How many programs before reinstalling?

Discussion in 'Windows Update' started by Franklin, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. Franklin

    Franklin Guest

    I have been getting ready to get a second PC. This made me look at
    how much stuff I have got on my present system. Despite lots of
    tweaks and cleaning my current system is getting bloated and tangled.
    Performance is not bad but could be better. Here are some statistics
    on what I found:

    Using 'MyUninstaller'
    I can see I have 511 installed programs!

    In addition there are those programs which didn't need any
    installation. I reckon I have about 100 of these ready and
    waiting to be used from a shortcut link on my menus.

    And then there are all those programs which were so unimpressive
    that they got uninstalled. I don't know how many of those there
    were. 50? 100? 150?

    Adding together my figures of 511 + 100 + approx 100 then I see my
    XP system has had about 700 or maybe even 800 programs.

    That is going to take a lot of customizing when I put together a
    replacement system!


    Other background info is :

    Based on the creation date of the 'WINDOWS' folder, my WinXP is
    about 30 months old (installed in Jan 2003).

    The C drive, which also contains no substantial data, is 14 GB of
    which 10 GB is used up.

    The Program Files folder, which contains *no* substantial data
    files, is a bit over 5 GB.

    If I sort by size the installed programs list on MyUninstaller or
    Add/Remove then the middle size is about 1.7 MB.
    Largest program at 357 MB is MS hotfix KB896727 (Aug 2005).
    Largest user application is Photoshop at 189 MB.

    What sort of data do other people have?

    On avergae how long (or how many programs) do you wait for before
    (re)installing a new XP system?
    Franklin, Aug 11, 2005
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  2. Franklin

    If you just keep the computer tidy, there is no set point for re-installing
    XP.. I would only recommend re-installing if all else failed anyway..

    I really don't see a problem for you.. all that you have to do is install
    whatever you want on the new system, regardless of what is on the old one..
    Mike Hall \(MS-MVP\), Aug 11, 2005
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  3. Franklin

    Ted Zieglar Guest

    "On avergae how long (or how many programs) do you wait for before
    (re)installing a new XP system?"

    As long as your computer is free of malware and well maintained, there is
    never a need to reinstall XP. Do so for your own reasons.

    I think there are a few newsgroups you missed.
    Ted Zieglar, Aug 11, 2005
  4. I have been getting ready to get a second PC. This made me look at

    If you're spending any time "tweaking and cleaning" your system, I'm simply
    astonished at the number of programs you still have installed--really, how
    many are you actually using? My previous XP machine had been running
    without a reinstall for roughly 3 years (a record for me) and I had maybe
    50-60 apps, a significant portion of which I found out over time I didn't
    really need but I was hanging onto "just in case".

    Unless that utility displays more than just "programs"...that's just bloody
    Better yet, only reinstall the stuff you know you need. The previous XP
    machine I'm referring to above recently died, and I didn't reinstall
    *anything* on the new machine beyond what I know I used on a weekly basis.
    Things are slowly creeping back up over time (it's been roughly a month
    now), but I skipped a *lot* of programs I had on my other machine I thought
    I was going to have a use for "later". Don't start off with the thought
    that you're going to have to duplicate your current machine--this as an
    opportunity to start clean again. If you're unsure about a particular
    program, burn its setup program to CD/DVD or bookmark the web site you got
    it from. Don't reinstall it simply because you have it available. You'll
    find out you really don't need an awful lot in your day-to-day use.
    I'd say that's par for the course, at least on my machines.
    Program Files shouldn't contain *any* data. In fact ideally drive C: itself
    shouldn't contain any data. I always try to get my system in a state where
    if I have to nuke the OS and reinstall in a hurry, I don't have to backup
    *any* data file. Use different partitions (or different physical drives)
    for My Documents and the like. My general rule of thumb is, anything that
    needs to go through an installation process after rebuilding the OS, put it
    on drive C:. Any data file that is still usable simply by copying it from
    one location to another, put it elsewhere. If you follow this basic scheme
    and use backup software, don't bother backing up drive C: at all as it will
    only contain program files that will be copied back from the original media
    when you reinstall anyway.
    Development and debugging tools, and their corresponding documentation, will
    eat away gigabytes in a single installation. As far as data goes, if you're
    into video editing at all, you can expect hundreds of megabytes, if not
    gigabytes, per file. I keep ISO images of CDs on a separate partition so I
    don't have to dig them out every time I wanna fire up a game that requires
    the media to be in the drive. Then there's the download leeches and the MP3
    whore types. :)
    There's no point in reinstalling any OS based on a fixed schedule or the
    number of programs you have installed. I only do it after the system
    develops too many quirks I can't get rid of. As mentioned, in XP's case,
    it's been over 3 years for me, and the motherboard gave up before the OS
    itself became unusable (it developed quirks over time, but nothing bad
    enough to force me to reinstall). Back in the Win9x days, I was
    reinstalling quarterly if not monthly (good riddance!)...

