC performance? Thank you.

Submitted by: Evelyn D.

(Winning answers and other submitted answers found below)

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Winning answer by Mark F.
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 13, 2005 10:07 AM PDT
Answer:

Hi Evelyn,

You have a computer that is getting more and more sluggish as time goes on, and you want a checklist of simple tasks you can do to improve its performance? You are using Windows XP.

You say that you don't have a lot of time to spend on the computer, and while I understand this, (we all seem to live at breakneck speed these days), you may have to consider putting some time aside initially to give your computer a good old spring-cleaning. Once you have done it the first time, subsequent maintenance times will be considerably shorter, especially if you can create a regimen for doing it.

Spring cleaning a computer, in my view, takes two forms. Looking after the hardware, (the computer bits and pieces themselves), and looking after the software.


The Hardware

I am sure there are many ways to keep the hardware of your computer running smoothly, although I am of the opinion that if it isn?t broke, don?t fix it. Meaning, if your computer?s hardware components appear to run smoothly, I wouldn't do too much tinkering to rock the boat. However, there are little things you can do.

1. Keep dust away from the computer and everywhere around them.

2. Keep wires and leads tidy and out of harm's way as much as possible.

3. Make sure the computer case has plenty of ventilation around it, and that it is standing on a firm base.

4. Don't let your computer workspaces get cluttered up.

5. Don't eat or drink anywhere near the computer, printers, scanners, or keyboards. (Difficult I know, and I am the worst offender, but any crumbs in the keyboard or spilt drinks on the case or keyboard can do a lot of damage.)

6. Don't move the computer around when it are switched on. If you have to move it, shut it down first.

7. If you are feeling adventurous, and confident, remove a side panel from the computer and clear out any dust that has collected inside. But this is a risky process for someone who has not done it before, (for example, you have to be very careful to ground yourself first by touching any metal part of the case, before touching any of the printed circuit boards inside), and I would seek more advice if this is what you want to do but have never done so.

There may be other similar steps you can take, but the essence is, keep the computer area clean and clutter-free.

The Software

As to software and the operating system itself, there is much more you can do. Housekeeping is essential, and can greatly improve how your computer operates and runs. It seems to me that there are five main issues.

1. Keep the computer virus free and protected by firewalls.

2. Keep the computer Operating System, (OS), up to date.

3. Get rid of any unwanted or temporary files.

4. Keep the files you intend to retain on your computers tidy and easier to access by the OS.

5.Make sure you both understand the ''best practices'' for Internet Surfing, downloading and sharing files, viewing emails, and installing applications.

1. Keep the computers virus free and protected by firewalls


If you only do one thing, this is the one you must do. It is regrettable that the Internet is now swamped by idiots and malicious users whose only purpose in life seems to be to make our lives miserable with virus infections and attempted hacking into our personal property. Your computer is your own personal property and you must protect it. You need.

a) A firewall. There are many firewalls around, and they all help prevent hackers from gaining access to your computers and stealing personal data when you are connected to the Internet. The one I use is ZoneAlarm, from http://www.zonelabs.com. It is free, but it is by no means the only good one around.

You may already have a firewall installed on your computer. It is not advisable to have 2 firewalls installed on the same computer, as they can conflict and interrupt each other. With Windows XP there is already a basic firewall installed, but it is considered to be quite weak, and should be turned off if another firewall is used.

You need to check this. See the ?System tray? at the bottom right of your desktop where the time is displayed. How many small icons do you have in that system tray? If you have a lot, say more than 4 or 5, this may be too many. Each time you turn your computer on it loads certain programs into memory and displays an icon in the System Tray. Too many programs loaded into memory at start up will slow down your computer dramatically. Also they are unnecessary. If you need a program, say to play a music file or anything like that, you just open the program from the start menu, or from a desktop shortcut, and it will work ok.

You only need a few in there. You need the time, a loudspeaker for volume control, a Firewall icon, an Anti-Virus icon, and perhaps an icon that shows when you are connected to the internet.

Anything else is wasting your precious memory space. Try hovering the mouse over each icon until a little message displays, and writing down what each icon says. If that doesn?t tell you what a particular icon is, try right clicking the mouse over it, and reading what the menu is that is displayed. The menu may say something like ?Open xxxxx? where xxxxx is the name of the program.

