Thursday, July 9, 2009

Preventive PC Hygiene

Attention: On Windows 2000, XP and Vista systems all of the following has to be done by a user with administrator privilege. This is mandatory!

Remember: Use Firefox and Thunderbird instead of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express; this is HUGE insurance against most malicious software!

With a working Internet connection do steps 1 trough 6 of this “computer hygiene” routine once every week; do step 7 once every month.

Please keep in mind that despite “Automatic Updates” in Windows the computer will miss an update. My experience shows again and again that especially on dial-up connections this happens way too often.

It is absolutely necessary to download and install all these updates, even if you only have a slow dial-up connection!

1   Run Microsoft Update. Click the Microsoft Update icon. In XP select the Express button, in Vista only install “important updates”; follow the prompts. Important: Do this repeatedly until it says “no more updates available” or “Windows is up to date”.

2   avast! Antivirus does not need to be manually updated, If you want to do it anyway: Right click on the small “a” in a blue circle in the tray area (right bottom), then click on “Program Update” to update the program and the virus definitions (iAVS).

3   Scan your computer for advertisement software with Ad-Aware.
Ad-Aware may run 5 to 30 minutes depending on the speed of your computer and the number of files. Long run times are common, especially on computers with several user accounts and thousands of pictures or other files.

    a First click on Web Update; allow all updates to download and install.

    b Click on Scan System, check Smart Scan and click on Scan Now.

    c If after the scan there are any objects listed click Perform Actions
       Now. The program knows what to delete and what to quarantine.

    d Close the program.

4   Scan your computer for spyware with SpyBot Search & Destroy. SpyBot S&D may run quite some time depending on the speed of your computer and number of files.

    a First click on “Search for Updates”. If you are asked for a download
      place choose any location in the USA. Place checkmarks in all empty
       check boxes and click Download. When downloading is done click Exit.
       In rare cases you may have to restart the program manually.

    b After updating it is good practice to “Immunize”. In the menu column
       on the left click on Immunize. If “Unprotected Items” is greater zero
      (counter in top right of the Immunize screen) click on button
       "+ Immunize". 

    c Click on “Search & Destroy” and “Check for problems” to start scan.

    d If after the scan there are any items listed click on “Fix selected
      problems” and confirm the removal of the listed malicious items.

    e Close the program.

5   Run Spyware Blaster from the shortcut on your desktop.

    a First click on “Download latest protection updates” (bottom-most line
      in the screen), then click on Check for Updates. If there are updates
      they will download and install automatically.

    b Click on “Protection Status” (left, top menu entry in the window).

    c Click on “Enable All Protection” (third line from bottom of the screen).

    d When the progress bar is turned off close the program.

6   Run ATF-Cleaner. Click Select All and Empty Selected. When ATF-Cleaner is done confirm OK and click Exit.

7   For Windows XP: If you have lots of time and a stable 110V power supply run AusLogics Disk Defrag. Click Next and let the program finish! Ignore the sales pitch on the right side of the “… finished” screen.

     For Windows Vista/7: Schedule Disk Defragmenter for your C: drive to run at a time your computer is most likely turned on.

Re. “stable power supply”: For computers which store critical data I highly recommend an Uninterruptible Power Supply [UPS] and an external disk drive for backups.
For all other home computers a good surge suppressor is a MUST HAVE. “Normal” power strips are NOT sufficient!

Please remember: Loss of power while the computer is running is almost always disastrous!

With “good surge suppressor” I mean a unit with a connected equipment warranty of at least $30,000.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog.

Thank you in advance.

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