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How do I maximize security for XP even after support ends?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 6, 2013 9:45 AM PDT

How do I maximize security for XP even after support ends?

I would like very level heads to answer this request for me, please: How can I maximize security for XP when Microsoft stops supporting it in April 2014? That is a search term. Can someone help me with some answers. My system is Dell Dimension 3000 with XP, SP 3. I use MSE for security and also OnlineArmor Firewall with HIPS (free edition). I use MBAM as a second opinion as well as Hitman Pro, SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition. I am totally disabled and have used XP very comfortably, but I have no wish to buy more expensive hardware and software, thanks! Please try to answer within these terms: suggest ways to make XP very secure for along time. Many Thanks!

-- Submitted by: Robb T.
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How do I maximize security for XP even after support ends?
by GERRY RAINS / September 6, 2013 12:00 PM PDT

In MBAM and SuperAntiSpyware you have made two excellent choices. While OnlineArmor Firewall (OAF) is powerful it clashes with many other programs. Years ago I found that out the hard way - I was using Avast Free Anti-virus and I added OnlineArmor Firewall and that crashed my system.

I am going to quote the obviously biased manufacturers of AVG Free.

"AVG AntiVirus Free not only gives you the top-quality antivirus protection and security features that you'd usually expect only from a paid product, but added privacy features for 2014 help keep your personal information safe both online and on your PC, and the new integrated File Shredder permanently deletes sensitive files to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Add to this our Anti-Spyware Technology and WiFi Guard, and you can be sure that wherever you are, at home or on the move, we're taking your privacy seriously."

It would be an excellent addition to your system if OAF is amenable to it. If I were you, and assuming that you backup to an external hard drive, I would download but not install AVG Free. Then I would do a complete backup after which I would install AVG. If you aren't backing up your system you should be - otherwise if your old hard drive fails you will lose everything.

However, by now you're probably competent enough to rescue the system in the unlikely event that they cannot co-exist. AVG Free is a superb program and not as fussy as Avast.

*****This last part is extremely important. Never download any file from CNET. If you do, when you install, all sorts of garbage enters your system. A new toolbar is added and you will find that it has changed your homepage as well as your default search engine. Try to download from the home page of the developers who have written the program. During the installation there is an excellent chance that the ever increasing propensity of "free offers" will be offered to you. Sometimes you have to uncheck a checkbox, sometimes you have to check Decline, etc. Unlike CNET which forces these on you, you will have a choice. Don't accept anything other than the main program.

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There is a Microsoft solution
by fred_violante / September 6, 2013 3:41 PM PDT

Google for EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit), is a interesting Microsoft free tool.

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re EMET?
by Bukti / September 20, 2013 4:55 PM PDT

Why suggest something like this(EMET) without at least explaining what it does or why it is "an interesting MS free tool"?
"Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit" might mean something to you but it means nothing to me and I dare say to many other non tech head PC users either.
Please update with some kind of explanation that would make it clear why I should have it?
Thank you, Frank Lobach

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by mal_aus / September 20, 2013 5:05 PM PDT
In reply to: re EMET?

Look it up as was suggested. I did and it has a very good explanation as to its use.

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A bit more info
by mijcar / September 23, 2013 9:38 AM PDT
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XP continuance
by blaineclrk / September 20, 2013 1:43 PM PDT

