Friday, March 21, 2008


If you're not going to play smart with your computer, I'm at least going to teach you how to play safe. If you're going to do something stupid, do it smart.

The fact of the matter is that the internet is not safe for your computer. It can be, and with some education, you can have a spyware and virus free computer like I do and many other people do. Most people don't apply common sense to computing because they assume that anything out there is safe, and that's bad. By not thinking, you can do real damage to your machine, and it can be both costly and time-consuming to repair it. And unless you're someone like me or one of the other computer junkies on the forums, messing with things you don't understand is a bad idea.

I'm not totally trying to instill fear into you as a reader and as a user. Your computer is a wonderful tool and for most users is perfectly safe. I'm also not telling you to go out and spend money on expensive subscription-based software to keep your computer safe. I AM going to tell you how to save potentially hundreds of dollars in service. There are some very simple things you can do to protect yourself.

This guide is principally for Windows users, although most of it is just good computing sense. Macintosh and Linux users aren't going to run into these problems with anywhere near the kind of frequency Windows users are. While you aren't bulletproof and should still practice sound computing, you're also not at as great a risk.

Macintosh users aren't at as great a risk because Mac OS X has excellent security built into it, and because the percentage of Mac users on the market just quite honestly isn't profitable to attack. That's subject to change if Apple Boot Camp has a major effect on the market, however, and please note that if you're running Windows on your Mac - and even Apple warns you about this - you're at the same risk as if you were running it on a regular PC.

Linux users aren't at much risk because Linux tends to be very secure, and because its market share for regular consumers is at least as minor at Mac OS X's. Honestly, Linux is too complicated to get running for the average user; the people who run it can usually either serve as their own tech support or know someone who can (usually the same person that got them into Linux).

Spyware and malware are software that gets installed on your system without your consent or even your knowledge, and costs precious computing cycles and resources. While these are almost never fundamentally harmful to the computer itself (outside of dragging its performance to a woeful crawl), they're more of a threat to you, the user. Spyware can log your actions on your machine, including the sites you visit, the e-mail you send, and send it to unscrupulous parties. While most of it is harmless, or at least however harmless you think meticulously tracking someone's internet usage is and reporting it to advertisers can be, it can be an ongoing nuisance and can severely hamper your enjoyment of your computer.

Viruses take care of anything that spyware and malware don't, and it can damage your system, possibly even irreparably. They can corrupt your operating system installation, corrupt your data, and damage your hardware.

These two classes of software are responsible for 90% (arbitrary figure) of the computing problems most users have. In my personal work and in my work at Best Buy, these were the culprits of most problems; as much so that many shops don't even have to actually do anything in particular to fix computers infected with these, they can run software and scripts that remove the harmful software from an afflicted machine. Note, however, that the damage done by that software can have a permanent effect on your operating system that can really only be fixed by reformatting the drive - erasing everything on it and reinstalling the operating system. Note that if you don't know what reformatting is and don't understand EXACTLY the procedure for doing it, don't mess with it. I'll talk more about it in a bit.

I'm going to tell you something that's probably going to blow your mind: you don't NEED subscription based spyware/malware software.
I'm going to go further and blow your mind again: you don't NEED to spend money to protect yourself.
The guys at the computer store are going to try and sell you on software packages you don't need. Your computer is going to come with antivirus and antispyware software you don't need. There are just three things you do need to keep your system safe.

Ingredient #1 for keeping your computer safe:
Using a basic, free anti-virus program that runs in the background is a good way to keep your system safe from any virus. While trying to instill a sense of the damage that a virus can do to your system, it's important you understand that antiviral software is less an active protector than it is an insurance policy. We don't keep home insurance because we expect the house to burst into flames; we keep it just in case it does. Here is a list of three popular free antivirus programs for your PC:
* Avast! Home Edition. Free Antivirus Software, for home users, probably the most popular on the web, download and information link: * AVG Free -- Another good free virus software, you don't have to register to use this like you do with Avast, download and information link: * AntiVir Personal Edition Classic - Offers the effective protection against computer viruses for the individual and private use on a single PC-workstation. It detects and removes more than 50,000 viruses, download and information link:
To protect your system from spyware and malware, you'll want to periodically run a combination of free anti-spyware programs. I recommend running Ad Aware AND Spybot; one program can miss spyware the other will detect. Note that these don't need to run on startup; just run scans with them periodically to make sure your system is safe.

Ingredient #2 for keeping your computer safe:
Use Opera or Firefox as a web browser. Either of these two programs will immediately remove most spyware and malware from the equation. A lot of it gets into your system through Internet Explorer. Because IE is so closely integrated with Windows, it leaves plenty of easy ways for these things to get into your system. By not running IE, you've removed yourself from the spyware eating majority. And they're both free. I personally prefer Opera, but actually recommend Firefox to newer users. While Opera is nice, it doesn't have the compatibility of Firefox. Still, try them both and see which one you like better.
Running these two pieces of software is an excellent plan to keep yourself safe on the internet. I want to stress that you do NOT want to buy commercial software. I know it seems logical because a large, money-making, reputable corporation is behind them, but the subscription fees are ridiculous, and the software tends to be bloated and difficult to use.

Ingredient #3 for keeping your computer safe:
Make sure you have Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed. Assuming you're all Windows users, Service Pack 2 substantially bolsters the security of Windows XP. Granted, that isn't saying much, but it says enough. Some of what I'm talking about in this article is going to assume you have Service Pack 2 installed. If you don't, install it by running Windows Update. You may have to install several critical updates from Windows Update before Service Pack 2 appears. Note also that you may want to back up your important data before installing Service Pack 2. While most of the time it's a non-issue, every so often, Service Pack 2 has been known to hose an existing Windows installation.

Schedule a restart operation

Schedule a restart operation with Windows XP's Shutdown utility

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Professional editions.
Wouldn't it be nice if each morning your Windows XP machine restarted before you got to work so you had a fresh
system to work on each day?
To help you automate this type of operation, Windows XP comes with a command-line utility called
Shutdown.exe, which can restart your system. To make this happen automatically, you can configure it to run at a
specified time with the Scheduled Tasks tool. Here's how:

1. Go to Control Panel Scheduled Tasks.
2. Double-click Add Scheduled Task to launch the Scheduled Task Wizard.
3. Click Next and then click the Browse button.
4. Access the Windows\System32 folder, select Shutdown.exe, and click Open.
5. Follow the wizard through the next two screens to give the task a name and choose a schedule.
6. Enter your user account name and password and click Next.
7. Select the Open Advanced Properties check box and click Finish.
8. In the task's Properties dialog box, add the /r parameter to the end of the command line in the Run text
box and click OK. (Be sure to include a space between the last character in the command name and the
first character in the parameter list.)
9. Enter your user account name and password and click OK.

When the Shutdown utility runs, you'll momentarily see a small dialog box on your screen before the system

Make XP Boot Faster

Stopping Unneeded Startup Services and Making XP boot faster !

Along with the core operating system and programs that Windows XP runs when it
starts, there is also a host of services involved. Many of these services are necessary
for Windows XP to operate correctly. However, many of them are for features in
Windows XP that you may not use at all. You can peruse the services and disable any
service that you do not want to run. The fewer services that run, the more quickly
Windows XP will boot.

To reduce the number of services that start on bootup, you can access two different
areas of Windows XP.

o The first is the System Configuration Utility. You can do that by entering the
command “msconfig” in the run menu.

Start Run “msconfig” (without quotes) Hit Enter

The Services tab shows you the services that start when the computer
boots. You can stop a service from starting by simply clearing the check box
next to the service and clicking OK.

o However, before you do so, there is another way to disable services that you
may prefer because the interface gives you more information about the service
in question.
Open Control Panel Administrative Tools Services or

Start Run “services.msc” Hit Enter

Take a quick look at common services you may want to live without:

Automatic Updates: This service enables Windows XP to check the Web
automatically for updates. If you don't want to use Automatic Updates, you can
disable the service.

Computer Browser: If your computer is not on a network, you don't need this service.
If you are on a network, leave it alone.

DHCP Client: If you are not on a network, you do not need this service. If you are on
a small workgroup, you can still increase boot time by configuring manual IP.

DNS Client: If you are not on a network, you do not need this service.

Error Reporting and Event Log: You don't have to use these services but they can be
very helpful, so I would leave them configured as automatic.

Fax: If you don't use your computer for fax services, you can disable this one.

Help and Support: Disable if you never use the Windows XP Help and Support

IMAPI CD-Burning COM: This service enables you to burn CDs on your computer.
If you never burn CDs, you can disable the service without any second thoughts.

Indexing Service: Your computer keeps an index of all the files. But if you rarely
search for files, the service is just a resource hog. You can stop it

Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing: If you do not use these features, plz

Infrared Monitor: If you do not use infrared devices, you can disable this service.

Messenger: This service sends alert messages on a local area network (it is not the
same as Windows Messenger). If you are not on a network, you can disable this

Print Spooler: If you do not do any printing from the computer, you can disable this
service. If you print, make sure you leave it as automatic.

Remote Registry: This service allows remote users to modify the Registry on your

computer. If you are not on a network, you can disable this service.

System Restore Service: This service allows you to use System Restore. If you have
turned off System Restore anyway, you do not need to turn off the service.

Themes: If you do not use themes, you can disable this service.

Windows Image Acquisition: If you do not use scanners or digital cameras, you can

Wireless Zero Configuration: If do not use wireless networking devices, you can

Ergonomic Tips for Computer Users

Download Ergonomic Tips for Computer

Download-Click here !