    Of course if you're the type who constantly ends up with hard-to-get-rid-of
    spyware, you might be reinstalling more often...but by no means should you
    follow a schedule or wait for X number of programs to be installed. I've
    been maintaining my machines for nearly 20 years now, and I'm a *huge* pack
    rat. But I don't move old programs over to new machines unless I have a
    need for them. Otherwise things become unmanageable.
    Homer J. Simpson, Aug 11, 2005
  5. Franklin

    Ken Blake Guest


    I have *never* reinstalled WIndows XP or any other version of
    Windows. Maintain your system well and reinstallation should
    never be necessary. Reinstallation should be a last-resort remedy
    to fix a problem, when all other efforts have failed.

    Also note that the number of programs you have installed has no
    effect on performance. What you have *running* effects
    performance, not what you have installed.

    It's like the performance of your car and the number of people in
    your family. Have 18 children but leave them home when you drive,
    and your cars's performance won't change. But put them all in the
    car at once and performance will suffer because of the extra

    I have no idea how many programs I have installed, and I don't
    particularly care. Besides, the count would be different
    depending on how you do it. If you count all exe files, you'll
    get a much higher number than the number of products you bought
    or downloaded, since many software products come with multiple
    exe files. As a result, comparing one person's numbers with
    anothers is almost certainly very misleading, because it's likely
    that they will count differently.
    Ken Blake, Aug 11, 2005
  6. Franklin

    Phillips Guest

    If you have sensitive info (banking for ex), reinstall every few months (6
    at most) to get rid of malware. Better, plan what programs you need and know
    that are safe, clean install XP, activate and image the system partition
    (c:). If you partition judiciously, a restoration of the system image would
    take a few minutes (depends what machine you have) and you'll be able to run
    as new. In fact, you can restore daily if you so desire. The idea is that
    the hackers will eventually get through to your machine(s) no matter how
    much protection you consider to run. Hence, I repeat, every 6 months at most
    do a restoration or a clean installation - that is if you have sensitive
    info on your machine.
    Phillips, Aug 12, 2005
  7. One word: wow.

    If I had a machine that contained information so sensitive that I'd have to
    revert to reinstalling every 6 months, I'd go with an even simpler solution:
    take the machine off the internet!

    Go online with something else. Don't visit warez sites. I've yet to have a
    single piece of spyware install itself on any of my boxes, much less my
    primary machine which is totally isolated from the rest of the world (it
    doesn't even have an anti-virus installed, and any file that gets copied to
    it has already been scanned elsewhere).
    Homer J. Simpson, Aug 12, 2005
  8. Phillips

    Why if you have sensitive info?.. is the sensitive info only present just
    before one clean installs?
    Mike Hall \(MS-MVP\), Aug 12, 2005
  9. Franklin

    Phillips Guest

    No, some sensitive info (info that you want to keep hidden from others such
    as personal data that can be used to open a credit account, ) might
    accumulate over time. Same way, your machine might get infected - some
    friend using it occasionally for whatever web job or simply inadequate
    protection. The general assumption is that, in long run, chances are your
    machine will get infected - function of your work habits, who has access to
    that machine (friends' kids on an occasional visit, for ex) etc. Then, you
    do not want some keyboard spying malware lurking on your machine
    indefinitely; you simply start clean.
    Moreover, a lot of unnecessary files accumulate over time - testing/trying
    various programs (firewalls, for ex :), updated drivers etc. Then, instead
    of running a bunch of cleaning utilities and investing some time into it,
    you can simply start clean again - using the latest drivers, the programs
    that you liked.
    Of course, some advanced or experienced users might never need to go this
    way, but for most, preventively, it is worth doing it.
    Phillips, Aug 12, 2005
  10. Franklin

    Phillips Guest

    Yup, that's the safest way... but it's not what I'd call "simple" since you
    have to have at least two dedicated machines even three - one for general
    web surfing, one for private/sensitive/business web activities, another one
    in a vault :)
    Phillips, Aug 12, 2005
  11. Franklin

    Franklin Guest

    On Thu 11 Aug 2005 14:40:27, Ted Zieglar wrote:
    Hi Ted, I don't think it is quite a simple as you describe in real
    life. There are many badly behaved programs which leave behind
    debris on the system.

