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Computer Tips, Tweaks, Reviews,XP,Vista, Software, Guides, and More

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Last edited 10:58am 4/10/08

  • Table of Contents*

-The Basics of Computers, Power Supply -XP/Vista/Speed Up/Tweaks -Protecting Your PC -Several PC problems you will encounter -Reformatting -Mac Talk -Downloads -Credits

  • Choosing A Computer*

This is the popular question about computers: What should I get? This section should basically give you a good walk through on what you should get. [b]All the prices listed are estimates not exact prices[/b]

  • The Right Computer For You*

To help you decide on what type of computer you will get, think about whether: A. you will be moving around a lot and want a small and light computer B. you want raw power, even if it means a 2 foot tall case tower, and need the computer on at all times Now if you chose A, you need the laptop. If you chose B, you need the desktop.

  • The next set of questions involves both the laptop and the desktop. So consider this:*

A. You only need a PC for work, a bit of e-mail, and some easy Web browsing. B. You are gonna listen to music, watch a few movies and videos, a bit of DVDs, play a few causal games, and burn some CDs. C. You are gonna play a bunch of games, edit music and movies, and burn a bunch of CDs and DVDs. D. You need all the power you can get - you'll be playing the most hardware-intense games on the market, scan both viruses and spyware while playing a game and defragmenting a hard drive all at the same time, and edit movies, vids, pics and more while burning discs and doing a Photoshop job.

  • If you chose A, you can get a good, cheap computer, well under $500 for desktops, and $700 for laptops.*

The hardware stats that should be included:

  • An Intel Duo Core or AMD 64x2
  • 1 Gig of Memory/ 2 if you want
  • Integrated audio and graphics
  • 150 or more GB of hard drive space
  • CD/RW or a DVD drive, or a combo drive
  • Windows Xp/ or Vista
  • If you chose B, get an entertainment computer, usually under $800 for desktops, and $1000 for laptops, or even less.*

The hardware stats that should be included:

  • An Intel Duo Core Processor AMD Athon 64
  • 1 GB to 2 GB of shared memory, DDR2.
  • Integrated graphics and audio, separate graphics card if you want
  • 150 or more GB of hard drive space
  • 300+ Power Watt
  • Combo drive or a DVD/RW drive
  • Windows Xp or Vista
  • If you chose C, get a good gaming computer, well under $1300 for desktops, and $2000 for laptops and less.*

The hardware stats that should be included:

  • An Intel Core Duo 2 processor, Intel Quad Core Processor, AMD 64X2 Dual Core Processors, Or Quad Core Processor
* 2 or 3 GB of memory, DDR2.
* Dedicated graphics card with at least 256 MB dedicated, and PCI-E slot. Integrated audio.
* 200 or more GB of hard drive space
* 500+ Power Watt
* Windows Vista if you want DX10, of course you need a video card that supports dx10 like 8600, 8800, 9600 etc, and Windows Xp if you want DX9 and  maybe more speed
  • DVD/RW drive

  • If you chose D, you'll need the best damn thing ever. The prices can rise up to $1000-$10,000 depending on how hardcore you want.*

The hardware stats should include:

  • An Intel Quad Core/ AMD Phenom/ Intel Duo Core Extreme/ AMD 64x2 maybe if you want the 3.0ghz+ one
  • 3to 4 GB of memory, DDR2. (4gigs if your going to run 64bit OS) or 32bit if you want
  • Dedicated graphics card with at least 512 MB, PCI-E slot, which you can dual sli or quad sli however you like it. Dedicated audio card
  • 500 GB or more GB of hard drive space. Best if you get a 10000 RPM drive. those come in like 150gigs though
  • 750+ power watt
  • DVD/RW drive
* Vista Home Premium/ Ultimate for full DX10 gaming experience
  • Major ass cooling System

  • A note on processors*
  • IF YOU HAVE A BUDGET, get an AMD processor. You wont regret it, and the processing speed difference is unnoticeable.
  • If you need the power or overclock frequently, go ahead and get an Intel processor. But they're more expensive. *ONLY OVERCLOCK IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!*
  • Unleashing The Power Within XP*

If you didn't know, XP wasn't tweaked when you first bought your PC. Now with these tips, you can take advantage of your PC, such as speeding up page loading times, and optimizing your processor efficiency.

