Don't be afraid to reinstall Windows! It's not hard,
especially if you install onto a blank hard drive instead of wiping your
Do install your F6 SATA drivers instead of the ones built
into Windows. You won't be able to take advantage of advanced features
Do use a slipstreamed Windows XP install disc with the
latest Service Pack built in.
Do collect drivers for all of your software and burn them to
CD or DVD before you format your hard drive.
Do disconnect your old hard drive before you install
Windows. You don't want to accidentally erase all your files!
Don't copy data or files from your old hard drive
until your new machine is protected.
Don't waste a bunch of time trying to repair a hopelessly
infected Windows install. It can take more time to clean off the
infected files than to back up your data and reinstall Windows.
Don't connect your computer to the Internet until you have a
firewall installed and configured.
Do run a weekly antivirus and anti-spyware scans. This
cannot be emphasized enough.
Don't forget the firewall. A firewall will protect
even an unpatched system in the event a new, undocumented work attacks.
Do set your antivirus software to scan every new downloaded
and every e-mail attachment.
Don't assume your virus and spyware definitions are up to
date. Check them frequently to make sure everything is in order.
Do run several anti-spyware apps regularly.
Don't freak out if your firewalls warns you your computer is
being probed. Every computer on the Internet is regularly scanned by
Do ensure your firewall is working properly and your virus
definitions are yup to date before you connect your laptop to a foreign
network. Public Wi-Fi networks are the Thai brothels of the PC world.
Don't hide file extensions in Windows. Tricky viruses
hide their real extensions behind innocuous extensions. For example,
the file dirtyvirus.jpg.exe will look like dirtyvirus.jpg in many e-mail
programs. Show file extensions by going to the Folder Options control
panel, clicking the View Tab, and ensuring that "Hide extensions for known
file types" is unchecked.
Do keep your software (including Windows) patched and up to
Do use safer programs like Firefox and Thunderbird instead
of internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Because these alternative,
open-source programs are less popular and don't support inherently unsecure
ActiveX Controls, they're loess venerable to attack.
Don't leave ActiveX enabled for all web sites. Disable
it by going to the Security tab of the Internet control panel, clicking
Internet, then Custom Level, and selecting Disable for every object in the
Active X section.
Do enable ActiveX only for the Windows Update site so you
can download Windows updates. Go back to the Security tab of the
Internet control panel, select Trusted Sites, then click Sites and add
Don't install apps from web sites you don't trust.
Most spyware piggyback on tiny downloads pretending to be utilities or
applets necessary to view certain web sites.
Don't click on e-mail attachments from strangers, or
download software from pop-up ads. That free kitten screensaver or cursor
collection might be tempting, but you're sure to catch web cooties if you
take the bait.
Do stay away from peer-to-peer apps! Apps like Kazza
are chock-full of spyware! Free music isn't worth the price to pay in
Don't compress the contents of you hard drive to save space.
Compression slows down you while machine. Just buy a new drive.
Don't download, install, and uninstall random apps and
screensavers from the Internet. They're common vectors for web
Don't install Windows SP over a precious installation.
Always format your hard drive and install Windows from scratch for optimal
Don't install more than one antivirus utility and firewall.
These programs need low-level access to the operating system it can cause
major problems for Windows if multiple apps are competing for resources.
Do block firewall access to programs you're unfamiliar with.
Do create Windows XP restore points before installing
drivers, service packs, or other system-altering software.
Do be wary of "system optimization" software that doesn't
tell you exactly what it's going to do! These apps usually deliver nothing
more than snake oil.
Do clean the fans inside your PC case regularly in order to
keep them running at maximum efficiency.
Do defragment your hard drive peroidically to ensure maximum
Do run "msconfig" occasionally and trim your PC's startup
programs to just the essentials.