If you have an icon either for Nortons, or McAfee, then you may have either an AntiVirus, or a Firewall, or both. Right click the icon and see what it says; eg, I have an icon that says ?Nortons Antivirus? So I know that I have Norton?s antivirus on my computer, but not Norton?s Firewall. (I don?t use Norton because I don?t like it, and I have disabled it).

If you have Norton?s Firewall, or McAfee Firewall, then you are pretty well defended. But you will need to check if there are updates available. Double click the icon to bring the Norton or McAfee program up, and search for an update option.

If you have neither, and no other firewall, go to http://www.zonelabs.com and download their free firewall, save the installation file to your desktop, and then double click it to run and install it. Once the installation is complete, you can delete the installation file from your desktop, but beware not to delete the ZoneAlarm program icon that may have been placed on your desktop during installation. When it is installed, ZoneAlarm will tell you whenever something is trying to access the internet from your computer, or whenever something is trying to access your computer from the internet. This will be a little pop-up just above the System Tray icon, and you can tell ZoneAlarm whether to allow or disallow.

For example, when you open up Internet Explorer to surf the internet, Zonealarm will pop up asking if you want Internet Explorer to access the internet. If you do, click ?yes?.

A word or two about the other icons in the system tray. As I said, you only need 4 or 5 icons there. If you have more then you have too many. Double click each icon one at a time to see what program comes up. Decide whether or not you want that program to load up each time you start the computer. You probably will not want it to. Explore the program, (eg the Tools menu, then Options, or it may just be an Options menu itself), and look for something that says, ?Load on start-up? or similar. Un-tick this, and click OK. The next time you start the computer, that program will not load until you want to load it. Do that with each icon that you don?t want in the System Tray.

You also need;

b) Anti virus (AV) protection. Whether or not your computer is connected to the Internet, you need anti virus protection on it. Viruses can infect computers through email messages, chat rooms, web sites, downloaded programs and other files, and through infected floppy disks or CD's that your friends or Harriet?s friends may pass around. Again, there are plenty of free Anti virus products on the Internet. I use AVG from http://www.grisoft.com, but there are other good ones around. (The actual link is http:// free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php , but forum policies do not allow links with the word ?free? in them, so remove the space between the http:// and free, and use that link).

If you have Norton?s Antivirus, or McAfee Antivirus, then you may be protected, but these programs need their virus definitions updated regularly, and they ask for a subscription after any free trial period. If you don?t want to pay this, (and I don?t), then these programs will not be protecting you properly. It is best to disable these, (you can do this by right clicking the System Tray icon, but this will only disable the program for the current session that the computer is on. To disable it permanently you may have to remove the program), and downloading and installing AVG.

Go to http:// free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php and download their free antivirus program. Save the install program to your desktop, and then double click it to run it and install the AVG program. Once the installation is complete, you can delete the installation file from your desktop, but beware not to delete the AVG program icon that may have been placed on your desktop during installation.

Its virus definition database needs to be updated immediately. Double click the icon in the System Tray, (or double click the program icon on your desktop), and choose ?Update? to download the latest virus definitions. Then run the ?Complete Test? option as soon as possible. AVG will scan your computer hard disk for any viruses.

The virus definitions need to be kept up to date regularly, (at least twice a week, although many people will say do it daily), and you should use the AV to scan the computer regularly, e.g. once a week. This is, singularly, the best way to keep computers virus free.

But AV's don't catch all malicious ?malware?. You also need anti ad-ware protection.


c) Anti Adware protection. Adware can be spread by the same methods. Adware places annoying ''pop-ups'' on your computer, advertising whatever they are meant to advertise. They also place programs on your computer that record your surfing habits, so they can target the ads you get when you visit web sites. The best anti adware program around is Ad-Aware by http://www.lavasoftusa.com. Again it is free. Again it needs its definitions updated immediately and a complete scan done right away, then updated regularly, and the computer scanned, but perhaps not so often, say once a month.


Use the same method as above to download and install the program. Remember to delete the installation program from your desktop.

d) You also need spyware protection. Spyware also spies on your surfing habits, but can steal details from you. I use two anti spyware products, both free, and they compliment each other. They are Spybot Search & Destroy from http://www.spybot.info/en/index.html Download and install as for the others, check for updates immediately and run the scan straight away, then update and scan regularly. If any spyware is found, Spybot has a button to ?Fix it? for you. Select the spyware from the list, and click that button.

