Windows Security and Maintenance

While hitchhiking around, I have found that my technical skills have had me fixing more than one computer of a gracious host. In fact, my first laptop I purchased for only $500 dollars (which, at the time, was a third the cost it should have been) because the owner thought it was long gone. It wasn't, it just needed a little touching up and to have a particularly nasty virus removed.

What follows is a brief guide for PC owners (sorry Mac users, you're just going to have to settle for having a Unix-based OS that already borders on perfection). The instructions are geared towards Windows XP, assuming that the computer is set up factory defaults with one hard drive mapped to "Local Drive C:" (and not set up some other funky way). If this isn't you, but you still want to play along, then modify where needed or turn tail now.

The only thing these steps cost is time. Donating this time beforehand saves both time and money in the future.

Legal Stuff: The steps here included are for entertainment purposes only, and are not meant to be followed. The author has no vested interest in system security, and does not actually use any security software or maintenance applications. The links included are not meant to be clicked, and are for effect only. Any names or web-site references have been completely fabricated, and any resemblance they may bear to actual similar applications, sites or people are completely by chance. Mi nombre es Inigo Montoya. You killed mi padre. Prepare to die!


All of these steps will need to be performed from an administrator login to your computer. If you have only one login on your system, then you are already likely logged in as an admin. If you have more, and are unsure, you may want to check ("Start" menu, "Control Panel," "User Accounts") if you are "Limited" or "Adminstrator." If you're limited, logout and into one listed with admin access, or contact those who have admin access.

When you're logged in as an administrator, create a folder (I suggest on your Desktop) that will store your Security and Maintenance shortcuts. This will be your one-stop folder to remind your computer that you love it. If you're not sure how to create this folder, here's how:

1. Right-click anywhere empty on your desktop.
2. From the menu that appears, move your mouse cursor over "New."
3. From the New menu, choose "Folder."
4. Type in an appropriate name for your folder (e.g., "Computer Lovins").
5. Press the "Enter" (or "Return") key on your keyboard when finished.


You should already be using Firefox. If not, hit yourself three times, cry, forgive yourself, then goto this entry, first, before continuing. What remains in need is an application to hunt down malicious applications and data on your system. For that, I suggest Spybot, Anti-Walware, SUPERAntiSpyware and Trend Micro's "HouseCall" (the free online virus scanner). Since you may already be using one or more of these, I'll separate the installation and configuration steps for each.

NOTE: Security should be performed about once a week, every two-weeks at the latest. On some systems, I would suggest a startup scan on their computer. If you want this, then be prepared to wait through each scan every single time you start up your computer.

I originally had typed up a full entry on this section. However, MajorGeeks put a lot of work into creating a more in-depth section. I will reference there exact links when needed.

[incomplete, 2 b continued]

HouseCall: [requires broadband]
1. Click inside this text-box:

2. Once the URL is highlighted, click on the pull-down "Edit" menu and choose "Copy" (If the entire URL doesn't auto-highlight, choose "Select All" from the "Edit" menu, first).
3. Open the Security and Maintenance folder you created.
4. From the "File" menu, navigate to "New," then choose "Shortcut."
5. The "Create Shortcut" window should appear.
6. Holding down the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard, press "V" to paste the URL.
7. Click "Next."
8. Type in a name for the Housecall shortcut (aka, "Trend Micro HouseCall").
9. Click "Finish" once named.
10. Open your new shortcut (which should open HouseCall in Firefox).
11. If you accept the Terms of Use, then check this box.
12. Click the "Launch HouseCall" button.
13. Under "Using Java-based HouseCall kernal," click on the "Starting HouseCall" button.
14. The "Java Platform" should load in the System Tray (in the lower-right section of your screen, just to the left of your System Clock). If not, you should be taken to a screen with instructions on how to install or update your version of Java.
15. When the Security Warning appears, be sure to check the box next to "Always trust content from this publisher."
16. Click "Run."
17. Under "Scan complete computer for [...]," click the "Next" button.
18. Close all video and audio players, and leave your computer alone while HouseCall scans your system. When Step 3 is highlighted, and HouseCall switches to the "Results" tab, the scan is complete.
19. If prompted, click "OK" at the end of the scan.
20. If you have no "Detected Vulnerabilities," skip to Step 25. Otherwise, perform steps 21 thru 23 for each vulnerability.
21. Click on the "More information about this vulnerability and its elimination." below the vulnerability to open a knowledge base article on it.
22. Locate and click the link to download the patch file.
23. Save the file to disk.
24. Run all saved patches once you've finished all other HouseCall steps.
25. Click the button to clean all infections (if any are found).
26. When prompted, confirm the deletions.
27. When the cleaning finishes, exit HouseCall