    I think we have to take account of that. In my case those sorts
    of programs has meant that my Explorer shell is far from stable.
    I get lockups all too frequently. Various tools have failed to
    help and may even have matters worse.

    When my services.exe checks through the services (and I don't know
    why it does that) it seems to involve explorer.exe going through
    every hardware device I have ever installed.
    Franklin, Aug 12, 2005
  12. Franklin

    louise Guest

    Do you use a registry cleaner on a regular basis? And do you
    defrag on a regular basis? I find these two keep things running
    pretty smoothely and I too have an awful lot installed and

    louise, Aug 14, 2005
  13. If you used the tools built into Windows XP and the uninstallation of the
    applications poroperly - Ted is 100% correct.
    Even if you didn't - you still should not have to reinstall Windows XP
    because of leftover registry entries from old installs. It would take
    1000's of such entries to cause a significant slowdown on any machine
    "worth" running Windows XP on.

    I think the real problem comes with education - or lack thereof.

    You were given a tool called "System Restore".. With this you could make a
    restore point before installing that "trial software" and then when you are
    done trying it and uninstall it using Add/Remove programs (Custom Removal if
    asked, removing every component) - you then restore to the point before
    installing it using System Restore? Sound tedious? Maybe - but you
    shouldn't have any lingering registry entries or files if done in that

    If you don't trust System Restore - and you insist on installing such things
    on your computer frequently - you have another option. Purchase
    Symantec/Norton Ghost and/or Acronis TrueImage. Make a backup of your
    system periodically and if you notice things "going awry" despite your best
    efforts at keeping your system secure and clean - restore the machine to the
    last known good image of it. This - of course - highly depends on you
    either storing your files on another partition/drive/network location or
    maintaining system backups (as you should be anyway.)

    If all that fails and you insist on going on with the frequent reinstalls -
    it will still depend heavily on you performing regular backups of your
    files - documents, spreadsheets, pictures, emails, contacts and all manner
    of other things you might want to keep. You should then consider
    customizing your installation CD to make it easier and faster for you to
    restore the system to not only a working state - but a step beyond -
    installing basic plugins and programs you normally use in the process all
    autmatically. Web pages like can walk you
    through the creation of such installation CDs.

    I digress.. Any machine that is kept up to date, maintained and backed up
    regularly should NOT have to be redone for any reason other than hardware
    disaster or user mistreatment. The tips I am about to give you are a great
    place to start.

    Microsoft has these suggestions for Protecting your computer from the
    various things that could happen to you/it:

    Protect your PC

    Although those tips are fantastic, there are many things you should
    know above and beyond what is there. Below I have detailed
    out many steps that can not only help you clean-up a problem PC but
    keep it clean ,secure and running at its top performance mark.

    I know this text can seem intimidating - it is quite long and a lot
    to take in for a novice - but I assure you that one trip through this
    list and you will understand your computer and the options available
    to you for protecting your data much better - and that the next time
    you review these steps, the time it takes will be greatly reduced.

    Let's take the cleanup of your computer step-by-step. Yes, it will take
    up some of your time - but consider what you use your computer
    for and how much you would dislike it if all of your stuff on your
    computer went away because you did not "feel like" performing some
    simple maintenance tasks - think of it like taking out your garbage,
    collecting and sorting your postal mail, paying your bills on time,

    I'll mainly work around Windows XP, as that is what the bulk of this
    document is about; however, here is a place for you poor souls still
    stuck in Windows 98/ME where you can get information on maintaining
    your system:

    Windows 98 and 'Maintaining Your Computer':

    Windows ME Computer Health:

    Pay close attention to the sections:
    (in order)
    - Clean up your hard disk
    - Check for errors by running ScanDisk
    - Defragment your hard disk
    - Roll back the clock with System Restore

    Also - now is a good time to point you to one of the easiest ways to find
    information on problems you may be having and solutions others have found:

