Windows XP Tips for Computer Security

by: Chris Kaminski

Here are a couple of tips to speed up your Windows XP computer and help keep you protected and secure online. First you need to control which programs load on startup: Many of the programs you install on your computer automatically configure themselves to launch at startup, usually invisibly. The truly essential ones, such as anti-virus and firewall products, generally run as services and run fine in the background. Other less important software like media players don't need to be running continually.

These extra programs slow the boot process and then severely suck up resources like memory and CPU cycles. It is pretty easy to control which applications launch on startup. The System Configuration Utility lists all these applications in one place:

1) To get there: Click the ‘Start' button then choose the ‘Run' command.

2) In the text box type "msconfig". - Across the top of the dialog box select the ‘Startup' tab.

3) The Startup Tab lists all the programs that launch at start-up. To disable any of these simply un-check the box on the left. Only non-essential programs are listed here it should be safe to un-check pretty much anything. If it turns out you needed it just go back and re-check it.

4) Once you are done re-boot the machine.

5) When the Desktop returns you will be presented with a window that says you have chosen Selective Startup. Just Check "Do not show this window again" and click OK.

To keep your computer secure, turn on automatic updates. Seems like every virus writer has nothing better to do then attack Windows operating systems. Keeping the system patches and security fixes is critical. During the setup of XP Service Pack 2 with a new computer or an up-grade you are asked whether or not to turn on automatic updates, if you made the mistake of checking no you can find this option in the Windows Security Center (Start / Control Panel) and change it back. Even with all its faults, XP is a powerful operating system that has many good security features.

Here are some more tips to help you get the most out of your operating system. Remove Windows components not found in ADD / REMOVE. Many Windows components, things like Network Services or Solitaire are easy to remove through the Add or Remove programs configuration window (Start / ControlPanel / Add and Remove Programs / Windows Components). Simply un-check them, but … some things are deliberately hidden.

A good example would be MSN Messenger. To remove this from startup follow these steps:

1) In Windows Explorer (right click Start / Explore), navigate to C:WindowsInf and make a copy of Sysoc.inf.

2) Double click on Sysoc.inf and it will open in Notepad.

3) Press Ctrl H (opens Find and Replace) and replace the string ,hide, with ,, then save and replace the file. Now all the hidden components will appear.

4) Then follow the steps above for removing programs from the startup menu.

To restore a corrupted system file: If a necessary system file should become missing or corrupted by a virus you can replace it from your Windows CD.

1) Go to Start / Search and type in the file name replacing the last letter with an underscore (ex. Filename.ex_).

2) If the file is found, open a command prompt (Start / Run, type CMD in the textbox).

3) At the prompt type expand followed by the full pathname of the file and destination (expand D:Windowsfilename.ex_ C:Windowsfilename.exe) where D: is the letter of your disc drive. If either pathname contains spaces surround the entire pathname with double quotes. If the file isn't found search again using the un-modified file name, it is probably in a CAB file, Windows treats these as folders, simply drag the new folder to the destination while holding down the right mouse button then select Copy Here.