There is a lot of misunderstanding
around Windows updates. If your PC is set to receive Automatic
Updates it will only receive those that Microsoft determine to be
High Priority, NOT any others. Periodically you must check
using the Windows Update link on the top left hand column of the All
Programs list in XP, otherwise you will find it in the All Programs
list in Vista and Windows 7. In XP wait for the page to load properly, then choose
the CUSTOM button. Let it do it's search then when it has
finished see what is shown as needed. It will list everything
that you need, and if it lists them generally YOU NEED THEM!!
You may notice in the left hand margin that it breaks the updates
needed into groups relating to Windows, Hardware and Software.
You should choose to accept ALL of them. Make sure they are
all ticked and then click on Download and Install. It will
even tell you how long it will take to download! Sometimes
updates must be carried out in a certain order. If this is the
case it will fail to install updates until they are installed in the
correct order. Just keep going to the Update site until it
tells you there are no more required. In Vista and 7 it will
tell you the situation re updates, and a button in the left margin
allows you to manually check should you wish.
Only by this method will you get any
driver and software updates that are non-critical. So often I
have to repair PC's that have had no updates done, ever!. The
updates will sometimes improve the speed of your PC as well. I
know it can be frustrating time wise to do these, but Microsoft
regularly put out updates, many of which improve the security of
your system, so don't forget them. If you do them regularly,
they will take no time at all.
A much underused utility built into
Windows. It can be found by clicking on All Programs, then
Accessories, then System Tools. I recommend leaving the
default settings, of "C" drive, and click OK, When the box
comes up with the options unless you know what you are doing, I
suggest you just check that the Temporary Internet Files box, the
Temporary Files box and the Recycle Bin box is ticked and just click OK.
Do not tick any others. This will clean out all the Temporary Internet Files that
clog up your
drive as all other Temporary Files, that Windows creates as it runs.
If you do this daily or every other day, it will keep you PC clean
and quick. You can even schedule this to run as a "Scheduled
Task" using Task Scheduler, but you will need to run it on a user
account that has a password, otherwise it will not run.
Again an underused utility built into
Windows. Found by clicking on All Programs, then Accessories,
then System Tools. I suggest that you run this fortnightly,
although it will depend upon the amount of use your PC gets.
Once it has opened, click on the "C" Drive and then click Analyse.
It will then tell you if it needs defragmenting. If it does,
then click on Defragment and let it do it for itself. I
recommend doing this when you can walk away and leave it to do it
for itself, rather than carry on using it. DISK DEFRAGMENT SHOULD
DBE TURNED OFF IF YOU HAVE A SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE FITTED, as it
may damage the drive.
ALWAYS USE A FIREWALL. The
firewall in Windows XP is fairly ineffective, although the one in
Vista is slightly better, and that in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 is much better
still. If running XP I recommend the use of
a third party firewall, just to provide an appropriate level of
control and security. A separate firewall is not needed in
either Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 installations.
For older XP installations I recommend the use of ZoneAlarm Free,
which can be downloaded from my downloads page. Make sure you choose
what they call Basic Firewall Protection and make sure that when it
is installing you read the windows that come up, and choose the free
or basic options otherwise you will be using the trial version or
end up paying for the Security Suite. Whilst there is a
definite need to use a separate firewall in XP, there is less need
in Vista and no need, in my view, in Windows 7 or Windows 8 or 8.1. There are other free firewalls
available, but I prefer ZoneAlarm as do many millions of others.
When in use it acts like a guard for
your computer. When a program it doesn't recognise attempts to
access, or accept access from, the internet and what it calls the
Trusted Zone, by which it means areas it can trust, ZoneAlarm will
ask for permission from you, the user. It will present in the
lower right hand corner of the screen a ZoneAlarm Security Alert
box. Read what it says you may recognise the program as the
one you are using. If you are trying to do something that
would require Internet access, then place a tick in the small box
entitled "Remember this Setting", and click Allow. If you are
not sure simply Click "Deny" and close the program you are using.
Then re-open the program and retry to do what you wanted. If
the warning comes up again, this time place a tick in the "Remember
this Setting" box and Click "Allow". Then you know that the
program should access the internet. You will not get the
warning again for that program, unless there has been an update
which has slightly changed the program, like those for example for
Internet Explorer that come down automatically. Sometimes you will
get two boxes of different colours. One will be for access to
the Trusted Zone and the other for access to the Internet.
Treat them the same.
Don't worry, you won't need to do this
for every program, as ZoneAlarm recognises some automatically, but
will re ask for permission when a program changes.
Periodically there will be ZoneAlarm
updates that will make themselves known to you, if they
significantly change ZoneAlarm. Follow the instructions
carefully and again make sure you choose the basic or free options.
Same as a firewall, ALWAYS use a good
Anti-Virus program. There are several out there, all free.
On my downloads page you will find a link to the AVG Free AntiVirus,
now version 2014.
This is a world class and world used piece of software that is truly
excellent. Use it and although it checks updates for itself,
periodically manually check, either right clicking on the tray icon
and selecting "Update Now" or open the main screen and select
"Update" from the menus on the left hand side of the AVG Interface
screen. It also contains an email scanner,
assuming that you are using Outlook or Outlook Express, rather than
a non resident programme (Hotmail or Yahoo) or AOL. It is a
VERY good piece of software and FREE. You must however set it
up properly as by default it does NOT scan. You must go the
Options menu, then Advanced Settings, and expand Schedules and click to "Enable this
Task". The scheduled scan can then be set to what days and
times you like to suit you. I recommend an
every day or couple of days scan, dependent upon the amount of use
the PC gets. Daily if it is on all the time.
USE SOME!! or rather an
Anti-Spyware program. On my downloads page I provide a link to
Spyware Terminator and SpyBot. Spyware Terminator or SpyBot
preferred choices. Spyware Terminator is resident on the machine, does not slow
the PC down unnecessarily and asks permission for registry changes.
It self-updates and daily runs auto-scans having sought permission
from the user. It defaults to run if you don't refuse it.
It has caused some problems on PC's that are already infected with
some malware and will then slow the PC down considerably. If
this is the case I recommend that you uninstall it, and treat the
This is different to spyware, although
some programs tend to find both. On my downloads page there is
a link to ADW Cleaner. I recommend the use of this,
although there are other free ones out there. Be aware though
that this does not install so you need to save the file on your
desktop before running. Simply double click the icon on the
desktop and agree to the terms and conditions, and click Scan, and
let it do its search. When finished click Clean and it will
remove all the rubbish.
Have fun and keep safe on the Internet!