Be aware that you can usually install several anti-malware/spyware programs at once, but if you install more than one anti-virus program, their signature file updates as well as some other features cause severe conflicts. Don't ever have more than one anti-virus program installed at the same time.
I would recommend sandboxing your XP inside of a Virtual Machine program inside of another up to date and secure operating system except for a new virus type.
I'm currently checking out info on a Virtual Machine invading virus ( to see if it operates on Linux in the same manner as this article describes for Microsoft and Mac. The obvious answer for this current virus is not to open any .jar files from unknown/untrusted sources, but virus builders change methods and modes more often than most people change their underwear.
At present I would still recommend a Linux build such as Ubuntu or one of it's derivatives. There are very active accessibilities aware developers in Ubuntu and it's support for visual, aural and mobility aids is getting pretty amazing. By following just a couple very simple rules Linux is the most secure OS in use. It is extremely stable, I've used Ubuntu exclusively from late 2007 on a machine that XP became unstable on back then without one crash or freeze since. Perhaps best is that Linux, most builds anyway, is free, with Ubuntu and it's derivatives being among the free ones.
Hardware support for adapted mouse control devices is very good as is support for Braille devices and for cameras regarding Optical Character Recognition and Gaze Control. Speech Control has also come a long way in Linux. I'm not sure if it would satisfy your needs for a 'main system' just yet, but for a shell for XP installed in a virtual machine I think it's worth a try. You could have say, Ubuntu, Linux-Mint or another build set to auto-start your virtual machine for you at boot-up and you wouldn't need to mess with the Linux main OS at all unless you wish to experiment.
Some other controlling features for your virtual machine could be automated so that when you shut down, your virtual machine folder could be virus scanned by Linux using ClamAV, Avast, Comodo or another Linux compatible virus scanner, and any other chores could be taken care of. This would of course have to be set up by someone well skilled in Linux, but you should be able to find someone who's willing to get well versed on using Linux support for all the help needed and there is an abundance of help available.

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Switch to LINUX
by alias Winston Smith / September 20, 2013 2:54 PM PDT
In reply to: XP continuance

I downloaded Linux Mint a couple of months ago but found Ubuntu 'better' so I'm learning to use that for most things
I'm definitely not going to 'upgrade' to Windows 8

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Linux mint
by walldoo99 / October 8, 2013 10:40 PM PDT
In reply to: Switch to LINUX

I like having mint live persistent on my flash drive so if I'm someplace and want to use MY computer, I have it in my pocket. All I need is a windows 64 PC . I don't know if it works on Apple computers, but then neither do I.

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Don't be stupid about CNET
by / September 20, 2013 2:03 PM PDT

CNET downloads are perfectly fine - I'm a residential computer IT guy and I use CNET all the time. However, just like us, CNET needs to make money - it's called advertising. "Certain" downloads from CNET (not all, depends on the software being downloaded) have built in screens to install all of the extra crap you really, really, don't need. BUT, it you always click on the "Advanced" button (anything except "Typical" or "Recommended") you will be able to decline all of the stupid toolbars, search bar stealers, "helper" programs, ... and get the program (and only the program) you want. We all need to understand this, because there are a number of programs for which the free version can only be downloaded from (If you go to the website of some developers, you will find yourself going in multiple circles, and still end up back at Just remember, free is NEVER free, it just means you are paying through advertising. So put up with the crap and enjoy the free goodies.;

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Custom (Advanced) Install Does not always work
by alltojah / September 20, 2013 2:55 PM PDT

I downloaded a program from CNET a few months ago & even though I expressly unchecked the box for the toolbar & other stuff, it still installed it on two of my browsers. I had to do a safe mode/regedit to remove the crap. So I am very careful about downloading & installing software from CNET.

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by BayorK / September 20, 2013 11:10 PM PDT

<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">Alitijah can you please tell me how to use regedit to safely remove crap software from my copmuter,some stupid installation folder will be left on my computer,even though I had uninstall the software,can you tell me how to get rid of all those rubbish folders left on my computer,because they are slowing my computer down. thanks

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troll alert
by mpdugas / September 21, 2013 12:54 AM PDT
In reply to: regedit
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Nobody can tell you how to use regedit
by dslentz / September 21, 2013 5:30 AM PDT
In reply to: regedit

You have to learn to back up parts of the registry - and then what you can safely remove/change from experience or others experience

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re getting rid of unwanted left over files etc?
by Bukti / September 21, 2013 12:25 PM PDT
In reply to: regedit

I have found "RevoUninstaller" the best way to uninstall any program rather than using the basic "add/remove programs" .It not only uninstalls the program but will then give you the option at the end, to select any left over files and have them deleted as well.
If you look at the rest of its features ,you will find a lot of other things it can do ,from getting rid of junk files to cleaning discs which still have data on them that have only been "deleted",but are still there to be over-written later, and more.Check it out ,there is a free and a Pro version.

