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Reformatting and Internet security advise

by The Riff / July 31, 2007 11:55 AM PDT

My computer is nearly 4 yrs old and has gotten very slow and I've been advised to reformat. I have all my original discs and product keys etc and I've backed up everything onto disc with backup utility but what I'd like to know is

1). does reformatting completely clean the hard drive or will it still contain some crud on it?
2).I'm using xp 2002 home edition with the updated sp2 pack, so would it be better to buy a more up to date edition or can I just update the 2002 version again?...does this take a lot of time?

At the moment I'm using norton 2006 internet security suite which needs to have its subscription renewed soon but after reading great reviews about Avast I'm going to make the switch. Unlike Norton Avast doesn't have a firewall so do I need to download a separate firewall or is the windows firewall good enough. If not can anyone advise a good one to get.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.


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Starting fresh...
by John.Wilkinson / July 31, 2007 2:01 PM PDT

1.) Reformatting erases all data, though it may still be recoverable using special software.

2.) Windows XP w/ SP2 is the latest version available on CD. There's no need to purchase anything, just download the latest updates after installation. The time varies based on your internet connection, but here it takes about an hour.

3.) ZoneAlarm is an excellent free firewall and a better alternative than the Windows firewall.

Hope this helps,

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by ctbarry / July 31, 2007 8:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Starting fresh...

If you are planning not to use norton, then get your avast ready for when you format. No point loading norton only to change soon. Saves clogging up your nice clean system with files you wont want.

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Another Excellent Free Firewall
by crazeebob2000 / August 1, 2007 2:37 AM PDT

Is Comodo Firewall Pro. I used Zone Alarm for years with no problems, I just like Comodo better. It's a matter of personal choice.

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You might consider
by Dango517 / August 9, 2007 5:42 PM PDT

see: Iolo system mechanic 7 professional

This software has many additional features to optimize and repair your PC and at a very good price. It also has a drive scrubber that will delete all data from your computer but this will take some time. It comes with a full security suite.

Read through the hard drive help in start>control panel>administrative tools>computer management>disk management>right click> help. "READ THIS THROUGH CAREFULLY". There are a number of options you can use to perhaps make your computer run better. Most of these items will delete your drive(s)

Reformatting does not take a long time. I have two drives an IDE and a SATA both reformat at about the same speed, about ten minutes or less. I have a dual core CPU.

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by ozos / August 9, 2007 10:39 PM PDT

John Wilkerson's post is 110% true, so I'm not contending it, merely adding:

I'd ditch Norton, in exchange for the following software:

AVG Free (free updates, basic virus scanning, works great, very small memory image too)

CCleaner (replaces extended functionality of Norton, such as cache cleaning and registry fixing)

ZoneAlarm or similar, unless you have a router, in which case you can just disable UPnP and should be more or less fine (disable WAN-side ping while you're at it).

Also I would suggest, for keeping the system clean, some (or all) of the following software:

Opera 9.x internet browser (Firefox has become so mainstream that it has nearly the same number of exploits as IE, so its lost that security over IE, Opera only has about 7% market share, so security exploits more or less don't exist)

Spybot Search & Destroy (anti-spyware/worm/trojan software, excellent, also includes protection plug-ins for Opera and IE (pretty sure it has Firefox as well), just DONT enable the Registry Watch (or w/e its called) that asks every time the registry is changed (it'll eventually A) drive you insane B) cause more problems than it solves))

Windows Defender (which is kind of a half'n'half combo of Spybot and CCleaner, gets the job done, but I'd prefer Spybot and CCleaner to Windows Defender, all three are free as well)

and a few other clients for things:

If you use Instant Messaging (or anyone that uses the system does) ditch the vendor client (AIM, Y!, etc) and go for Pidgin IM, which removes ads (and therefore connection to marketing (read: spyware))

If you want office software, choose from Microsoft Office, Corel Office, OpenOffice, or Sun Star Office, all are good choices, OpenOffice is free to all, Star Office is free (or highly reduced) to educational use, and Microsoft/Corel are commerically available

I'd ditch any P2P client you have, as P2P opens the computer up to loads of spyware, adware, and worms, which makes it bad (and then add the whole legal grey area part on top of that...generally its a bad idea).

Service Pack 2 is available from Microsoft, although I would suggest downloading the direct package instead of using Windows Updater (so much easier to do it this way).

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