  • Subtopics*
  • Tweaking XP - The Simple Way
  • Advanced Tweaking (ADVANCED USERS ONLY)
  • Tweaking Vista- The Simple Way
  • Increasing Boot Times*
  • Tweaking XP - The Simple Way*

Easy: just download a few programs and whatnot. A free choice is Tweak UI, the free PowerToy from Microsoft. Google it up, download, and install. It allows settings not seen in Control Panel to be changed.

My personal choice is TuneUp Utilities, which is not free, but is a handy tool. With that program, you can do a lot, from changing your boot and login screens and formats, optimizing Internet connections, and cleaning out and fixing up the registry, to optimizing system performance values. Its a handy tool, and the trial is available at cnets

Another great tool, even though not free, is Diskeeper. It claims to defrag more files in a faster time than Microsofts included Disk Defragmenter in a shorter time, which is actually true from a test I conducted. I got 2 computers, fresh from a reformat, and all of its drivers and the same programs installed. One ran Diskeeper, the other ran the default defragmenter. Diskeeper finished the job in around an hour, while the other defragmenter finished when I finally woke up after a good nights sleep, so... 9 hours? Big difference, huh? And the computers were the same - 10 GB formatted Macbooks on a Windows XP partition, with the same stats. So Id recommend Diskeeper to those whod like to invest a little money into faster document loading times, leading to faster virus scans and a faster computer in general. The trial is avaliable - check the Downloads section.

TweakNow RegCleaner Standard is one of the free tools I use to maintain my PC. Its quite useful, scanning for obsolete entries that can conflict with your PC, and thus speeding up the computer. However, many Unknowns can pop up, and itd be annoying to click every single one of them, since the last version I reviewed had no select all feature for the Unknowns.

To make a Shutdown shortcut on your desktop, right click on your desktop, then click create New Shortcut. In the Location text box, type "shutdown -s -t 0" (without the quotation marks). Name it anything you want (Shutdown is the most common) and click OK. Now whenever you wanna shut down, just click this shortcut and watch the ahem... magic. Thanks to Magixren for bringing that tip up.

Type "shutdown -r -t 0" to make it a restart button. Type "shutdown -l" to make it a logoff button. Type "shutdown -s" to make it a standby button. Type "shutdown -h" to make it a hibernate button.

  • Advanced Tweaking*

NOTE: I'm not sure whether these tweaks work in Vista, so if you use Vista, avoid this section until I get more information about Vista compatibility. And these tweaks proved to work in Windows XP. Another note: These tweaks can easily be triggered through Tune-Up Utilities, but if you can't afford it (or crack it lol) then check out this section.

  • ADVANCED USERS ONLY - Registry tweaks*

To access the Registry, you must be an administrator. Go to Run, type in "regedit" and hit OK. Registry Editor pops out and you're ready to risk screwing up your PC big time. :P And any tweak requires a system restart, so after you're done tweaking what you need, restart to see its effect.

  • Force Windows to Unload DLLs from Memory*

Why tweak: Windows automatically keeps DLLs loaded in memory in case applications using it are launched later on. This can be a problem on systems with 512 MB or less, because of memory shortage. This tweak will disable DLL caching. To tweak: Find the key [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorer]. Create a new sub-key named "AlwaysUnloadDLL" and set the default value to 1. Delete the sub-key to re-enable DLL caching.

  • Disable Core System Paging*

Why tweak: On default, Windows pages the system core to the disk to save memory space. This immensely slows down your PC as memory access is much faster than disk access. By disabling this feature, the core system will be kept in memory, speeding up system performance. DO NOT USE THIS TWEAK IF YOU HAVE LESS THAN 512 MB OF RAM. To tweak: Find the value "DisablePagingExecutive" in the key [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession Manager]. Change the value to 1. Change the value to 0 to re-enable core system caching.

  • Other tweaks*

Here is a tweak that doesn't require traveling through the Registry:

Disabling the Wireless Configuration Zero service

If YOU ARE CONNECTED ON A WIRELESS CONNECTION, DO NOT DISABLE THIS SERVICE. To those who are connected through Ethernet, disabling this service will speed up boot and login times. To do this, go to Control Panel, select Classic View, then go to Administrative Tools, then open Services. Look for the "Wireless Configuration Zero" service, then double-click it. Stop the service then select "Disabled" in the Startup Type drop box. The computer should load a bit faster now.