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by Fredrick Bun / September 20, 2013 11:15 PM PDT

The same exact thing happened to me, I never go auto, I always go custom, it was just a couple of weeks ago cnet even when I unchecked the boxes still loaded a bunch of crap that I had a hell of a time getting rid of, I also have had friends tell me the same thing, goodbye cnet never again.

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installing crap
by walldoo99 / October 8, 2013 10:48 PM PDT
In reply to: is wrong

You have to read all the ACCEPT and DECLINE things that come after that. It took me a long time to stop my sister from downloading and installing all the "FREE" junk, just because it was free and they said it would make her laptop run better having 50 toolbars on her browser. And to top it all off she was running Vista.
I broke her of the habit after doing the factory restore a few times in less than a year and then last time I upgraded her to windows 7, so her computing experience has improved drastically and I have a lot more free time.
Even installing Adobe Flash from the Adobe site they offer you a free Mc Afee malware, oops I mean install.

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Custon install is a lie.
by tuthdoc / September 21, 2013 2:28 AM PDT

I get update notices from cnet's "watch list". Yes, there are browser hijacks, unwanted software etc. When I get an update notice anymore, I go to the software home site to download stuff. Less time going back deleating crap to get the program you wanted the begin with. Also not as many annoying pop ups from your antivirus program telling you the rest of the stuff it quarantined for the next couple of days. I suspect the updates aren't really "updates", but another crack at installing crap on your computer.

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Don't be stupid about CNET
by Cookeefried / September 23, 2013 7:49 PM PDT

I installed a program, and I have to be honest since I'm a guest of CNET now, Happy
I'm NOT sure the software was from CNET.
I always uncheck, ask toolbar or anything else,
my firewall informed me that "Ask toolbar is trying to go on the internet",
so it is there even if unchecked.

The moral of this story is... get a good free firewall that informs you.
Mine is, "Outpost" from agnitum, I love it.

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Free is never free ?
by Greg_Hudson / September 20, 2013 4:01 PM PDT

Sorry, but as a developer myself, I offer a 100% free, fully functioning, non crippled, no advertising version of my software (WHOS-IN In Out Board) and where do you find this ? On cNet of course. Personally, I HATE the programs that try to hijack you. Just because 'some' developers play like this, doesn't mean ALL devs are the same.

Regards, Greg Hudson.

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Be VERY careful about
by Rick75230 / September 22, 2013 3:06 PM PDT

You have to be VERY careful about programs that install

Theoretically it is just third-party add-on software. Reality is that it hijacks your default search engine on all your browsers and changes it to and installs a bunch of programs that constantly check your browsers and if you change the default search engine on any of them it changes it back. is not a virus or a trojan. But it acts exactly like a trojan. It adds loads of stuff to your registry, installs several different programs, adds auto-run code that checks to make sure the various programs and registry keys are still there, and reinstalls them if any are removed.

The big problem is that the company behind signed some kind of contract with Google. And because the installer asks for permission to install (with consent checkboxes preset to checked), technically you agreed. Because of that and Google's clout, none of the commercial antimalware programs identify it as malware and warn about it, and none of them have any software to remove it.

I have found several programs I downloaded from CNet had as one of the third-party add-on options. If I notice that, I immediately delete the program and put a note in my software installers folder so I won't download that program again.

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Be VERY careful about
by JohnCPR / September 24, 2013 3:15 AM PDT

Further to using two virus programs to find and remove viruses (one active, the other dormant until needed), is a good example for how it works:

After years of virus free operation, I was infected. This proved to be a difficult case to remove. I performed two quick scans and then full scans each with MSE and Malwarebytes. While both did not detect using quick scans, Malwarebytes did detect and remove it on full scan. About 30 appearances of what appeared to be items associated with were removed after 2 full scans. I ran a third just to be safe. I always check that the latest virus signature data update has been downloaded and installed.

It has been reported that one full scan with an anti virus program may not detect and completely remove the malware so a second scan is a good approach. In my situation, this was the case.

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Virus scans
by alias Winston Smith / September 25, 2013 12:46 AM PDT

If you have the option it's usually a good idea to have a full scan run at start up, usually before OS is loaded
I tend to finish up for the day/evening, make sure to check for AV and anti - malware is up to date then do re-start and let it run overnight (with big hard drives and a lot of stuff it can take a long time to run full scan)
Very rarely does anything more serious than a tracking cookie appear which really doesn't warrant a full scan, but, it's nice to know everything is 'clean'
Norton AV usually finds other 'security' programs as viruses or malware as it wants complete control (even though it doesn't always find everything)
It does manage to block active attacks though but I still run various security programs to triple check system

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by walldoo99 / October 8, 2013 10:56 PM PDT

Conduit is a beast to get rid of but you can normally just uninstall and then remove from your addons or in Chrome from the extensions. Then you have to reset you search default.
The problem is you might have installed something which keeps adding it back or you might have a toolbar that is sponsored by conduit.

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by Cookeefried / September 24, 2013 9:28 PM PDT


I had never heard of, in what disguises does it appear?

Does it say it's name when installing software?
I suppose I can stop it when the firewall signals it?


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by JohnCPR / September 25, 2013 7:47 AM PDT
In reply to:

You will know you have because it replaces your preferred search engine with its own. When you try to replace it through IE\Tools\Internet Options\General\ Home page or Control Panel, you will find you cannot.

I do not know if it still exists, but since I have not seen further mention except for this post, I would hope it has been removed, especially the tactic of using a pre-ticked box to sneak in during the installation of other software. Several years ago a cable company used this tactic to install service including optional features at higher cost with a pre-ticked box indicating acceptance. This tactic of reverse acceptance was ordered stopped by the regulator.

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Microsoft Windows XP Pro 32 and 64bit dont like SATA
by gdk2013uk / September 21, 2013 3:02 AM PDT

Microsoft Windows XP Home,PRO 32/64bit don't like SATA as XP doesn't support HDCL drivers which support SATA drives and I don't think that there is a driver which can make SATA compatible with XP anyway if you insist in using XP with SATA be aware that you will have glitch problems 15 to 20 minutes after boot-up this is what happened to me and made me move away from Microsoft Windows and move to Linux Mint 14 (Nadia) after temporally trying UBUNTU 12.04LTS but eventually settling with Linux Mint 14.

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by alias Winston Smith / September 21, 2013 3:25 AM PDT

Weird, I don't have any issues with SATA and XP
Are you sure it's not power supply and/or BIOS settings?

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by Zouch / September 21, 2013 3:52 AM PDT
In reply to: XP and SATA

Yes, my HP ML110 (a server used as a desktop) only has SATA drives. It came as bare metal without an operating system, I installed XP Pro 32 bit and never had any problems with the drives whatsoever.

I believe some machines do need a BIOS setting adjusted to get the initial boot to work but mine didn't.

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Microsoft Windows XP Pro 32 doesn't like SATA???
by HJBartz / September 21, 2013 8:37 AM PDT

Sorry, but you are talking rubbish! I have had a SATA drive sitting in my computer without ANY problems for months now. But of course, to run SATA drives you must have a MOTHERBOARD that has the required SATA connectors (<extreme sarcasm>) Devil

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Slight clarification
by Rick75230 / September 22, 2013 3:12 PM PDT

Actually, you can boot from a SATA drive with a SATA-to-IDE converter, some available for about $10 from Microcenter. Also, if your motherboard will boot from USB you can use a SATA-to-USB converter.

If you're not booting, you can use a PCI board.

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