[GUIDE] Maintaining a healthy Windows system

Discussion in 'Windows Desktop Systems' started by Nighthawk-F117, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. Nighthawk-F117

    Nighthawk-F117 OSNN Junior Addict

    I originally wrote this thread over at the Steam forums. But registering here I didn't think it would do any harm in posting it (with a little bit of editing done). Although I'm sure there are lots of you who know how to do this stuff, there will be a lot who don't. So, enjoy!

    Before you start. I seriously recommend backing up all your documents. Things like the ‘My Documents’ folder, game saves and other program configurations. Nothing should go wrong; but, it does please be prepared. You can also utilise Microsoft Windows System Restore – always a good idea to do this before you make a major change to your computer.

    www.nighthawk-f117.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk Is a HTML based version of this guide.

    Basic Solutions

    Simple Stuff
    Keep these things in mind when using your computer.

    • Don't open E-Mail attachments from people you don't know, and if you do - be careful, run a virus scan on them before opening.
    • Don't run files you don't trust, especially if they are just bare .exe files from a dodgy source.
    • Once you've downloaded a file, run a virus scan on it. Just to make sure, it can't harm you.
    • If your antivirus tells you you've got a virus in your temp internet files, stop browsing that page immediately. Close all internet pages, clear the temporary internet files and run a full system scan.
    • Before running a virus scan, clear your temp internet files and clean out the Sun Java Temp folder.
    • Pay close attention to the task manager, if you see a new process there, and you haven't installed anything - be cautious, it may be legit - but do some checking anyway. Google the process name, and run a virus/adware scan.
    Windows XP Service Pack 2
    If you’re using Windows XP, and don’t have Service Pack 2 installed – install it!
    Microsoft’s Top 10 reasons to install Service Pack 2.
    You can get it here. Once you’ve downloaded it, Microsoft and I recommend:
    • Check here for programs that might behave differently when using Service Pack 2.
    • Check here for programs that may stop working when using Service Pack 2.
    • Backup all essential data, My Documents, game save files, program configurations etc...
    • Do a full system scan for viruses, using all the anti malicious software programs you have. This is covered more in depth below.
    • Check for special update instructions from your computers manufacturer.
    • Once you’ve made backups, scanned for threats, and installed. Instantly check for Windows Updates (see below).
    Windows Update
    Although this will not speed your PC up, it will keep it safe, run Windows Update regularly. (Only works in Internet Explorer)

    Office Update
    Although this will not speed your PC up, it will keep it safe, run Office Update regularly. (Only works in Internet Explorer)

    Update Everything Else
    I can't tell you where to go to update your programs. But I can tell you. Look through every program you have, and download every available update for it. The programs you have may contain fixes in the program, or security related issues.
    AutoPatcher seems to be a good program for generally updating all installed software (that’s supported, and you have). Although, I’ve never used it.

    Very simple solution, defragment your Hard Drive. This simply rearranges the files in your hard drive into a logical order, meaning your computer will spend less time looking for the files. A simple diagram can be found here.
    To do this, follow the instructions shown in this picture, then highlight the selected drive, and click "Defragment".
    For a better Disk Defragmenter, see Perfect Disk 7 below.

    Disk Cleanup
    This simple program included with Windows deletes ( / compresses)
    some unused/unnecessary system files, such as:
    • Downloaded Program Files
    • Temporary Internet Files
    • Offline Web Pages
    • Office Set Up Files (If you have it)
    • Recycle Bin
    • Temporary Files
    • WebClient/Publisher Temporary Files
    • Compress old files
    • Catalog files for the Content Indexer
    To use this, follow the steps in this picture. Select the drive, if you have more than one (or of you have several partitions). Then select the options to cleanup, and then press "OK". For more info on getting rid of junk on your computer, check CCleaner below.

    Add/Remove Unused Programs
    If you installed a program to try it, and didn't like it. UNINSTALL it, why keep it lying around in your Hard Drive? Or if a program doesn't work, uninstall it. Or if you just plain don't use it for any reason, uninstall it.

    MSconfig - Only for more advanced users
    This is another handy function Microsoft has hidden in Windows. It allows you, among other things to choose which programs load in the taskbar at start-up.
    To use, follow these two pictures:
    Then, untick the things you don't want to start when your system does.

    Disable Un-needed Services - Only for more advanced users
    I've decided, I was going to make a guide about disabling unneeded services, but I have now decided that it is too big a topic for me to do. So here is the best guide I can find on how to do so.
    Black Viper's Guide to Disabling Services Black Vipers site is currently down.

    Third Party Solutions

    Mozilla Firefox
    A safer Internet browser than Internet Explorer and uses less Memory (RAM).
    And has other useful functions, such as built in Google search bar, tabs, almost no pop ups. Another added bonus, is that there are no ActiveX controls in Firefox. Mozilla's Homepage.
    Download here.
    Once you’ve installed Firefox, you’ll need some plug-ins to make some sites work properly. You can view the essential plug-ins here.
    NEVER Uninstall Internet Explorer, you need it for running Windows Update.