  • Speeding Up Vista/Tweaks*

Windows Vista is a great looking operating system with some awesome features, but it can be slow as molasses unless you've got a hugely powerful PC to run it. For most computers however, a few quick Vista tweaks can make a massive difference in the speed of Vista for everyday use. Here's a list of recommended Vista performance and speed tweaks:

[header]Turn off Windows Search Indexing (Vista)[/header] Windows Vista search indexing is constantly reviewing files on your system to make their contents available for quick searching. This is handy, but can severely impact system performance. To disable this constant indexing:

  • Click Start then Computer
  • Right Click the C: Drive
  • On General Tab, Uncheck Index this drive for faster searching
  • On the subsequent dialog box, Select Include subfolders and files
  • Turn off Remote Differential Compression(Vista)*

Remote Differential Compression measures the changes in files over a network to transfer them with minimal bandwidth rather than transferring an entire file that has previously been moved. By constantly checking for file changes, this service can hinder system performance. To disable this service:

  • Open Control Panel
  • Switch to Classic View
  • Select Program Features
  • Choose Turn Windows features on and off
  • Scroll down and uncheck Remote Differential Compression
  • Special Note: Windows Vista has the same tendency as XP to get bogged down with a bloated and corrupt Windows registry and file system. We strongly recommend keeping Vista running in optimum condition using an app like RegCure PC Optimizer: (Recommended)
  • Turn off Automatic Windows Defender Operation(Vista)*

Windows Defender real-time protection against malware continues to run despite having Automatic operation disabled. To disable this feature:

  • Open Control Panel
  • Select Windows Defender
  • Choose Tools from the top menu
  • Select Options
  • Uncheck Auto Start at the bottom of the window
  • Turn off Automatic Disk Defragmentation(Vista)*

Windows Vista and its always-on defragment feature isn't really that necessary and can cause system slow down. Just remember to run a defrag manually every week or so. To disable this:

  • Click Start then Computer
  • Right Click the C: Drive
  • Select the Tools Tab
  • Uncheck Run on a schedule
  • Important: Keeping your hard drive defragmented is key to great system performance, but it's very important not to neglect Vista's core files, dll structure, and file/path reference system.
  • Add a 2GB or higher USB Flash drive to take advantage of Windows Ready Boost (Additional Memory Cache)(Vista)*

Ready Boost is Microsoft's name for using a USB thumb/flash drive to provide some quick access memory the operating system can use as extra RAM. The Ready Boost system can significantly improve system performance.

 To set this up:
  • Insert a USB Flash Drive (preferably 2GB or more)
  • Click Start then Computer
  • Right Click the USB Drive in My Computer
  • Select the Ready Boost Tab
  • Choose Use this device
  • Select as much space as you can free up for RAM usage vs. Storage
  • Turn off Windows Hibernation(Vista)*

Windows hibernation background services can use a large amount of system resources. If you don't use the Hibernate feature on a regular basis you may want to disable it to give Vista a performance boost. To disable Hibernation:

  • Select the Control Panel then Power Options
  • Click Change Plan Settings
  • Click on Change Advanced Power Settings
  • Expand the Sleep selection
  • Expand the Hibernate After selection
  • Crank the selector down to zero
  • Click Apply
  • Turn off System Restore(Vista)*

Analysis and restore point creation by Windows Vista can eat a fair amount of system resources. Disabling this service will obviously mean the system restore feature in Vista will not be available in the event of a system crash. Change this at your own risk.

  • Control Panel>System
  • Click System Protection on the left panel
  • Uncheck the main system drive
  • Disable User Access Control (UAC)(Vista)*

This much-loathed new Vista feature attempts to protect your system from malware infection by making you manually confirm a whole host of everyday user operations. While it doesn't directly impact performance, it can be annoying and might be more hassle than good. To disable User Access Control:

  • Click Start then Control Panel
  • Select User Accounts
  • Select Turn User Account Control on or off
  • Uncheck User Account Control Box
  • Restart as recommended
  • Disable excess Windows Services that Auto-Launch at Startup(Vista)*

