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Unread 02-06-2005, 11:55 AM   #1
DIYOHMY
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How to keep your Windows PC clean

My PC always runs well... and the primary reason is that I use it as a utility machine, not an experimental toy. In my years of experience - there is a direct correlation between the computers that always seem to have problems, and owners who love to download and install every game, tool, utility, toy, trial, betaware, freeware, and application that they stumble across. Not only does it slow down the machine - but makes it much more prone to hackers, viruses, etc. Installing and removing software can cause defragmentation (fancy term for inefficient hard disk use) and can fill the registry up with stuff that is often not removed (Windows "logo" applications are supposed to remove everything, including from the registry, but not everyone does, especially the freebies). Also I don't use "applets"... I spent years downloading all sorts of cute utilities that each have one little purpose - I gave up that habit - the hidden prices are not worth it). If you don't know what I'm talking about - good - don't worry.

*** My Philosophy ***
I use two PC's. My new one is purely a utility machine. I use it for photos, music, video, email, wordprocessing, spreadsheets, and a few reliable games that I play regularly. My old one is for experimenting - sort of a quarantine machine for stuff that I will only need once, or very infrequently. yes - I still download stuff, but I'm much pickier about it, and I only install unknown stuff on my "old" machine. My old machine it 100% toastable. I can reformat it, delete it, whatever... there is nothing on it that I need, ever. If it's important to me, it's been backed up to CD/DVD.
******************

Here are my suggestions for keeping my PC fast and clean. If you're a big gamer, and you install/remove new games all the time, this may not work for you. If you don't think you can subscribe to my philosophy, then just do the next step (backup your files) and go have a beer. If you continue, print this first

DISCLAIMER: If this makes sense to you, and you consider yourself an intermediate user... go for it. If you are a beginner computer user, or if this doesn't make sense, then I'd suggest you not proceed and just avoid downloading everything you see.

1) Backup your files!!! Get a CD/DVD burner. Burn a disk with all of your personal files that are important to you including:docs, pics, email, contacts, calendar, installs that you don't have the installation disks for - ie. downloaded from the web. Don't worry about "settings" - colors, fonts, program options. In the worse case scenario, you can recreate all this stuff, but if you lose your files you'll be bummed. Trust me - if you only worry about stuff you create - you'll do a better job of backing up regularly. Don't use a "backup" program... just copy files to a CD/DVD. It's much easier to verify that you have a valid backup.

2) Verify your backup - restore them (temporarily) to your old machine. This will help you verify that you have a valid backup.

3) If you use your PC for video, photos, music, etc... get a big hard drive. Use the one that came with the PC for Windows and applications, and the new drive for all of your content. This will keep your machine from slowing down over time and will make future backups much easier.

4) Rebuild your machine: Chances are that your new machine was filled with crud that the PC maker was paid to install. Chances are that you won't use most of it. So if you have the option to just install Windows - do that. If not - then after "rebuilding", immediately go into Add/Remove programs and remove everything you don't use. If you have the option to "reformat" your hard drive, do it when installing Windows.

5) Install a firewall and get connected to the internet. The one that comes with Windows is fine. If you're not sure, just proceed to the next step and let Windows Update do it for you.

6) Run "Windows Update" Get all the critical service packs and configure it to automatically download and update your machine with future updates. Do this before installing all of your software and content.

7) Install Anti-virus software. Make sure to update the signatures frequently (automatically is preferred).

8) Install the software that you use regularly. If you're not sure - DON'T install it, until you need it.

9) Restore your files. If you're short on disk space, just put the ones back that you use regularly. Put them on the second disk if you can, so that you don't mix content with applications. Don't worry if you only have one hard drive, but if you are a purist, use a second drive for your content.

That's it - you've got a clean box.

Now - toast that old machine, and give it a fresh start too. Basically, you're just starting all over, but if you can subscribe to my philosophy, your new PC will stay highly-tuned for a long, long time.
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Unread 02-06-2005, 12:30 PM   #2
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Other things to consider

I suggest you also load some kind of spyware and ad-ware checker and blocker. Lots of websites will dump stuff on your system you never see hitting you. Some of the antivirus programs are starting to look for these as well.

Make a full system backup after you get everything set the way you like it.

Make a full system backup before you do a Windows update. I have seen an update from MicroSoft totally hose a system more than once. For these kinds of backups a backup utility should be used.

There are also some nice backup utilities out there to automaticlly backup YOUR important stuff automaticlly based on schedules you set up.