    Perfect Disk 7
    This program makes you wonder why you even used the Microsoft Disk Defrragger.
    Among other things, it defrags your HDD(s), and optimizes the files, defrags your system page file, and the master file table. Altogether these things may seem insignificant, but together, they've sped up my PC immensely. The computer now boots in about 4 passings of the loading bar. Perfect Disk 7 is made by Raxco Software
    Download the trial here.
    I really urge you all to buy this software, it's by far the best disk defragmenter on the market.

    Great program to remove unneeded files from your computer. It deleted 700MB from mind, and 1.5GB from my friend’s. Also has a basic registry cleaner. Great all round cleaning program. CCleaner Homepage.
    Download here.

    This great program searches your registry for un-needed registry entries and deletes them. (It also makes a back up, before you start). Download here.
    Once installed you need to allow it to clean the registry automatically; to do this select "Options" > "Registry Cleanup"> "Method" then select "Automatic". To then clean the registry select the "Tools" option > "Registry Cleanup" and then "Do them All".
    This program is no longer supported. perris does not like the idea of cleaning the registry. It may cause harm.

    Cerulean Studio's Trillian
    This IM client integrates MSN, ICQ, AIM, YIM and IRC. So you don't have to have 5 programs open at once eating up your ram. Cerulean Studios’ Homepage.
    Download here.

    Lavalys EVEREST
    This handy program allows you to see all your computer information in one centralised place. It also provides links to Manufacturers websites, and links to Driver Update pages. Lavalys's Homepage.
    Download here.

    Virus/Trojan/Adware/Spyware Problem & Firewalls
    All of the above can slow your computer down and your internet connection.
    So, make sure you have a firewall, and also antivirus which are kept upto date.

    Microsoft® Windows AntiSpyware (Beta)
    Newly released AntiSpyware program for Microsoft. Seems excellent, and if you keep it running in the background it queries most suspicious activities. Up to you whether you keep it running in the background, but definitely download, install and run a scan every so often.
    Download here.
    Microsoft have a guide on how to install and configure the program here.

    Ad-Aware Second Edition
    A great, free Spy/Ad ware solution. Detects and deletes most Spy/Ad ware.
    Free definition updates. Second Edition. Made by Lavasoft.
    Download here.

    Spy Sweeper
    A great, free Spy/Ad ware solution. Detects and deletes most Spy/Adware.
    You need to pay to get definition updates. Made by Webroot Software.
    Download here.

    Spybot - Search & Destroy
    A great, free Spy/Ad ware solution. Detects and deletes most Spy/Ad ware.
    Free definition updates. It finds the same as Ad-Aware, if not more. Made by Safer Networking.
    Download here.

    NOTE: I use all four of the above. So that if one program misses something, the other three are bound to pick it up (I use Spyware Blaster too). I recommend you use them all to, just to make sure nothing gets missed.

    Spyware Blaster
    This great program stops spyware and adware before it even hits. It protects you against malicious ActiveX programs, cookies and much more. Read here for more info. Made by Javacool Software.
    Download here.

    Think you’ve got the well known Trojan/spyware CoolWebSearch on your computer?
    Well you can use this handy tool to get rid of it.
    Download it here.

    HijackThis - Only for more advanced users
    Serious spyware infestation? Especially with Internet Explorer, this will help get rid of those pesky search bars that just keep coming back. This programs requires a slightly higher level of computer literacy.
    Download it here.

    Online Virus Scanners
    These online virus scanners can be useful to check if you have a virus, which your antivirus has missed.
    • Trend Micro Nice online scan, can be used with almost any internet browser.
    • Symantec Security Check Good, but you need to use Internet Explorer
    • Jotti's Malware Scan Great scan, utilises many virus scanners to check if the file. Almost bound to find the virus. Can only check on file at a time, but this is very useful.
    This free anti-virus program by AntiVir is one of the best free AV programs out there. According to this thread at AndandTech AntiVir has the highest virus detection rate among free scanners.
    Download here.

    AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
    Anti-virus program byGrisoft is one of the most used free antivirus options.
    Download here.

    Firewall Check
    Want to check how effective your firewall is to external elements?
    • GRC Shields UP! Great all-round scan, checks all commonly used ports and more.
    • Symantec Security Check Nice scan by Symantec, sad they try to sell you stuff at the end – even if you pass perfectly.
    Sygate Personal Firewall
    This free firewall by Sygate is generally revered as one of the best free firewall around.
    Download here.

    Zone Alarm
    This free firewall is made by Zone Labs. It’s your decision whether you use Sygate Personal Firewall or this, both are very good free firewalls.
    Download here.

    NOTE: I myself use Symantec Client Security 3.

    For more PC security advice, check this excellent post by qUiCkSiLvEr at the Steampowered.com forums..

    RAM - Random Access Memory
    Your computer needs this stuff, and the more the better. Any 32bit CPU (Intel Pentium 3, 4, Celeron. AMD Athlon XP, Barton, Sempron) can take 4096MB or 4GB of RAM. A 64bit CPU (AMD Athlon 64, Opteron. Intel Pentium 4 with EMT64, Xeon with EMT 64, Itanium) can handle hundreds of GB of RAM, but the amount a certain system can take is limited by the motherboard and chipset.
    One simple solution to speed your PC up, is to buy more RAM for it. Just check what speed of RAM your Motherboard and CPU can take, and what the maximum amount of RAM your computer will make use of.

