The art of keeping your computer running smoothly is one that takes patience and some computer-prowess. Many try to turn your computer into a reference about you, which holds information such as Name, Address, Credit Card Number and so much more, or sometimes they may use your computer as their own to attack government servers. The list of things that can dramatically affect your computer is numerous.
1. Viruses: They can do so many things, depending on which virus that has infected you.
2. Trojans: Some crackers may use you for amusement; God knows how many countless forums there are where "Script Kiddies" brag about how they took over some "newbies" computer and practically destroy it.
3. Spyware: As the name implies, spyware basically just finds stuff about you and sends it to the programmer. They can range from "Bonzi Buddy" to cookies left by websites.
There is far more but I'm sure you want to know what to do how to keep your computer running smoothly.
Getting Rid of Current Problems:
The first thing I suggest to do is scanning your computer for viruses but what if you have no antivirus software? Fear not because some websites give free reliable online virus scans, such as:
PCPitstop AntiVirus Online Scan: http://www.pcpitstop.com/antivirus/avload.asp
Trend Micro's free online (Housecall) virus scanner: http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
Panda ActiveScan Online Virus Scan: http://www.pandasoftware.com/activescan/co...n_principal.htm
Symantec's Online Scan: http://security2.norton.com/
BitDefender Free Online Virus Scan: http://www.bitdefender.com/scan/licence.php
**Note: Also I would run these virus scans monthly even if you do have an antivirus but be sure to disable it before scanning, it may cause an error. Also disable any proxys that may be in use, the website may scan the proxy instead of your computer.
If you find any viruses, just either clean them or delete them. Okay well now that's done you need software to keep your computer virus free. I suggest NOD32 if you are willing to pay, the site is www.nod32.com, but if you don't want to pay then stick to AVG, many may disagree but AVG isn't the best, though it is good, nonetheless. Here's a link to a download for AVG: http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_dwnl_free.php, keep in mind you will need to register but it's still free and you may use it indefinitely.
Also, if you know what virus you are infected with you can always go to http://securityreponse.symantec.com and get a specific removal tool. They also provide free virus information, which is always helpful.
** Note: It is very crucial to keep your antivirus up to date. Update at least once every two weeks and also don't forget to scan at least once a month. **
Increasing Browsing Speed and Staying Safe
In your temporary Internet files, this is where all the pictures that were displayed in your browser and all the pages you've been: the history. These should be deleted regularly to save space and increase browsing speed. Keep in mind many viruses reside in your temporary Internet files. To delete them open Internet explorer and go to:
Tools --> Internet Options --> General (It's a tab) And click delete temporary internet files (check offline content), Delete cookies and last but not least delete the history.
Keep in mind; deleting some cookies will log you off on sites such as forums. You will need to re-login. Also, you may not want to delete the cache if you have 56 k or lower. This will hinder your speed because the cache saves pages on your hardrive, instead of reloading it.
Cleaning Your Registries
****READ BEFORE USING****
Before attempting to use the registries, remember, messing around with it can destroy your computer. Do not delete anything unless you are 100% it is obsolete and you are sure you don't need it.
What your registry is, from Microsoft themselves: "The Registry contains information that Windows continually references during operation, such as profiles for each user, the applications installed on the computer and the types of documents that each can create, property sheet settings for folders and application icons, what hardware exists on the system, and which ports are being used." Your registries can hold lots of invalid information about programs you've deleted already and such. To improve performance and reliability you should clean it out. Of course not manually, I will give a list of some programs that help in cleaning your registries. Remember to always make a backup of your registry before using any program. To do this, follow these steps:
Backing up your registries Go to start --> Go to run --> type "RegEdit" (without the quotation marks) and press enter --> Click on "My computer" and when it is highlighted just click file and export. Choose a name and save it somewhere. To restore your registry, simply double click the "reg" file you saved.
Now for the free registry cleaners: RegScrubXP: http://www.freedownloadscenter.com/Reviews/r882.html
Regsupreme: http://www.macecraft.com/. This registry cleaner is not free but it does have a trial period, which is still quite helpful.