And you need Spyware Blaster, from http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/ again, download and install, and update it. You don't perform scans with this program. It immunizes your computer in a different way, but it needs updating regularly.

I have a third anti-spyware application installed, from Microsoft. It is called Microsoft AntiSpyware and is proving very good. It is available from the Microsoft site here

e) I also have a start-up monitor installed. This warns me if anything on my computer that is installed, (either with or without my knowledge), attempts to set itself to start whenever I start up the computer. I obtained mine from http://www.mlin.net/StartupMonitor.shtml and it is a very useful little program.


2. Keep your OS up to date.

It is important to keep Windows up to date because it is an operating system that seems easy to exploit, and flaws and security issues are often found.


Windows XP must be updated regularly. It is the favorite OS for malware. You can set the XP system to update automatically, or you can visit Microsoft's update page manually by going to the Start menu, and clicking the Windows update link. There are many critical updates that need to be installed, and if you haven't done this before, be prepared to spend some time downloading the updates. (I mean a ''long'' time).


I don't mean to be alarmist in all this. But it is a sad fact that many thousands or even millions of computers around the world are not adequately protected, and this just allows malware to propagate and spread.


3. Get rid off any unwanted or temporary files.

Windows is a hoarder. It's worse than a magpie. It stores files all over it's system, and many of these can be temporary files that the OS and other programs only use once and are then meant to be deleted, but are not.

Each Windows OS has a utility called ''Disk Cleanup''. You will find yours in the Start menu folder. Go to Start Menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Using this will empty the main Windows/Temp folders, and you can also use it to delete your Recycle Bin, and your ''Temporary Internet Folder'', which stores all of the objects that make up the websites you have visited. You don't need these and they can be deleted.


Alternatively you could delete these unwanted files within Windows Explorer, but If you do not know how to use Windows Explorer, (note that I do not mean Internet Explorer), then do a Search, (Start Menu/Search), and search for folders called, (without the ?? speech marks), ''Temp'', or ''temp'' or ''Temporary files'', or ''temp*'', (notice the star), and see what is contained in these folders. If you are satisfied they are old, or not wanted, delete them, but do not delete the folder itself.

Or in Internet Explorer, click the Tools Menu then click Internet Options, (or go to Start Menu > Settings > Control Panel > Internet Options), and under the General tab you can delete cookies, files, (temporary Internet files), and Internet history, (which keeps a record of the web sites you have visited recently).

You could also look at all the programs that are installed on the computer and see if there are any that you no longer need, and can be deleted, (or uninstalled). Doing this is a great way to free up hard disk space.

Go to Start Menu > Settings > Control Panel, and double click the Add/Remove Programs Icon. In this utility you can see a list of all the programs installed on each computer. If there are any programs that you know you no longer use or need, then highlight the program, and click the Add/Remove button, then follow any other instructions that may appear. If you are not sure whether you still use the programs, I would leave this alone until you can be sure. Beware though that very often only the major parts of the programs are removed, and some leftovers will remain in that program's folder which you will have to manually delete. You may have to reboot, (re-start), your computer after each removal, but the utility should let you know about this.


4. Keep the files you intend to retain on your computers tidy and easier to access by the OS.

One of the major things you can do to improve performance on the computer, (which means it does not have to work so hard, and will run more smoothly), is to ''scan'' the hard disk for errors, and ''de-fragment'' the disk at regular intervals. Scandisk scans the hard disk, (where all files/folders are stored), for errors, and will attempt to fix them all for you. Errors can be bad sectors that have become corrupt and need repairing, or marking as ''not for use in future'', or program/file fragments that no longer belong to anything, and Scandisk can help you keep your hard disks in good working order. Disk fragmentation is an occupational hazard with hard disks. The programs and files or data stored on the disk become fragmented over time, and the OS has to work harder to load the files when needed. The Disk Defragmenter recombines all these fragments into a more compact area, which makes retrieval easier.


Both Scan Disk and Disk Defragmenter are available by double clicking ''My Computer'' on the desktop, then highlighting the hard disk, (usually called the ''C'' disk), and right clicking that disk and choosing Properties, then Tools. If you have never run Scan Disk or Disk Defragmenter you should beware that these processes may take a long time to complete.

