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Software Advice for Security and Optimization

Last response: in Windows XP
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May 1, 2010 9:42:40 PM

I decided to update and optimize my P.C. I’m running Window’s XP – Professional. My CPU is a Intel Pentium D with 2 GB of memory and a 320 GB Hard Drive.

I just finished spent two hours uninstalling programs from Windows Uninstaller. I then spend another couple hours researching security and optimization software to maximize the performance and protection of my system.

Below is a list of Security Software and Optimization Software that I recently installed. Let me know if you have any suggestions on additional software, or better alternatives.

Security Software

Antivirus

AGV 9.0 – (Full Version for 30-days)
http://download.cnet.com/AVG-Anti-Virus/3000-2239_4-103...

When my trial expires, will the free version be sufficient?

Spyware/Mawware Removal


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.46
http://download.cnet.com/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware/3000...;pop

AND

Spy Bot: Search and Destroy 1.62
http://download.cnet.com/Spybot-Search-amp-Destroy/3000...

I read a recommendation to have two spyware removal programs.

FireWall

Zone Alarm 9.1.002 (Have Not Installed Yet)
http://download.cnet.com/ZoneAlarm/3000-10435_4-1003988...

I have downloaded Zone Alarm but I have not installed it yet. I wanted to see if this would cause a conflict with AGV Firewall. I used Zone Alarm back in my Windows 98 days and loved it.

FireFox Add Ons


AVG Safe Search (Included with AVG Sofware)

No Script 1.9.9.71 (Already Installed)
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/722

Blocks scripts from entrusted sites

Spamavert.com 1.2 (Already Installed)
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4533

This isn’t necessarily a security software, but if you download a lot of stuff that requires you to use your email address. This tool is for you!


Optimization Tools

Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1.4.110
http://download.cnet.com/Auslogics-Disk-Defrag/3000-209...

Defrags your hard drive, which I have never done on my computer. However, when I run this program it says that there is little benefit because I have less than 10% left on my hard drive.

CCleaner 2.31.1153
http://download.cnet.com/ccleaner/?tag=mncol

In my opinion, this is the best optimization tool I downloaded. It can clean up just about any part of your computer.

SG TCP Optimizer 2.0.3
http://download.cnet.com/SG-TCP-Optimizer/3000-2155_4-1...

Unless someone can convince me that this program can help me, I am going to remove this. My speed didn’t change, and I am already running close to my maximum speed. I was being greedy, and it was dumb of me to even get this.

Process Explorer 12.03
http://download.cnet.com/Process-Explorer/3000-2094_4-1...

It doesn’t require and install, which is spectacular. It is glorified System Task Manager to close programs that are running in the background. I haven’t had time to check out all the features, but it has a small footprint and worth checking out.

Programs That I Have Not Installed Yet

I have downloaded the following programs, but have not installed them on my computer. Are they better than existing files on my computer, or not worth my time?

HiJackThis.exe (Downloaded But Not Installed Yet)
http://free.antivirus.com/hijackthis/

Generates Report of registry and file settings from your computer. Note: This appears to be a program that could cause damage to my computer. I would use it for monitoring only.

Revo Uninstaller (Downloaded But Not Installed Yet)
http://download.cnet.com/Revo-Uninstaller/3000-2096_4-1...

It looks like this is similar to CCleaner. Before I install, does anyone have any experience with Revo getting rid of files that CCleaner wouldn’t?

TuneXP 1.5 (Haven’t Installed Yet)
http://download.cnet.com/TuneXP/3000-2086_4-10290929.ht...

It looks similar to other programs that are offered, but it also has some great reviews. Do you recommend it over any other of my software?


Additional System Optimization Questions:


Storage:
I am getting low on hard drive space and I would like to better manage my hard drive. Is there a program that allows me to analyze my hard drive space and show where large files are located, type of files that are taking up space, etc?

What are the pro’s and cons of partitioning a hard drive? Is there any benefit for me to partisan my drive at this point? My system is pretty full. I am down to 40 GB of my 320 GB Hard Drive.

Performance:
Are their any setting tweaks that I can do to increase speed and performance? I’m not talking about overclocking, because this Pentium D with enough footprint already. I am more talking along the lines of memory settings (not buying new memory), because I am gong to do a build soon.


Sorry for the long post, I just thought I better do my research ahead of time so I can ask all my questions at once.
a b 8 Security
May 2, 2010 6:34:38 AM

I'd dump AVG. It's a bit resource hungry, and doesn't catch as much as it should. I would recommend Avira, Avast, or microsoft security essentials instead.

As far as firefox ad-ons go, I like AdBlock plus. You can use it to block ads and flash banners.

I do use revo uninstaller. It's great for removing all traces of software. Some programs leave trace files or registry entries, but revo can usually remove all of them. I would use the revo uninstall feature before I'd use the ccleaner uninstall feature (I have both).

Malwarebytes is great for scanning for malware.

Spybot can also be useful in scanning for malware, but malwarebytes is probably the best, and likely all you need.

The rest of the software I would remove.

You can use software like jdisk to analyze your hard drive use.
http://www.jgoodies.com/freeware/jdiskreport/

The biggest benefit to partitioning a hard drive, is if you need to reinstall your OS. If you put your OS only on a partition, you can reinstall your OS without effecting your user files. Other than that, you could likely leave it as is.

To increase performance, you could look at removable storage. If your hard drive is that full, you could back some of that up to a flash drive or external drive, and remove it from your main drive. You can run msconfig and weed out unnecessary startup programs/services. You can check the startup folder for unnecessary programs. You can move large from from the desktop, and replace them with shortcuts, to help the desktop load quicker.
May 2, 2010 7:19:52 AM

Thank you aford. I feel less is more, so anything I can remove but still feel protected is my preference.

This summer I am going to attempt my first build. I would love to get a ssd drive, but I think the cost is still too high. I'm not going to do RAID, so what do you think would give me the best performance? (all thing else being equal)

A large internal hard drive (1 to 1.5 TB), partitioned but with all all my files.

Two internal drives: One small drive for my OS and other system files. Second internal drive that is large to store my media and documents.

An internal an external drive: One small internal hard drive for my OS and system files. A large external drive for all my media and document files.

One final question I forgot to ask above, what is the general feeling on paging file size? I currently have mine 2042-4092. This is either the default setting or a program changed this, because I didn't know this existed. Is that a fairly standard set up. I also noticed they had an option called "System Manage Size," which would seem more appropriate.

Thanks again
Related resources
a b 8 Security
May 2, 2010 7:34:28 AM

If you have the $$, a SSD can really improve your boot times. However, at the current prices, it may not be the best option for price/performance.

This is currently one of the top performing price/performance drives available.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As prices of SSD drives fall, it would be a good option for a boot drive.

Yep, your current page file setup is fine. The normal recommendation is ~1.5 times the size of your physical RAM.
May 2, 2010 7:52:57 AM

Great! Thanks...I love the adblock plus...It got rid of some nasty pop ups that were annoying me. What is still annoying me are those pop up ads that appear when you scroll over a random word on certain websites. So many sites use them now, and I can't stand them.

Thanks again, you have been a great help. I can now live with my current performance and it should get me buy until I scrap up enough cash to buy all the system parts that I want for a new build. Maybe even hold me off long enough to save for one of those ssd drives!
a b 8 Security
May 2, 2010 1:31:32 PM

Those pop ups are called contentlink. They can be disabled by modifying your host file. I would suggest making a copy of your original host file first, because if it's done wrong, it can screw up the way everything displays in your browser.
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