Okay this is VERY important; it is absolutely crucial for windows. You must do windows update! It is absolute essential. Did you know just by visiting a site, if you have an un-patched version of windows you can be hacked? Yes, just by visiting a site. Now, this can all be fixed by updating windows (Yes, windows is that buggy). To update windows just go to: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/. It is very important you update, do so at least every month and it may take a few times to download all the critical updates, but you shouldnt be lazy about a thing like this.
Fix Errors and Increase Performance.
First run scandisk, it can be found at one of two places. On some computers you can go to - Start --> "Programs" Or "All Programs" --> "Accessories" --> "System Tools" --> "Scandisk. If scandisk is not there, (like with my computer) go to My Computer --> Right-click on Drive C or whatever you main hard drive is --> Then click "Properties" --> Then click the "Tools" tab at the top, and click "Scandisk."
When you choose scandisk, you may need to restart before you can, it may ask, "May scandisk run on next restart," allow it to and restart. When you are done scandisk "defrag" your computer. To do it, just go to: Start --> "Programs" Or "All Programs" --> "Accessories" --> "System Tools" --> "Disk Defragmenter" This tool will speed up your computer and make everything run smoother. Though you may need to "defragment" more than once for your computer to be fully defragmented.
Turn Off System Restore to Save Space
By default, Windows XP keeps backups system files in the System Volume Information folder. This can eat up valuable space on your hard drive. If you don't want Windows to back up your system files then do the following:
Open the Control Panel --> Double-click on System --> Click the System Restore tab --> Check "Turn off System Restore on all drives" --> Click Apply.
**Note: If you turn this off, you will not be able to reset mistakes that you have made unless you turn it on again. If you are new to computers I would recommend leaving this on.
Well, Windows XP goes into a state of hibernation, basically its sort of like turning off automatically when you dont use it. But it takes up valuable resources, which is equal to your RAM! If you do not use hibernation then disable it by doing the following:
Start --> Control Panel --> Performance and Maintenance --> Power Options --> Hibernate Tab --> and uncheck the Enable Hibernation box.
Disable Graphics for Performance
Windows XP is a very graphic-rich operating system. The result is inevitable consumption of precious resources. If you can do away with some of these fancy effects, we can speed up your operating system with just enough graphics to make XP usable. But XP is supposed to look "appealing" right? Well, we will not get too drastic, so well just shut down a few unnecessary features.
These are but suggestions. If you're running the newest and greatest hardware, don't look forward to too much from these adjustments; this is only needed for older systems or the lot of who are power hungry. These are designed for the users who are in need of a few tweaks to bring their machine to a level of speed, which they don't currently enjoy.
Right-click your desktop then go to "Properties, then the "Settings" tab. Lower your bit depth here. I personally rather to keep my colour bit higher but, that is my personal opinion
But wait, don't close your "Display Properties" window, select the "Appearance" (without quotations) tab, the "Effects" (again without quotations). Uncheck what you don't really need like "Show shadows under menus" or "Show window contents while dragging" and select "Standard" screen fonts. All this does is it makes everything look more realistic and such, like adding shadows.
And again, still stay there, under "Display Properties, click the "Themes" tab. Under "Theme, select "Windows Classic. Looks a bit like Windows 95, doesn't it? Ok, now we're finally done with the "Display Properties and click "Apply, then "ok.
Let's move on to performance. Right-click "My Computer, then "Properties. Choose the "Advanced" tab. Under "Performance" click "Settings. This is a click on "Adjust for best performance. All the checked boxes are cleared, and what you're left with is a plain XP box. It may not be as "pretty" as it once was, but I think you'll find that your system response will be much snappier.
Though, I have kept all these, "bells and whistles" because I have grown accustomed to it, but everyone has their own opinion.
Disable useless XP services
Most of this is information is from myself, some I got from: http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/service411.htm An amazing tweaking site. Keep in mind, mine is a very miniscule list compared to blackviper.
(To disable a service go to run and type services.msc (without the quotations). Then double click on the service and select the start-up type as disabled).
The following services should be disabled:
This service allows you receive alerts from an administrator, and unless you are on network you wont need this. So do your computer a favour and disable it.