As with most of life all these ideas are tradeoffs between money, time, and risk. They are things that you should consider in your own environment.
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The opinions expressed in this post are based on my life experiences and may or may not reflect YOUR reality.
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Unread 02-06-2005, 02:45 PM   #3
DIYOHMY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fant
I suggest you also load some kind of spyware and ad-ware checker and blocker. ...

Make a full system backup before you do a Windows update. I have seen an update from MicroSoft totally hose a system more than once. For these kinds of backups a backup utility should be used.

There are also some nice backup utilities out there ...
Microsoft has a beta Spyware program: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/secu...e/default.mspx

nice backup utilities out there... yea - do you trust them? If you really, really want a "Full System Backup/Restore" application - go buy one... don't download a free one I have survived for years with a simple CD/DVD writer. Whatever you do, test it. If you do not test your backup by restoring - you have no idea if it will help you when you need it.

As far as Windows updates "hosing"... like I said in the previous post... it happens very rarely... and people who have no issues rarely post saying that they had a good experience...so don't let fear prevent you from using them.

Also - Microsoft has a philosophy called "dog fooding"... it means before a major update or some software like Windows and Office, there are over 50,000 people using it internally. And most of those people are using other software from Microsoft... so when I say trust software from Microsoft, I mean it. If you are using the same stuff they do, chances are you will not run into a problem. If you use lots of other stuff that probably isn't in use... you may have a greater chance of having trouble. Microsoft DOES compatibility testing with other vendor's software (i.e. browsers, antivirus, antispy, word processors, etc.) but if you want the benefit of over 50,000 people helping to find issues... use MS software when you can. I'm not saying "only use MS software"... I'm simply saying that if you do, you'll benefit from 50,000 very vocal employees who don't hesitate to let people know what needs to be fixed.
It was often a huge headache while working there, but I know - once it's realeased, it's made it over a huge hurdle.

How many companies out there do you think dogfood major releases like that?

Happy computing!
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Unread 02-06-2005, 03:02 PM   #4
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They must have released Windows ME in spite of all the internal complaints eh?
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Unread 02-06-2005, 04:01 PM   #5
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Without going into too much detail... yep!
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Unread 02-06-2005, 07:09 PM   #6
davem
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Just getting some good natured digs in. I appreciate the effort you're taking to make these posts.
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Unread 02-06-2005, 07:25 PM   #7
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I was one of the unfortunate beta testers of WinME. You know it was bad because MS decided to give each beta tester a fully licensed release version of it. I admit, I used it for a long time.

Currently I'm a big fan of Fedora (FC3) Linux. At work my primary OS is Windows XP, sp2.
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Unread 02-06-2005, 07:29 PM   #8
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I'm running FC3 right now at home and love it. Using apt-get for updates, debian style. I loved debian when I used it too, but FC is prettier to look at. At work I'm still running RedHat 9, I just keep updating it to the latest everything. That machine dual boots to XP pro, but I only do that once every 2 months when my windows password expires and I need to reset it.
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Unread 02-06-2005, 08:13 PM   #9
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Well Dave, if ya don't need Windows, why bother with it at all?
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Unread 02-06-2005, 10:10 PM   #10
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Our building network is half windows. I have to share documents with other people in the company who live in MS land so I have to be able to log in to the network. I can do that from linux, but I haven't learned the trick of changing my password from linux yet. I should probably do that.
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Unread 02-13-2005, 08:42 PM   #11
Hamilton
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Hijackthis

I use hijack this to remove spyware from my pc that somehow(?) makes
it past panda antivirus/firewall combined with norton autoprotect/firewall
and my popup blocker. I tend to catch every virus as it enters and either
quarantine it or fix/delete it but the spyware seems to be finding a way
in around these programs. I dont recommend this program to all but if your
comfortable with backing up files and know how to do intermediate to
skilled computer tasks you may want to take a look at it. i dont have a link
but a simple google search will produce a ton of hits.
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Unread 02-13-2005, 08:48 PM   #12
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I thought i would come back and add the importance of Defragging
on a regular basis, this can help to keep your pc running smoothly
when combined with all the above advice by the other fine folks here
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Unread 02-13-2005, 08:52 PM   #13
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Jack, try Mozilla Firefox browser and see if your spyware activity doesn't drop off.
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Unread 02-13-2005, 08:56 PM   #14
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Hmmm,.... Ok. ill give it a look, and check it out thanx!
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Unread 02-13-2005, 10:55 PM   #15
Raymond S
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Dave, I was being bombarded by spyware until my brother installed Mozilla Firefox on my computer a couple of weeks ago. Unbelievable difference.
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