Seven No-Cost Security Tune-Ups for Windows

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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Network World's Howard Wen has a nice writeup today on seven no-cost tune-up tools and tips to keep your Windows operating system secure.

The following recommendations are critical for users who suspect they may already be infected with malware, spyware, trojans, or other malicious code, and are generally geared towards systems running Windows 7, Vista and XP.

A brief summary of Wen's recommendation are as follows:

Update Windows itself with Windows Update

  • "Many Windows users don't install the latest updates for the OS provided by Microsoft (which are usually issued every Tuesday). Either they ignore the update notices that Windows sends them, or their Windows setup doesn't have automatic updating turned on. But ensuring that your installation of Windows has the latest updates and patches is one of the easiest ways to keep it functioning well..."

Scan for malware with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

  • "If you cannot visit the official Malwarebytes site (either the domain is blocked, or you're forwarded to another domain), then your Windows system has already been infected by malicious code. That is a testament to how effective Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is -- many malware writers try to block you from using this specific tool..."

Remove unneeded programs with Revo Uninstaller

  • "You should uninstall applications from Windows that you don't use, or you don't recognize and are certain that your Windows system doesn't need. We like using Revo Uninstaller for this job, because it can be set to thoroughly delete the miscellaneous files, folders and settings that often remain when programs are removed using the standard uninstall function within the Windows control panel..."

Clean out temporary files and the Windows registry with CCleaner

  • "This popular tool washes Windows of Web browser cookies and miscellaneous, usually temporary files that it and other applications create. It can also quickly scan through the registry settings of Windows and remove entries that are no longer needed. Although deleting these items can free up quite a lot of space on your hard drive, it's debatable whether doing so really improves the overall performance of your computer..."

Check for updates to installed programs with FileHippo.com's Update Checker

  • "Rather than having to go through all your installed software one-by-one to check for updates to them, install FileHippo.com's Update Checker. This tool audits the programs installed on your Windows system, and then opens a page in your default Web browser listing links to download the latest versions of them (hosted on FileHippo.com)..."

Defrag the hard drive with Auslogics Disk Defrag

  • "After you've updated Windows, scanned for malware, and thoroughly removed programs and files you don't need, the last maintenance step you should do is defrag your Windows system's hard drive to optimize its speed and overall performance. There are a couple of decent defragging tools you can use over the one that comes with Windows..."

Use Chrome, Firefox or Opera as your default browser -- then pick one of the remaining two as your back-up

  • "We're suggesting that you don't use Internet Explorer or, for that matter, Safari. We're sorry to knock on them, but neither is as secure as Chrome, Firefox or Opera. IE 10 is certainly safer to use than previous versions, but significant security flaws that could expose your Windows system to malicious code online tend to crop up with it..."

For a more detailed description of each of the recommendations, as well as information on where to find the free tools mentions, please refer to Wen's article at IT World here:

Source:  http://www.itworld.com/software/181761/7-free-windows-tune-tools-and-tips

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