Used for sharing what you cut and paste with other computers, typically on a network. Normally takes 1.3 MB of RAM, and quite useless.
Basically it indexes the location of files to speed up the search of a file, extremely useless and also a resource hog.
Distributed Link Tracking Client
This basically updates a link on a network. In a nutshell if you have a shortcut on networked computer, for example computer A and you move the file on computer B, this will update the new location on computer A. So if youre not on a network this is useless.
This will be required for domains and VPN connections, if you do not use either you wont need this.
Remote Registry Service
This is basically what it sounds like. It probably will be cracked and turned into an exploit in the future, if you want to play it safe disable it.
Messenger This has nothing to do with MSN messenger; this is what allows those grey pop-ups to appear on your screen advertising universities and messenger blocker for money. Truly annoying.
For more information please click here.
Remote Desktop Help Session Manager
If you use remote desktop (connecting to someone elses computer and have the ability to see what theyre doing or help them solve a problem) then leave this on, if not disable it.
This basically allows other users to start-up processes or applications with higher privelages. No one else uses my computer, and I wouldnt want anyone else to, so I dont need it and you may not need it as well.
This supports the use of a Smart Card, and unless you have a Smart Card disable this.
Smart Card Helper
Functions that deal with a Smart Card, if you do not have one, and then disable this service.
This is for all the XP flashy-ness, all the colours and shadows. This can take up to 12 MB RAM alone. The average computer comes with 256. Thats roughly 5% of you total RAM, do you think its worth it?
Wireless Zero Configuration
This basically provides automatic configuration for wireless devices. If you do use wireless devices such as a wireless keyboard or mouse then do not disable this. But if you dont then feel free to disable it.
Free Precious RAM
There is an amazing program that can free RAM, by a lot. This is perfect for home computers or servers. You can get it at: http://www.ams.as.ro/dc.php be sure to customize it properly, its worth 100x more if all the best features are added. Use the help file to help you.
Theres also another great RAM freeing tool known as, FreeRAM XP Pro, its is completely free and can be obtained at http://www.yourwaresolutions.com/.
Cleaning your Prefetch
Well, your prefetch needs to be emptied every once in awhile. It carries old and obsolete information. Go to C:\windows\prefetch and if it is a bit too large just delete everything inside.
Mystery Behind The Running Processes
Well, Im sure by now you pressed ctrl - alt - del and clicked the processes tab, if not, do so now. Well, now you see a whole list of odd processes running. Now you may be wondering, what are these programs? I dont remember starting any of these up. Well, some of these can actually be spyware or viruses, running in the background.
A good way to find out what most mean is to go to the following site, which has a complete, and thorough list of all the processes and what they do. Just go here: http://www.answersthatwork.com/Taskl.../tasklist.htm/.
Speeding up your Startup
When I turn on my computers, it takes so long for all my programs to load, if that sounds like you, then I can help. Well, did you know you can choose what programs to load and what not to load.
Its real simple, all you need to do is go to Start --> run and type msconfig without the quotations, as usual. Go to the Startup tab and look at the list. Thats everything that starts-up with your computer. If it takes long to load, then you probably have a long list. On average there shouldnt be more than 15 things on the list.
I bet youre wondering, what the hell is each thing? Well, some may be easy to decipher if it is needed to startup and some may not be. Luckily someone has made a list for just that, to see what each thing is and how important it is for starting up.
First, to disable a program you only need to uncheck it and click apply and restart.
Alright, back to the list, you can find the list here: http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup...tartup_all.php.
**Note: Be sure not to delete any windows components, or youll regret it. **
Like previous versions of windows, it takes long time to restart or shutdown windows XP when the "Exit Windows" sound is enabled. To solve this problem you must disable this useless sound.
Click Start button --> Go to settings (Ignore this if your control panel is in your start menu) --> Control Panel --> Sound, Speech and Audio devices --> Sounds and Audio Devices --> Sounds.
Then under program events and the windows menu click on the "Exit Windows" sub-menu and highlight it. Now from sounds you can select, choose "none, and then click Apply and lastly OK.
There should be a slight improvement when shutting down now.