Once you have all three security applications set up and configured in this way, you should run them at least once a month. I suggest once a week. Spybot, configured this way, you only need to open then walk away. It will update, scan and delete, and you will only need to "OK" out of the application once it's finished. Ad-Aware, you will need to right-click and "Remove" all infections, but it will scan for you as soon as you've opened it. HouseCall is more needy, and you'll have to do some cleaning. However, you can use it to scan individual files you've downloaded if they're suspected of any threats.


Maintenance consists of cleaning your computer's registry using the free "RegSeeker" application, using your system's "Disk Cleanup" to touch up your hard drive, then your system's "Disk Defragmenter" to tune up how your files are stored on your drive. To make this more easy to perform on a monthly basis, I am including a setup section, then how to run each application.

NOTE: This is assuming that you already have WinZip. If not, a free trial can be downloaded from the website.

1. Visit this URL:
2. Scroll to the very bottom, looking for the "::FREEWARE::" box.
3. Click on the top "Download RegSeeker" link.
4. Click on the button next to "Download Now."
5. When prompted, choose to "Open With WinZip."
6. When the download completes, WinZip should open.
7. In WinZip, click the "Extract" button.
8. When the Extract window opens, locate the "Security and Maintenance" folder you created.
9. Double-click on this folder.
10. Click on the New Folder icon in the top-right corner of the Extract window.
11. Type in a name for your RegSeeker folder.
12. Click "OK."
13. Click on this folder in the Extract window to highlight.
14. Click "Extract."
15. Once extraction completes, close WinZip.
16. Open your Security and Maintenance folder.
17. Open your RegSeeker folder.
18. Locate the RegSeeker.exe file.
19. Right-click on this file.
20. Choose "Copy" from the context-menu that appears.
21. Go back to your Maintenance and Security folder.
22. Right-click on an empty space in this folder.
23. Choose "Paste Shortcut" from the menu.
24. Click on the "Start" menu.
25. Navigate to "All Programs," then "Accessories," then "System Tools."
26. Right-click on "Disk Cleanup."
27. Choose "Copy."
28. Go back to Maintenance and Security, then Right-click on an empty space.
29. Choose "Paste Shortcut."
30. From "Start," go back to "All Programs" > "Accessories" > "System Tools."
31. Right-click on "Disk Deframenter."
32. "Copy," then go back to your Security and Maintenance folder.
33. Right-click and "Paste Shortcut."
34. Locate that RegSeeker zip file where it downloaded.
35. Drag the zip to your Recycle Bin, then empty it.

1. Double-click to open your RegSeeker shortcut.
2. In the left sidebar of RegSeeker, click "Clean the Registry."
3. Click the "Auto Clean" button.
4. Click on "Select All."
5. Click on "Go!" to start.
6. Close all video or audio players, and let the scan run.
7. When prompted, click "OK."
8. Quit RegSeeker.

Disk Cleanup:
1. Open Disk Cleanup.
2. Wait while calculating. If waiting more than an hour, close and do not use Cleanup.
3. Click the "More Options" tab.
4. Under "System Restore," click "Clean up."
5. Confirm the deletion.
6. When finished, click the "Disk Cleanup" tab.
7. Click the "OK" button to begin cleanup.
8. Confirm the cleanup.
9. Wait while cleaning. You'll know cleaning is complete when the application closes itself.

Disk Defragmenter:
1. Open Disk Defragmenter.
2. Click the "Defragment" button.
4. After analysis, you may be prompted whether to continue. Choose to defragment.
5. Close all other applications when defragmenting, and let your computer work.
6. You will be prompted once defragmentation is complete.
7. "OK" out of the prompt.
8. If defragmentation results are displayed, close out of these.
9. Close Disk Defragmenter.

You should run these three, in this order, at least once a month. Your computer, if you've never done this before, will likely perform better to a noticeable extent. The setup involved is lengthy, but later and more regular uses mean the process is more simple, and finished with more quickly. The time you will save on your computer, and the addition to your computer's life, are worth the investment.

NOTE: The author has no love for third-party applications that install spyware, or are otherwise ill coded, which may not run correctly once these utilities have been run. Instant Messengers, free Tetris games, and much more are all suspect. Shop more wisely, as these applications drain your system's performance power and may intend it direct harm.

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