    Solution = Buy more RAM
    The cheapest places to buy RAM, that I know are:
    Newegg.com - USA Only
    eBuyer - USA (Maybe Canada) and the UK (maybe mainland Europe)
    Overclock - UK & Ireland

    Hope all this helps. And if you have any other solutions, tell me, and I'll add them to the post. But I think I've covered most of it. One last thing is, there are only so many things you can do. There is no good replacement for good computer hardware.

    Copyright © Nighthawk-F117 2005
    Last edited: May 22, 2005
  2. Nighthawk-F117

    Nighthawk-F117 OSNN Junior Addict

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    Placeholder for future posts.
  3. IDLE

    IDLE OSNN Senior Addict

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    great info nighthawk
  4. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    awesome post man
    oh btw for defragmenting it's better to use perfect disk instead of windows defragment and use CCleaner instead of disk clean up
    awesome tips
  5. Nighthawk-F117

    Nighthawk-F117 OSNN Junior Addict

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    I used CCleaner before, I right clicked on the recycle bin selected clean - bam it deleted all my internet history. I was not happy.
  6. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    instead of selecting run open ccleaner and chose which materials you want it to delete i always select to delete all and for right click on recycle bin i only told it to put open ccleaner not run coz i like to see what it deleted and how many MB freed, it's a good program, and in the new version you can just analyze to see how man MB could be freed but it doesn't delete it
  7. Nighthawk-F117

    Nighthawk-F117 OSNN Junior Addict

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    I might try it out. I'll also try out Perfect Disk.
  8. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    yea PD is awesome, it defragments the files till the last white space and then you can select offline defrag which defragments the pagefile and system files before loading windows, it's really good
  9. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    Very very good post, I salute you sir!
  10. Nighthawk-F117

    Nighthawk-F117 OSNN Junior Addict

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    This being the perfect disk you're talking about: http://www.raxco.com/products/perfectdisk2k/
    Mastershakes and dragonbeat like this.
  11. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    yea PD 7.0 and when you install it remember to go to help and check for updates :D, oh yea and also double click on the drives in the list and check the box that says "Aggressive free space...." do it on all your drives, and then when you press defragment select smart placement and always use it, after that's done select offline defrag and reboot :D

    edit: when you press offline select page file and master file
  12. Mastershakes

    Mastershakes Moderator

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    I don't mean to horn in here Fishboy, and I would never knock Perfect Disk. It does rock.

    Diskeeper Pro is pretty dope as well. (Made by Executive Software)

    Night, like the post. Nothing new, but I'm sure it will provide many with good insight on how to take care of their PCs. Nicely organized too. Kudos on including the famous Black Viper tutorials
  13. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    hey Nightawk what do you think about formatting hard drives, like what's your opinion on it coz i think it's a pointless thing to do and i never recomend it
  14. Mastershakes

    Mastershakes Moderator

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    I'm more interested in knowing why it's pointless.
  15. NetRyder

    NetRyder Tech Junkie Folding Team

    New York City
    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    Thanks for posting such a useful guide, Nighthawk. I've renamed the thread to make it more general (hope you don't mind), and pinned it to this forum section. :)

    In my opinion, it's unnecessary if you maintain your system well. There is also the added hassle of reinstalling all your applications and setting up everything the way it was (themes, settings etc)
  16. Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    no i just wanted to know coz i know it is pointless but many ppl still wanna do it and i yell at them and they say plz can you format my disk im like no im not doing it and i end up doing it any way
  17. Mastershakes

    Mastershakes Moderator

    Fair enough. I guess I'd have to agree. I think I format just so I know I have a clean install, it eliminates alot of potential issues I don't want to factor in -if and when I run into a problem on an install.

    If you follow the recommended procedures - when problems occur, you have fewer possible causes to look at.
  18. vivid_vibe

    vivid_vibe OSNN Senior Addict

    I've been running my current system for almost 3 yrs with no format. Never saw the point unless there was some irreversible catastrophe. My system runs just as fast now as it did then.

  19. Nighthawk-F117

    Nighthawk-F117 OSNN Junior Addict

    Re: Slow Comp? Comp Prob? Look Here!

    I, myself do it every few months. It's just a way to remove clutter. Even though I do everything listed in my thread. The computer still builds up with rubbish (mostly hidden). Drivers and things are the worst. The only drivers I actually update - are my graphics and audio drivers. So, when I reformat, I get the latest versions of everything. It also increases the boot time of my system - not that it matters, I have it running 12+ hours per day.

    No problem with the name change. Just glad it's pinned.

    EDIT: I won't be reformatting again until this runs out:
  20. ming

    ming OSNN Advanced

    interesting post. :)

    wow Nighthawks rep went from 0 to 161 overnight. lol :p
    congrats! :up: