PC Protection and Maintenance

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Note: This is my first ever non-tweaking related section. I figured that sharing with you guys some of my knowledge on how I maintain my PC to be in tip-top shape and how to prevent viruses and hackers to ruin my weeks of adjustments just to include all the tweaks that I know with my system isnt really going to ruin my site's main theme or purpose. Right?


Im going to (as with most of my guides) keep this section as brief but direct as possible so that u guys will spend less time reading here and more time applying the knowledge I gave u guys into ur system.



=PC Protection=


This guide will require you to use different kinds of programs to protect your system. I will not give u guys any particular brand name coz different folks will have different opinions on w/c brand to use when it comes to softwares.


-An Antivirus program: The most common/popular brand names are Norton, AVG, McAfee and/or Pccillin. I recommend using NOD32 or Kaspersky though.

-A Software firewall program: The most common/popular brand names are ZoneAlarm, Tiny Personal, Sygate, and/or BlackIce Defender. I recommend using Agnitum Outpost for the best protection against hackers or Norton Personal for balance on hacker protection and ad blocking features.


-An Ad-ware and  Bot remover: I recommend that u use Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy for this one, their both free and effective. You can download them at:

www.lavasoft.nu and www.safer-networking.org




=Why Install/Use Those Progs?=

Antivirus Programs:

-Depending on how good ur AV prog is, it will prevent most (if not all) viruses from infecting and/or spreading into ur system. Most peeps think that opening emails or downloading files from known or trusted sites/people is already enough to keep ur system virus free. Although yes, doing that will help prevent viruses from infecting ur system, it will not totally prevent them from attacking ur system. U see, viruses doesn't only come from emails attachments or files downloaded from the net. Some are hidden on malicious websites and automatically infects the system who visited the website if an antivirus program is absent or disabled. Some automatically executes even if u haven't opened ur email attachments etc etc.


-As for those folks who always say that an AV prog is only a waste of HD space and system resources? Think about this, does losing all your important data, going through the hassle of re-installing ur OS and programs, and re-configuring them to suit ur preference better than spending a 50mb (or lower) HD space? Yeah, I don't think so to. However if system resources is really a prob b'coz u have an old machine, then configuring ur AV progs sensitivity in detecting a virus is one way of minimizing the amount of resources it uses. McAfee AV has a switch for the said function on its control panel shortcut, while Norton AV has a slider called Bloodhound w/c can be set to a lower setting. U can also disable the AV prog from running on background when u want to play games or even disable them from start-up and only enable them before logging on the net or opening/reading diskettes from other sources.


-Antivirus progs also has other different features like script blocking, auto-email attachment scanning, file inoculation, etc to further protect ur system against viruses. Some even comes in bundled with a Firewall program like Norton's.


-It is recommended that the very first program that u install after re-installing or installing ur OS is an AV prog and configure it to run on background while u work. And update the said program at least once a week, or as often as u can to keep ur virus database updated.


-Most people tend to think that using the most popular or common brand will make ur system virus free. Well, not really. U see, with today's AV progs, there is more to the software than just their brand names. Though its a known fact that there is no AV prog that is perfect and it is best to keep ur definition updated for best protection, there are some AV progs that are more consistent in detecting wild viruses. 2 of the most consistent is NOD32 and Kaspersky AV. Though some of u might have never heard of 'em, they are actually 2 of the best AV progs around. Not only are they excellent in detecting viruses, they also feature faster manual scanning speed, more frequent updates, less drag on system resources (Kaspersky isn't as good as NOD32 in this category though), better Trojan detection, etc etc.



Firewall Programs:

-Hackers are constantly searching for security holes on different OS's and/or programs. Although updates and patches are most of the time available when a security hole has been discovered, those who were already attacked find their update a little bit too late to install since the damage has already been done. Hackers can do different things with ur system depending on their skill or will. They can copy, read, edit, or delete files from ur system. They can also do damage that will force the victim to re-install his/her program or even his/her entire OS. They can even take control of ur system and make fun of u like play music, open ur cd-drives, programs etc (already happened twice to one of my friends). B'coz of those reasons it is really a good idea to safeguard your system and install a firewall program. And just like an AV prog, different firewall progs will have different kinds of extra features.


-It is recommended that u install a firewall program before logging in to the net. And look for updates at least once a week.



Ad-ware/Spyware removers:

-Although spywares are really not a threat to ur system, they have an effect on ur privacy and may even slow down ur internet connection at times. First of all, spyware or adware progs are programs that are installed on ur system (most of the time w/o ur permission or knowledge) to monitor ur net behavior and send the data to the company where the program came from and in return send u advertisements that they think will most interest you. So if u surf mostly on sport related websites, the program that contains a spyware will display sport related ads like sport equipment shop ads etc. And b'coz of the constant sending of data from ur system to the host of the spyware prog, ur intenet connection could slightly slow down. Be informed that some programs require the presence of spywares (eg. the non-Lite version of Kazaa). Those programs will no longer operate if u remove the spyware b'coz some programs are sponsored by some companies and they are paid by showing off their advertisements with their softwares.