    Search using Google!
    (How-to: )

    Now, let's go through some maintenance first that should only have to be
    done once (mostly):

    Tip (1):
    Locate all of the software you have installed on your computer.
    (the installation media - CDs, downloaded files, etc)
    Collect these CDs and files together in a central and safe
    place along with their CD keys and such. Make backups of these
    installation media sets using your favorite copying method (CD/DVD Burner
    and application, Disk copier, etc.) You'll be glad to know that if you
    have a CD/DVD burner, you may be able to use a free application to make a
    duplicate copy of your CDs. One such application is ISORecorder:

    ISORecorder page (with general instructions on use):

    Yes - it is BETA software - but very useful and well tested.

    More full function applications (free) for CD/DVD burning would be:

    DeepBurner Free

    CDBurnerXP Pro

    Another Option would be to search the web with or and find deals on Products like Ahead Nero and/or Roxio.

    Tip (2):
    Empty your Temporary Internet Files and shrink the size it stores to a
    size between 128MB and 512MB..

    - Open ONE copy of Internet Explorer.
    - Select TOOLS -> Internet Options.
    - Under the General tab in the "Temporary Internet Files" section, do the
    - Click on "Delete Cookies" (click OK)
    - Click on "Settings" and change the "Amount of disk space to use:" to
    something between 128MB and 512MB. (Betting it is MUCH larger right
    - Click OK.
    - Click on "Delete Files" and select to "Delete all offline contents"
    (the checkbox) and click OK. (If you had a LOT, this could take 2-10
    minutes or more.)
    - Once it is done, click OK, close Internet Explorer, re-open Internet

    Tip (3):
    If things are running a bit sluggish and/or you have an older system
    (1.5GHz or less and 256MB RAM or less) then you may want to look into
    tweaking the performance by turning off some of the 'resource hogging'
    Windows XP "prettifications". The fastest method is:

    Control Panel --> System --> Advanced tab --> Performance section,
    Settings button. Then choose "adjust for best performance" and you
    now have a Windows 2000/98 look which turned off most of the annoying
    "prettifications" in one swift action. You can play with the last
    three checkboxes to get more of an XP look without many of the
    other annoyances. You could also grab and install/use one
    (or more) of the Microsoft Powertoys - TweakUI in particular:

    Tip (4):
    Understanding what a good password might be is vital to your
    personal and system security. You may think you do not need to password
    your home computer, as you may have it in a locked area (your home) where
    no one else has access to it. Remember, however, you aren't always
    "in that locked area" when using your computer online - meaning you likely
    have usernames and passwords associated with web sites and the likes that
    you would prefer other people do not discover/use. This is why you should
    understand and utilize good passwords.

    Good passwords are those that meet these general rules
    (mileage may vary):

    Passwords should contain at least six characters, and the character
    string should contain at least three of these four character types:
    - uppercase letters
    - lowercase letters
    - numerals
    - nonalphanumeric characters (e.g., *, %, &, !, :)

    Passwords should not contain your name/username.
    Passwords should be unique to you and easy to remember.

    One method many people are using today is to make up a phrase that
    describes a point in their life and then turning that phrase into their
    password by using only certain letters out of each word in that phrase.
    It's much better than using your birthday month/year or your anniversary
    in a pure sense. For example, let's say my phrase is:
    'Moved to new home in 2004'
    I could come up with this password from that:

    The password tip is in the one time section, but I highly
    recommend you periodically change your passwords. The suggested time
    varies, but I will throw out a 'once in every 3 to 6 months for
    every account you have.'

    Tip (5):
    This tip is also 'questionable' in the one time section; however -
    if properly setup - this one can be pretty well ignored for most people
    after the initial 'fiddle-with' time.

    Why you should use a computer firewall..

