I believe I have now lost count of the number of computers I have had to spend hours cleaning out. Right from emptying disk space, to clearing desktops of unused icons, to cleaning the registry, getting rid of temporary files, backing up data and of course getting rid of spam, spyware and a whole infestation of viruses.
Very often (typically after a tedious and painful session of cleaning up) I wonder why on Earth, the average Windows user I’ve encountered, finds it so difficult to use an anti-virus and at the minimum some anti-spyware tool. Is it really all that difficult to space three seconds and make the extra clicks? Either, these people are really lazy, or simply don’t care about their data or they just don’t know how to work with very simple point and click software.
At any rate here is my security arsenal on my laptop:
- SyncBack – to backup data. One doesn’t really need software to backup data. If you have a cd writer periodically write all your data to a cd, or use an online service like XDrive, or even GMail as long as you don’t have songs and huge pictures to back up as well.
- Driver Max to backup hardware device drivers. – This is something you will thank yourself for later. If you ever have re-install XP, having all the required drivers in one place helps.
- CCleaner and nCleaner – to clean HDD, fix registry errors, clean empty files, fix invalid shortcuts and more.
- Defraggler and Iobit Smart Defrag to defragment discs – Defraggler is a lovely tool, in addition to being much faster than the default defragmentation tool in XP it allows the individual defragmenting of files. Iobit Smart Defrag, runs silently on your computer and constantly defragments configured drives making your computer happier in the long run.
- Drive Image XML and SysTracer – the former to create an image of my system which saves me the pain of re-installation in the (rare) even of a crash, the latter to take system snapshots to figure out what has changed on my computer between two installation, for example.
- WinDirStat and JDiskReport for disk space – Both of these are excellent utilities that tell you what kind of file is occupying how much of space on your drives.
- KillDisc Free Suite – for a complete erasure of all HDD data, particularly useful if you have persistent viruses that keep returning even after what you think is a clean re-install.
- Hard Drive Inspector – to monitor HDD temperature and therefore an excellent way to tell if your system is overheating, you can set it to automatically go into sleep/suspend mode when the temperature hits a specific degree.
- Revo Uninstaller – to remove persistent software that refuses to go
- Recuva – to recover those files you accidentally deleted. I have no idea how anyone ever does this, though!
- AusLogics Registry Defrag – to defragment the registry
- Free Windows Registry Repair – to fix registry errors,this is something that always finds errors on my system, presumably ones that the cleaners miss.
- Key Scrambler Personal – to scramble keyboard inputs.
- Anti-Spyware – Spyware Terminator, a squared free anti-dialer, Spyware Guard – running at startup.
- Anti- Virus: The AOL edition of McAfee
- Cryptainer – for encrypted data
- IMSecure – for IM security
- The Comodo Firewall – one of the best firewalls with lot of information too.
- The AOL Active Security Monitor – I find this a good way to benchmark how secure my computer is. If you can’t be bothered with updating definition files and so on, this will alert you more accurately than the windows security center.
- The McAfee Site Advisor and Calling ID for browser security – Calling Id places a new toolbar in your browser, I however like the idea of being able to find real addresses.
- Google Toolbar and AdBlock Plus – for ads and pop-ups
- Peer Guardian and Privacy Guardian – running at system startup
- Threat Fire (look for this on download.com) and WinPatrol – to monitor system changes, though both pop up alerts at the same time. I like the amount of information available on WinPatrol as an addition.
- Hotspot Shield – for Wifi Hotspot security. I don’t recommend putting this one in your startup because it adds a funny frame to your homepage- but that is a small price to pay for security at public wifi spots.
- TweakRAM – to optimise RAM
- Belarc for System Info, I particularly like Belarc because it checks for XP hotfixes.
There is also merit to keeping your desktop useless shortcuts free, there is nothing like a terribly full desktop to slow down a computer. Use msconfig to get rid of messengers that automatically startup and so on and so forth. Learn to use Launchy and keyboard shortcuts. For pete’s sake don’t keep important folders and documents on your desktop, where they are easily ‘accidentally’ deleted, consider placing a shortcut to these on your desktop instead.
Download and use Prism, of the many advantages of Prism one of them is the ability to place dedicated shortcuts to urls you use often. The good part is that while you can fully use the service in question, Gmail for example, there is little scope to browse to unsafe places since the url is fixed.
Bothering to learn a little bit about your computer and the way it works goes a long way in keeping both you and your computer happy. If you can’t be bothered, just install Ubuntu and forget everything else. However, if you did that I suppose none of this would apply anyway!