-I also recommend using a net browser other than Internet Explorer. IE regardless of its version is prone to attacks coming from spywares and is very vulnerable. I recommend using Firefox (dl link is inside my Top DL section) or Opera (www.opera.com)




=PC Maintenace=



Once a month I perform the following steps below to keep my system in tip-top shape. I am not requiring u guys to perform all the steps mentioned below but they are recommended. You may need to install some programs to perform some operations that are hard to perform manually:


Step 1: go to control panel>add remove programs. All the programs that are no longer used and are listed there should be removed to save disk space (not really a big deal if u have a big HD). Some programs doesn't have an uninstall option that shows up inside the add-remove programs so I also recommend that u head on to start>programs menu and also check all the programs listed there and uninstall them if they are no longer needed.

Step 2: go to my computer and explore all ur drives and search for files, documents, pictures files, txt files etc that are no longer needed and delete them (if safe) to further save disk space. Exploring ur hard drive with the help of "SHDireSizeColumn.dll" (w/c can be dl'ed inside my Top DL section) will help u determine suspicious folders eating up huge amount of space b'coz it enables u to view the amount of space a folder is using.

Step 3: go to start>programs>accessories>system tools>disk cleanup. Under Win98 I recommend that u put a tick mark on the temporary internet files, downloaded program files, and temporary files box. Under WinXP put a tick mark on everything except the recycle bin (for safety purposes). Then hit ok to clean them up.

Step 4: go to start>run and type in "msconfig" (w/o the quotation marks). Then remove the check mark on all boxes that are no longer needed, enabled by newly installed software, or are of no use for u to load at start-up.

Step 5: open up ur system maintenance program and run it/them to detect registry, shortcut, and/or system errors and fix them. I use Norton Utilities for this process. If u don't have a utility program such as Norton, although not as effective or thorough when compared with other utility softwares ... MS's scandisk should do the trick.

Step 6: open up regcleaner (link inside my downloads section) and remove all the dead registry entries that are left behind by old programs. U can also manually do the same process but I'm not going to guide you on how to do it 'coz if u already know ur way around the registry, I really don't have to guide u anymore, right? If u can't do it manually w/o me guiding u, then download regcleaner instead.

Step 7: Run ad-aware and spybot to remove any spyware that might be inside ur system.

Step 8: Empty ur recycling bin. But make sure that the files inside there are no longer needed.

Step 9: Use a 3rd party software that not only defrags your HD but also optimizes ur swapfile to improve performance (eg. Norton Speed Disk or Diskeeper).


And thats it! Doing those things that I listed will give u more HD space, uncluttered HD directories and registry, faster boot-up times, help prevent program errors and invalid registry entries and/or settings, faster performance etc.!


=Additional Tip When Defragging with a 3rd Party Software=

3rd party defragging softwares by default optimize ur swapfile position to increase ur system's performance. But there are still a couple of things u can do to further enchance ur systems performance.

Under Win98:

Target Performance: Better Gaming Experience

-I recommend installing all ur games inside a single folder (eg. "Games" folder). That way, u can easily opt to optimize that folder so that all ur games that resides in there will be moved to the outer edges of ur HD. And as a result will give u better loading times as well as overall performace since ur games are now sitting closer to ur swapfile.

-U can also prioritize a single game by specifying only its folder. This will give the game a better boost than mixing it with all ur other games.

-Select ur games folder to be prioritized on top of all the other folders.

-Move the "program files" folder at the end of ur gaming files. Do this by entering the said directory to the "files at last" (or whatever term they use) part of ur HD. This will prioritize ur games to have the outer part of ur HD.

-Move the unecessary files, folders (and all their contents) to the "End" of ur HD. Folders like history, temporary internet files (and the likes) and files like .tmp, .log, games screenshot files and other files/folders that are not important should be selected and moved.


Under WinXP:

Target Performance: Better loading time and software performance

-If u want ALL ur apps/softwares to load a bit faster, a wildcard .exe and .dll entry for ur entire partition / drive and moving them to the outer edge of ur HD should do the trick. But if u only want to optimize a particular or specific program (probably those that takes time to load) then u can specify their respective folder/s and move them.

-If u want to decrease ur loading time then selecting all ur programs folder that loads on start-up and moving them in front of ur other files is the way to go.

-Move the unecessary files, folders (and all their contents) to the "End" of ur HD. Folders like history, temporary internet files (and the likes) and files like .tmp, .log, games screenshot files and other files/folders that are not important should be selected and moved. Moving seldomly used programs here is also a good idea.


Additional Note: If ur only after defragging for the sake of defragging (no specific optimization in mind) and want a program than can do it quickly. Then I recommend that u use "Diskeeper". It also have an additional feature that can move "some" of ur system files (w/c is not safe to move and often times skipped by other programs under WinXP) with its feature called "boot-time defragmentation".

Last Updated: 093004


***I will not be held responsible to any damage this tweaking guide might cause your system.

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