    You should, in some way, use a firewall. Hardware (like a nice
    Cable Modem/DSL router) or software is up to you. Many use both of
    these. The simplest one to use is the hardware one, as most people
    don't do anything that they will need to configure their NAT device
    for and those who do certainly will not mind fiddling with the equipment
    to make things work for them. Next in the line of simplicity would
    have to be the built-in Windows Firewall of Windows XP. In SP2 it
    is turned on by default. It is not difficult to turn on in any
    case, however:

    Enable/Disable the Internet Connection Firewall (Pre-SP2):

    More information on the Internet Connection Firewall (Pre-SP2):

    Post-SP2 Windows Firewall Information/guidance:

    The trouble with the Windows Firewall is that it only keeps things
    out. For most people who maintain their system in other ways, this is
    MORE than sufficient. However, you may feel otherwise. If you want to
    know when one of your applications is trying to obtain access to the
    outside world so you can stop it, then you will have to install a
    third-party application and configure/maintain it. I have compiled a
    list with links of some of the better known/free firewalls you can choose

    BlackICE PC Protection (~$39.95 and up)

    Jetico Personal Firewall (Free)

    Kerio Personal Firewall (KPF) (Free and up)

    Outpost Firewall from Agnitum (Free and up)

    Sygate Personal Firewall (Free and up)

    Symantec's Norton Personal Firewall (~$25 and up)

    ZoneAlarm (Free and up)

    You should find the right firewall for your situation in that
    list and set it up.

    Every firewall WILL require some maintenance. Essentially checking for
    patches or upgrades (this goes for hardware and software solutions) is
    the extent of this maintenance - you may also have to configure your
    firewall to allow some traffic depending on your needs.

    ** Don't stack the software firewalls! Running more than one software
    firewall will not make you safer - it would possibly negate some
    protection you gleamed from one or the other firewall you run.

    Now that you have some of the more basic things down..
    Let's go through some of the steps you should take periodically to
    maintain a healthy and stable windows computer. If you have not
    done some of these things in the past, they may seem tedious - however,
    they will become routine and some can even be automatically scheduled.

    Tip (6):
    The system restore feature is a new one - first appearing in Windows
    ME and then sticking around for Windows XP. It is a useful feature
    if you keep it maintained and use it to your advantage. Remember that
    the system restore pretty much tells you in the name what it protects
    which is 'system' files. Your documents, your pictures, your stuff is
    NOT system files - so you should also look into some backup solution.

    I have seen the automatic system restore go wrong too many times not
    to suggest the following.. Whenever you think about it (after doing a
    once-over on your machine once a month or so would be optimal) - clear
    out your System Restore and create a manual restoration point.


    Too many times have I seen the system restore files go corrupt or get
    a virus in them, meaning you could not or did not want to restore from
    them. By clearing it out periodically you help prevent any corruption
    from happening and you make sure you have at least one good "snapshot".
    (*This, of course, will erase any previous restore point you have.*)

    - Turn off System Restore.
    - Reboot the Computer.
    - Review the first bullet to turn on System Restore
    - Make a Manual Restoration Point.

    That covers your system files, but doesn't do anything for the files
    that you are REALLY worried about - yours! For that you need to look
    into backups. You can either manually copy your important files, folders,
    documents, spreadsheets, emails, contacts, pictures, drawings and so on
    to an external location (CD/DVD - any disk of some sort, etc) or you can
    use the backup tool that comes with Windows XP:

    How To Use Backup to Back Up Files and Folders on Your Computer

    Yes - you still need some sort of external media to store the results
    on, but you could schedule the backup to occur when you are not around,
    then burn the resultant data onto CD or DVD or something when you are
    (while you do other things!)

    A lot of people have wondered about how to completely backup their system
    so that they would not have to go through the trouble of a reinstall..
    I'm going to voice my opinion here and say that it would be worthless to
    do for MOST people. Unless you plan on periodically updating the image
    backup of your system (remaking it) - then by the time you use it
    (something goes wrong) - it will be so outdated as to be more trouble than
    performing a full install of the operating system and all applications.

    Having said my part against it, you can clone/backup your hard drive
    completely using many methods - by far the simplest are using disk cloning

    Symantec/Norton Ghost

    Acronis True Image

    Tip (7):
    You should sometimes look through the list of applications that are
    installed on your computer. The list may surprise you. There are more
    than likely things in there you know you never use - so why have them
    there? There may even be things you know you did *not* install and
    certainly do not use (maybe don't WANT to use.)

    This web site should help you get started at looking through this list:

    How to Uninstall Programs

    A word of warning - Do NOT uninstall anything you think you MIGHT need
    in the future unless you have completed Tip (1) and have the installation
    media and proper keys for use backed up somewhere safe!

    Tip (8):
    Patches and Updates!

    This one cannot be stressed enough. It is SO simple, yet so neglected
    by many people. It is especially simple for the critical Windows patches!
    Microsoft put in an AUTOMATED feature for you to utilize so that you do
    NOT have to worry yourself about the patching of the Operating System:

    How to configure and use Automatic Updates in Windows XP

    However, not everyone wants to be a slave to automation, and that is
    fine. Admittedly, I prefer this method on some of my more critical

    Windows Update

    Go there and scan your machine for updates. Always get the critical ones
    as you see them. Write down the KB###### or Q###### you see when
    selecting the updates and if you have trouble over the next few days,
    go into your control panel (Add/Remove Programs), insure that the
    'Show Updates' checkbox is checked and match up the latest numbers you
    downloaded recently (since you started noticing an issue) and uninstall
    them. If there was more than one (usually is), uninstall them one by one
    with a few hours of use in between, to see if the problem returns.
    Yes - the process is not perfect (updating) and can cause trouble like I
    mentioned - but as you can see, the solution isn't that bad - and is
    MUCH better than the alternatives.

    Windows is not the only product you likely have on your PC. The
    manufacturers of the other products usually have updates. New versions
    of almost everything come out all the time - some are free, some are pay
    and some you can only download if you are registered - but it is best
    to check. Just go to their web pages and look under their support and
    download sections. For example, for Microsoft Office you should visit:

    Microsoft Office Updates
    (and select 'Check for Updates' and/or 'Downloads' for more)

    You also have hardware on your machine that requires drivers to interface
    with the operating system. You have a video card that allows you to see on
    your screen, a sound card that allows you to hear your PCs sound output and
    so on. Visit those manufacturer web sites for the latest downloadable
    drivers for your hardware/operating system. Always get the manufacturers'
    hardware driver over any Microsoft offers. On the Windows Update site I
    mentioned earlier, I suggest NOT getting their hardware drivers - no matter
    how tempting.

    How do you know what hardware you have in your computer? Break out the
    invoice or if it is up and working now - take inventory:

    Belarc Advisor

    EVEREST Home Edition

    Once you know what you have, what next? Go get the latest driver for your
    hardware/OS from the manufacturer's web page. For example, let's say you
    have an NVidia chipset video card or ATI video card, perhaps a Creative
    Labs sound card or C-Media chipset sound card...

    NVidia Video Card Drivers

    ATI Video Card Drivers

    Creative Labs Sound Device

    C-Media Sound Device

    Then install these drivers. Updated drivers are usually more stable and
    may provide extra benefits/features that you really wished you had before.

    As for Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP, Microsoft has made this
    particular patch available in a number of ways. First, there is the
    Windows Update web page above. Then there is a direct download site
    and finally, you can order the FREE CD from Microsoft.

    Direct Download of Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP

    Order the Free Windows XP SP2 CD

    If all else fails - grab the full download above and try to use that.
    In this case - consider yourself a 'IT professional or developer'.

    Tip (9):
    What about the dreaded word in the computer world, VIRUS?

    Well, there are many products to choose from that will help you prevent
    infections from these horrid little applications. Many are FREE to the
    home user and which you choose is a matter of taste, really. Many people
    have emotional attachments or performance issues with one or another
    AntiVirus software. Try some out, read reviews and decide for yourself
    which you like more:

    ( Good Comparison Page for AV software: )

    AntiVir (Free and up)

    avast! (Free and up)

    AVG Anti-Virus System (Free and up)

    eset NOD32 (~$39.00 and up)

    eTrust EZ Antivirus (~$29.95 and up)

    Kaspersky Anti-Virus (~$49.95 and up)

    McAfee VirusScan (~$11 and up)

    Panda Antivirus Titanium (~$39.95 and up)
    (Free Online Scanner:

    RAV AntiVirus Online Virus Scan (Free!)

    Symantec (Norton) AntiVirus (~$11 and up)

    Trend Micro (~$49.95 and up)
    (Free Online Scanner:

    Most of them have automatic update capabilities. You will have to
    look into the features of the one you choose. Whatever one you finally
    settle with - be SURE to keep it updated (I recommend at least daily) and
    perform a full scan periodically (yes, most protect you actively, but a
    full scan once a month at 4AM probably won't bother you.)

    Tip (10):
    The most rampant infestation at the current time concerns SPYWARE/ADWARE.
    You need to eliminate it from your machine.

    There is no one software that cleans and immunizes you against
    everything. Antivirus software - you only needed one. Firewall, you
    only needed one. AntiSpyware - you will need several. I have a list and
    I recommend you use at least the first five.

