Being a linux guy, I’d suggest you install linux. Ubuntu is a very nice OS with a pretty window manager and with office suite and most other needed tools by default. You can surf the internet, check email, type papers and even play some games. You never have to worry about viruses, most malware, or ever need to defrag. If you are a die hard Windows user, or, more likely, just too scared to give linux a try then here are some things to make windows bearable.
1 – Anti-virus
The most important feature about Windows is, the anti-virus program. Every Windows computer has got to have a valid anti-virus program installed and up to date. And, Every Windows computer has got to have a valid anti-virus program installed and up to date. But don’t forget that Every Windows computer has got to have a valid anti-virus program installed and up to date.
(I say ‘valid’ because there are some fake anti-virus products out there.) Computer owners really need to educate themselves on their anti-virus needs and product of protection. Those purchasing a new computer which is supplied with a trial basis ant-virus program installed need to be more thoroughly warned about the expiration and encouraged to acquire adequate protection before the trial expires. If your anti-virus program is out of date, or missing, just turn off the computer because It is only a matter of time before the computer is infected and inoperable, or worse; an infected zombie attacking and infecting other computers and turning them into zombies. On average, a computer system is attacked within 10 minutes of being connected to the internet. That is barely enough time to download and install an anti-virus program. I’ve seen computers attacked and re-infected in less than 10 minutes.
There are lots of good ant-virus programs out there, and lots of bad ones too. My favorite is Avast (avast.com) which has a free version for home users. One like able feature of avast is that the free home version is not as neutered as other free home ant-virus programs and supports powerful scanning options. And it has command line features. Which means I can write scripts for it. Avast is free for home users, but you have to register. Registration requires your e-mail address, but avast will not spam your inbox. I don’t recall ever having gotten an e-mail in the 4 or so years I’ve used avast. That also means that avast wont nag you when your 1 year registration is up. So be sure to re-register after a year.
Goto avast.com and click the links that take you to avast home edition. Here is the most recent download URL(as of 02.14.2010)
Once you have downloaded the installer, execute it and choose the default options. ( I would choose to participate in the community. Choose No for Google Chrome, unless you want it.) After installing it will ask you if you would like to restart now or later. Just save your work and restart now.
When it is done installing you need to register avast, or it will expire in 30 or 60 days or something. Locate the ‘a’ icon (looks like an orange ball) from your system tray located at the bottom right corner of you screen, in the task bar. Right click on the orange ‘a’ and choose ‘Registration Information’. Fill out the form and submit it. Avast will then email you the rest of the instructions.
Your avast registration is good for one year. Towards the end of that year the program will begin to tell you that you need to re-register. The re-register is free and you perform the same steps.
2 – Do your windows updates
Every piece of software needs updates. And todays Operating Systems are no different. Windows especially needs to be update to patch OS bugs and security holes. A single security hole could leave a computer vulnerable to attacks that could circumvent other security measures, like firewalls and anti-virus. Microsoft already has good step by step tutorials on how to enable this feature, so I’ll just link them here.
How to enable windows updates in XP…
How to enable windows updates in Vista…
3 – take care of your hard drive
Random application crashes and Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) are often caused by a corrupted File System. Running check disk regularly will correct file system errors before they become a nuisance. In XP Click Start then Run and type “chkdsk c: /r /f”, this will open a black box that asks you a question, the answer is “Y” for yes. (In Vista, and presumably 7, Click the Window Logo then in the search box type “chkdsk c: /r /f” and “Y” for yes when asked.) Then restart the computer and allow it to boot. While booting it will perform a disk check and auto repair any damage to the file system. This can take 10 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the drive. DO NOT INTERRUPT CHECK DISK. If you power off or restart the computer you can cause additional file system damage.
Defrag the Hard Drive
Long story short,. Due to the way that windows right files to the hard drive, the access time to retrieve and read those files deteriorates over time. This is called ‘file fragmentation’. The primary symptoms of file fragmentation is a deteriorating performance, excessive clicking noise coming from the hard drive, and excessive flashing of the hard drive light. Performing a defrag regularly will enhance or maintain performance. In XP Click Start then Run and type “defrag c:”, this will open a black box that will indicate that defrag is executing. (In Vista, and presumably 7, Click the Window Logo then in the search box type “defrag c:”.) It doesn’t show any progress, just let it run. It will take about 10 to 40 minutes depending on the drive size. If you have multiple drives you should defrag them too by substituting c: with the drive letter of the additional drives. Don’t defrag an optical drive.
I would suggest doing a defrag and a check disk once a month or every 2 months.