Before running either, disconnect from the Internet, (unplug the Internet cable or wire, but you should turn off the computer first, unless you can simply unplug the lead from the wall telephone socket), turn off any Screen Savers, and disable your firewall and AV programs, then reboot after each process is done, and after the final one is done, turn off the computer, re-connect your internet line, then turn it on again.

5. Make sure you both understand the ''best practices'' for Internet surfing, downloading and sharing files, viewing emails, and installing applications.

Best practices help you and anyone else using the comuter prevent coming across viruses and spyware in the first place.


a. One of the most important is to carry out a virus scan on ''EVERYTHING'' that you; download from the Internet and intend to install, or intend to install from a CD or floppy disk, or open any attachments from an email. I mean EVERYTHING. Even if you know where the file or groups of files have come from, check it first for viruses. This is easy enough to do. If you have a CD or floppy disk, before copying anything over to your hard disk or before installing anything from them, open up My Computer, highlight the CD or floppy disk drive, and right click, and choose ''Scan with AVG'', or whatever your AV is. If your AV does not install a right click option, open up the AV program, select Scan, and navigate to the drive to be scanned. Similarly with files received from download or from email attachments. First of all save them to a temporary folder. The desktop is a good place, but only for temporary storage. Highlight the file, and right click to select scan with your AV.


b. If you or anyone else is using a file sharing program, (one called Kazaa seems to be the most popular), to share files with other people, you must be aware that the program itself may have come bundled with spyware and adware, and that any files you or they download may not be what you or they expect, but may be infected themselves. You need to research the programs you intend to use, (e.g. in Google type in Kazaa, and stand well back when the thousands of Kazaa related articles appear), and find out what experts think of them. Do not trust a program just because the web site it came from looks good, or the program itself looks ''cool''.


c. A lot of web sites attempt to install files and programs onto your computer when you visit them. Use common sense when deciding which web sites to visit, and consider increasing your browsers security beforehand, (Internet Explorer/Tools/Internet Options/Security).


d. Beware of chat rooms. There is the obvious, (sadly), risk of young children being targeted by adults in chat rooms, but there is also the less obvious risk, especially in IRC chat rooms, or with Instant Messengers, of viruses ''getting in'' through the back door.

And finally...
Understand what you are doing, and keep up the housekeeping regularly. There are many people here at the CNET forums who are willing to help any questions or problems you may have.

This is a very long reply, and it will look very daunting. But I am sad to say it is really all necessary to keep your computer working properly and safe from viruses. This first time all this is going to take a very long time, but once you have downloaded and installed everything, keeping them up to date and doing scans will be a lot quicker.

Good luck,
Submited by: Mark F. of Littleover Derby, United Kingdom
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Ad aware and other cleanup programs
by tripleplay / July 14, 2005 9:09 PM PDT

hi there;
i followed your discussion here, and was wondering if anybody knew that hitman pro exists?
this program combines ad aware and many other programs to clean up your computer.
i use it, and i'm quite satisfied with this application.
it is an application made by (i believe) a dutchman, who was tired of using seperate applications.

you can try it www.hitmanpro.nl
the site is dutch, but after downloading the program it leads its own.

good luck

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XP Home O/S Update Process
by rkolls / July 14, 2005 10:41 PM PDT

Your article is just fantastic. I hope you can advise us folks on similar lines for XP Home O/S update process. I mean which file has to follow which file for updates. It?s been a year since the last O/S update. Thanks!

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XP updates
by shafiqkhan31 / July 14, 2005 11:07 PM PDT

Dead simple, click start and click Microsoft updates.You do not have to do much other than follow the guidance on up-date site.
You can enable automatic up-dates to download and install from microsoft. The best way to be up to date.
I hope it helps.
If you need more detailed help I would be delighted to provide.Although it is there in you computer if you are using XP Home O/S.
Shafiq

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Windows updates
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 14, 2005 11:10 PM PDT

Hi rkolls,

To be honest, your question concerns me a little. Windows XP, (both Home and Professional), have had a large number of updates in the last year, and you saying that it has been a year since the last OS update suggests that something is wrong your end.

Can you try this;

Goto Start > Windows Update and click. Let the Windows Update browser open up and scan your computer and make a note if you receive any error messages. Let us know what errors if any you do get.

Good luck,

Mark

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Regarding Answer From Mark F.
by Coolcatio / July 14, 2005 11:02 PM PDT

Excellent answer to this question, nicely presented and comprehensive. Mark, I think you've missed your calling. If you're not writing for a computer mag or e-zine you should be. Thanks for the tips.

Jim S.

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Well I thank you!
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 14, 2005 11:05 PM PDT

But read closely and see all the grammar and spelling mistakes, and other odd references, Happy

Mark

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aol 9.0 sign on problem -very slow and constant knock offs
by jowles / July 15, 2005 5:32 AM PDT

aol 9.0se wxp sp2 pentium 4 hp 510n
Read the wonderful messages from Dana and Mark. I have done everything they suggest but still no solution.
This is what usually happens.
bot-up ,,click on aol icon on desktop-- hour glass appears and spins forever..Finally the aol screen appears. I click on mail and it comes up.Now,I can click on any mail and hit delete and it will delete. When I try to open any mail ,the system freezes.
Task manager indicates that aol is running.I have to end task and resign up and sometimes it works.
I also did a clean uninstall and install of aol.
I use norton av 2005 ,ad-aware, spybot,spyblaster and windows xp firewall.

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Reaol 9.0 sign on problem -very slow and constant knock offs
by paulp575 / July 15, 2005 9:05 AM PDT

Get rid of any Norton products. It is a known fact that they do slow up your computer by using a lot of your free memory (RAM). And you may experience problems getting rid of all the pieces they load when installed. They do have 'complete' removal instructions on their website (sorry, don't know exact URL).

I'd suggest AVG which is free and very easy to use and keep up-to-date.

Paul

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aol knocking off
by hrgutman / July 25, 2005 7:03 AM PDT

Had same problem ever since I installed the 9.0 Security edition last year, called aol a dozen times, nothing they ever suggested worked including a different solution from every pohone call. Had to warm re-boot constantly. Reinstalled with a clean disk, numerous times too. Finally, I asked them to send me a disk to be able to re-install 8.0, that has worked pretty well, ocassionally, now I am knocked off only maybe 10% of the time. Don't know what I will do when they offer 10.0 coming up later.

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Computer Housekeeping
by lenbo_99 / July 14, 2005 11:11 PM PDT

For an all around housecleaning for windows computers, System MEchanic from Iolo Syatems, provides, cleanup, registry repair tools, spyware and pop up removal and disk defrag utilities all in one program. It will cost about the same os one of those "tech shop clean out deals". The difference is you own the software and can do this again at your leisure. I have used this product for many years and it is still the best of its type and keeps improving.

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firewall
by rfguy / July 15, 2005 12:29 AM PDT

Hi Mark,

Great tips.

How do you check to see if windows XP firewall is enabled?

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Windows Firewall
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 15, 2005 4:06 AM PDT
In reply to: firewall

It all depends which Windows XP Service Pack you have.

If you have SP1 or none, then the firewall is called the Internet Connection Firewall, (ICF), a more primative version of XP SP2's Windows Firewall.

Have a look at this site for more details on the ICF;

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/networking/learnmore/icf.mspx

The SP2 firewall, (Windows Firewall), is easier to manage. Goto Start > Control Panel, and double click the Windows Firewall icon. You can set or turn off there.

This dialogue is closely connected to the Security Center dialogue in Control Panel. If you open up the Security Center, that will tell you if your firewall is on or off. Even if the Windows Firewall is not running, if you have a 3rd party firewall running the SC will know.

Mark

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''Windows Firewall'' dialog may give the wrong impression
by JwT / December 15, 2005 3:39 PM PST
In reply to: Windows Firewall

However closely it may be connected to the SC, this dialog DOESN'T seem to know you have a 3rd-party firewall running. It warns ''Your PC is not protected: turn on Windows Firewall''.

Don't be deterred - it's just adware!

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SpywareBlaster
by bostonf / July 15, 2005 1:17 AM PDT

Hi Mark -

I was happy to see you mention SpywareBlaster in your reply. Quite often I see Ad-Aware and SpyBot S&D discussed, but people don't always realize these only fix problems AFTER they are in your machine. Since SpywareBlaster actually prevents problems, it should ALWAYS be a first line of defense.

I keep SpywareBlaster updated regularly, along with AVG Antivirus, and I keep my Internet Explorer security and privacy settings fairly high. I hardly ever find anything with a full scan of either Ad-Aware or SpyBot (even though I occasionally visit web site that may be questionable)!

Good job with your article!

Frank Boston

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SpywareBlaster
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 15, 2005 4:14 AM PDT
In reply to: SpywareBlaster

Many thanks Frank, and I agree with you about SypareBlaster. Spybot actually mentions SpywareBlaster in one of its screen dialogues as a program that is better able to control ActiveX protection and offers a link to the program on your hard disk if you have it installed, so it seems to have a good reputation.

Have you tried Microsoft's AntiSpyware yet? It used to be Giant AntiSpyware until M$ took it over a few months ago. It's a good piece of software and although still only in beta, it is working well in conjunction with Spybot and SpywareBlaster.

Mark

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ZoneAlarm and LinkSys router
by dddiam / July 15, 2005 4:53 AM PDT

Mark,

What a wonderful, comprehensive answer. Thanks for taking time to compose it.

I do not know if it is still an issue, but many years ago, I remember needing a special firmware version for my LinkSys BEFSR41 cable/DSL router to enable it to coordinate properly with ZoneAlarm.

- David

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Removing Old Anti-virus Program
by rgismondi / July 15, 2005 5:33 AM PDT

Mark F., of The United Kingdom, was quite comprehensive. I would like to add a caution if changing your anti-virus program.

Before replacing an anti-virus program, especially Norton, be aware that you may not remove all of the files that are potential conflicts with a new anti-virus program, when you use the "uninstall," function in your "Add-Remove" folder. Therefore, refer to the Symantec or Norton website, for the proper removal tool, to complete the uninstall. This seems even more important if you have Norton Internet Security suite installed.

Therefore, I would download the anti-virus file, e.g. from AVG, and save it. (I keep all of my downloaded program files saved in a special folder. If I need to re-install, it is much easier, especially if you are a dinosaur, as I am, using dial-up.) Next, create a restore point, if using Windows XP, something that is always good to do before a new program installation.

Then, uninstall NAV, and use Norton's tool to facilitate the uninstall. Next, I would search my computer for Norton or Symantec files, and delete them. Then, I would use a registry cleaner, such as CCleaner, to clear the registry of any remnants of the old anti-virus program. Lots of steps; but, they may prevent conflicts with the new AV program.

Now, install the new anti-virus program. Get the updates, then do a complete virus scan. Back to Mark F.

~~Robert in Los Angeles

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ZONELABS
by happybottom / July 15, 2005 7:31 AM PDT

HI MARK....GOOD ADVICE. I RUN WINDOWS ME AND AOL 8.0. I DNLOADED ZONELABS TWICE AND IT CAUSED HAVOC WITH MY PC. WHAT OTHER FREE ONE CAN U SUGGEST? I ALSO HAVE SPYWARE AND SPYBOOT AND RUN AOL'S SCAN PROGRAM MONTHLY.AND STILL FREEZES ON ME.......THNX

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I hit the wrong button so I got disconnected. Sorry
by altanoa / July 15, 2005 11:44 AM PDT

But I use a Diskeeper and the first time took about 10 minutes and every time afterwards it takes about one minute of less to defrag it. It has a option to set it and forget about it also. Great defrag program. I recommend it to all.

But if you just use these two products then you will notice a big improvement in speed for your computer.

Sincerely,

Anthony S. Altano
CEO/President
TNT Security and Consultant

PS Great job and response from Mark F. Thank you

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Eating and Drinking by a computer?
by Sman101102 / July 15, 2005 12:01 PM PDT

Hi there Mark, I know the old rule about not eating and drinking near a computer because it can harm the machine and other components themselves. Well we can for the most part rest easy on this because in the computer class that I am currently attending ( I'm going for my bachelors in Information Systems Security) The book tells us that in the event of having something spilled on the keyboard all that is needed is a good showering and the time to allow the keyboard to get dry. The Tower itself is the same way in effect, but don't place the machine in the shower. Just allow it the time to dry thoroughly. I know it's not best practice to eat and drink near your computer, I have seen this happen in millions of times though in my career as a computer repair technician. If you plan to eat and drink by the PC please take caution because there is a couple of days worth of down time if you don't have the resources to go and buy new components. Just another point of view Happy Have a great evening all!!!

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ADDITION TO TIP
by SECURET1 / July 16, 2005 5:51 AM PDT

I HAVE FOUND THAT BY ELEVATING THE CPU (COMPUTER CASE) OFF THE FLOOR, THE INTAKE OF DUST AND PET HAIR IS REDUCED BY MORE THAN 70 %. AS I GET CALLS FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS CONSTANTLY, THIS IS ONE TRICK I CAN VERIFY. I BUILT A 3 SIDED WOODEN STAND AND STORE PAPER AND DISKS UNDER IT. BE SURE TO LEAVE THE REAR AND FRONT AREAS OPEN FOR VENTILATING THE EXTREMELY HOT AIR TO COOL THE UNIT. B PARKER, NORTH CAROLINA..

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Winning answer
by Kathunt / July 16, 2005 12:33 PM PDT

I would just like to say thanks Mark for your help I to have heaps of problems with my computer and am doing all that you say.
Regards,
Kathy

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Winning answer by Mark F
by catkiss / July 16, 2005 2:22 PM PDT

WoW!!! I'm a beginner and really needed help. The information U provided is PRICELESS and very much appreciated. Your message was written in a way that is so user-friendly. Thank you for your assistance. Hopefully, after installing the sites you suggested, my computer will run better and I can get some other issues "fixed" on my computer.

Sandra Jones in OKC
catkiss68@cox.net

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Two firewalls on same computer
by rollyjs / July 17, 2005 9:07 AM PDT

In reading Marks reply to Evelyn, I noted that he said that if 2 firewalls were installed they work against each other. I am running WindowsXP Home edition with SP2. I am connected to a home network (three computers)using a Linksys router connected to DSL. The Linksys Tech told me, when I first installed it, that it has a built-in firewall. Since I don't remember disabling the WinXP firewall, my question is, are they in conflict with each other, and if so, how do I disable the WinXp firewall? I am running Norton Antivirus set for regular updates and don't seem to having any problems and I would like to keep it that way.
Thanks,
Rolly Schicker

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Sorry for the delay
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 22, 2005 12:59 AM PDT

Hi Rollyjs,

Sorry I haven't answered you earlier.

Yes I "did" say that, but your system is slightly different. I don't know too much about routers to be honest, but I know that router firewalls are hardwired into the router, and so it is not a software firewall like Windows Firewall is.

I understand this to mean that you "can" have both firewalls on with no conflict. It is only if you have two software firewalls, (eg Windows Firewall, ZoneAlarm, Norton Internet Security, etc), where you can get conflicts.

I imagine it works that way because the router firewall is away from the Operating System, and so when the data gets through the router, the software firewall doesn't have to fight anything to look at it.

I hope this helps.

Mark

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Answer by Mark F.
by ghosti / July 17, 2005 6:56 PM PDT

A good answer from mark in plain language, many thanks, give him a job. kindest regards tonighosti.

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7/15/05 Simple tasks to help boost PC performance
by dmmalm / July 17, 2005 9:45 PM PDT

Thank you for a very good and understandable reply for this problem. I use most of the programs that you described and have already downloaded the ones that I didn't know about. The only thing that I can't do is use auto update on my home build XP Pro system. If I enable the auto update then I would get Service pack 2 and this really messes up my machine. I still have folders on both of my hard drives that XP says that it can't open or delete. As soon as I get time I'm planning on reformating and starting over. Anyway, thanks for the great answer.

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De-frag and Scan Disc
by chrisyp / July 18, 2005 11:18 PM PDT

Thanks Mark for a very comprehensive reply to the lady whose pc was running too slowly. I've taken your advice and installed a new anti virus, (AVG) and am very pleased I managed it as I'm not exactly computer literate. Next I tried to de-frag. The programme told me it had a problem accessing part of my disc and I should run a thorough test on Scan Disc. I am trying to do this but Scan Disc says "another programme is writing to the drive" I have no other programme open so what do I do? I'm running M.E. by the way.

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How do you turn off XP firewall?
by sohlman / July 22, 2005 8:48 AM PDT

In your reponse you say to "With Windows XP there is already a basic firewall installed, but it is considered to be quite weak, and should be turned off if another firewall is used." You do not mention how to turn the XP firewall off. How do you do that?

Thanx, Gary

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