    First - make sure you have NOT installed "Rogue AntiSpyware". There are
    people out there who created AntiSpyware products that actually install
    spyware of their own! You need to avoid these:

    Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products & Web Sites

    Also, you can always visit this site..
    For more updated information.

    Install the first five of these: (Install, Run, Update, Scan with..)
    (If you already have one or more - uninstall them and download the
    LATEST version from the page given!)

    Lavasoft AdAware (Free and up)
    (How-to: )

    Spybot Search and Destroy (Free!)
    (How-to: )

    Bazooka Adware and Spyware Scanner (Free!)
    (How-to: )

    SpywareBlaster (Free!)
    (How-to: )

    IE-SPYAD2 (Free!)
    (How-to: )

    CWShredder Stand-Alone (Free!)

    Hijack This! (Free!)
    (Log Analyzer: )

    ToolbarCop (Free!)

    Microsoft AntiSpyware BETA (in testing stages - Free!)
    (How-to: )

    Browser Security Tests (Free Tester)

    Popup Tester (Free Tester)

    The Cleaner (~$49.95 and up)

    Sometimes you need to install the application and reboot into SAFE MODE in
    order to thoroughly clean your computer. Many applications also have
    (or are) immunization applications. Spybot Search and Destroy and
    SpywareBlaster are two that currently do the best job at passively
    protecting your system from malware. None of these programs (in these
    editions) run in the background unless you TELL them to. The space they
    take up and how easy they are to use greatly makes up for any inconvenience
    you may be feeling.

    Please notice that Windows XP SP2 does help stop popups as well.

    Another option is to use an alternative Web browser. I suggest
    'Mozilla Firefox', as it has some great features and is very easy to use:

    Mozilla Firefox

    So your machine is pretty clean and up to date now. If you use the sections
    above as a guide, it should stay that way as well! There are still a few
    more things you can do to keep your machine running in top shape.

    Tip (11):
    You should periodically check your hard drive(s) for errors and defragment
    them. Only defragment after you have cleaned up your machine of
    outside parasites and never defragment as a solution to a quirkiness in
    your system. It may help speed up your system, but it should be clean
    before you do this. Do these things IN ORDER...

    How to use Disk Cleanup

    How to scan your disks for errors

    How to Defragment your hard drives

    I would personally perform the above steps at least once every three months.
    For most people this should be sufficient, but if the difference you notice
    afterwards is greater than you think it should be, lessen the time in
    between its schedule.. If the difference you notice is negligible, you can
    increase the time.

    Tip (12):
    This one can get annoying, just like the rest. You get 50 emails in one
    sitting and 2 of them you wanted. NICE! (Not.) What can you do? Well,
    although there are services out there to help you, some email
    servers/services that actually do lower your spam with features built into
    their servers - I still like the methods that let you be the end-decision
    maker on what is spam and what is not. I have two products to suggest to
    you, look at them and see if either of them suite your needs. Again, if
    they don't, Google is free and available for your perusal.

    SpamBayes (Free!)

    Spamihilator (Free!)

    As I said, those are not your only options, but are reliable ones I have
    seen function for hundreds+ people.

    Tip (13):
    ADVANCED TIP! Only do this once you are comfortable under the hood of your

    There are lots of services on your PC that are probably turned on by default
    you don't use. Why have them on? Check out these web pages to see what all
    of the services you might find on your computer are and set them according
    to your personal needs. Be CAREFUL what you set to manual, and take heed
    and write down as you change things! Also, don't expect a large performance
    increase or anything - especially on today's 2+ GHz machines, however - I
    look at each service you set to manual as one less service you have to worry
    about someone exploiting.

    Configuring Services

    Task List Programs

    Processes in Windows NT/2000/XP

    There are also applications that AREN'T services that startup when you start
    up the computer/logon. One of the better description on how to handle these
    I have found here:


    If you follow the advice laid out above (and do some of your own research as
    well, so you understand what you are doing) - your computer will stay fairly
    stable and secure and you will have a more trouble-free system.
    Shenan Stanley, Aug 14, 2005
    cquirke (MVP Windows shell/user), Aug 14, 2005
  15. That's just the thing...if it's really (and I mean, *really*) important,
    than having a second machine isn't that much of an expense. Especially when
    people replace their old clunkers--those are still "good enough" as
    secondary machines.
    Homer J. Simpson, Aug 15, 2005
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