Just like Windows XP, Vista ships with all kinds of services enabled that load at startup and may never be used by most users. To see what loads at startup and disable the ones you likely won't be needing (they can always be started manually later):

  • Click Start then Control Panel
  • Select Administrative Tools
  • Choose System Configuration
  • Click the Services Tab
  • You can safely deselect:
         * Offline Files (unless you're using Offline File Sync)
         *Tablet PC Input Service (unless you have a tablet PC)
         * Terminal Services
         * Windows Search (If you have already disabled indexing)
         * Fax (unless you're using a fax modem)
  • Disable Excess Windows Features(Vista)*

Windows ships with other features that are listed separately in the Vista operating system from the startup services. You can view and disable these features by:

  • Clicking Start then Control Panel
  • Select Program Features
  • On the left panel, select Turn Windows Features on or off
  • You can safely deselect:
         * Indexing Service
         * Remote Differential Compression
         * Tablet PC Optional Components
         * Windows DFS Replication Service
         * Windows Fax & Scan (unless you use a modem for faxing)
         * Windows Meeting Space (unless you use the Live Meeting Service)
  • Windows Vista Tweaks*

Here are some more tweaks that can be done with Vista to either increase speed, or to fit your need for speed. Remember to create a restore point if your lazy to do this and revert back.

  • Customize the size of desktop and file icons(Vista)*

For some time, it has been possible to adjust font size in office documents and Web browsers simply by holding down the CTRL key while rolling your mouse wheel up and down. In Vista, the same action lets you tweak the size of your desktop icons. Just click on an empty area of the desktop, hold down CTRL, and spin your mouse wheel until the icons are the size you want. You can also adjust the size of your file or folder icons in Windows Explorer by doing the same thing. This is extremely handy for viewing thumbnails of images.

  • Increase SATA drive performance(Vista)*

This tip ?enhances? drive performance by allowing the drive in question to perform more write caching to system memory. The danger is if your system loses power and you do not have a backup power source (UPS), whatever data is cached to system memory will be lost. If you?re the adventurous type and want a bit more responsiveness out of your system, click Start, type Device Manager in the Search box, click the Device Manager, open up the Disk drives tree, right-click a drive, and select Properties. Go to the Policies tab and check ?Enable Advanced Performance.? Click OK.

  • Speed up Flip3D(Vista)*

This tip will be useful for notebook owners or anyone whose PC is packing less than stellar graphics processing power. The Flip3D animation can bog down weaker graphics cards if it has to flip a lot of windows, so this is a tweak that lets you set the number of windows that will be rendered in 3D at one time.

? Click on the Start Button, type regedit in the Search bar, and press Enter. ? Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Windows, and DWM. ? Create a new DWORD and call it Max3DWindows. ? Set the value of this to something between four and nine (?4? and ?9?) depending on the performance of your card (a higher number requires more video card power). You should then feel free to experiment to find the best value for your computer. Restart your PC to finalize the change.

  • Discover what applications are linked to certain processes*

The Processes tab of the Windows XP Task Manager was a confusing, barren wasteland of cryptically-named processes. If you wanted to find out which application was responsible for a certain process, all you could do was to copy down the name of the executable, and then search for it in Windows to locate it or Google it. This was an annoying process. Thankfully, Microsoft has fixed this in Vista by adding an ?open file location? option when you right-click any process. Doing so opens the folder the process is running from, which can help you figure out if a certain process can be turned off or not. You can also click ?View? at the top of the Task Manager and click Select Columns to select which columns to display.

  • Turn off unneeded Windows features(Vista)*

This one is self-explanatory. Do you need Tablet PC components installed? Probably not, unless you are using a Tablet PC. So turn off whatever you don?t need in the name of keeping your Windows install as lean as possible.

Click Start, Control Panel, then under Programs at the bottom click ?Uninstall a Program.? In the left-hand pane you?ll see ?Turn Windows Features on or off.? Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing. Uncheck whatever you don?t need.

  • Improving Boot Times (XP)*

Microsoft claims that Windows XP and above came with a tiny integrated program that automatically optimized boot times, and claimed their other boot optimizing software, Bootvis, useless. However, XP's integrated program doesn't work too well, especially when the boot times are upped to 2 minutes. Bootvis, even though not well known among most of us today, actually does make a difference, believe it or not. This section will show you how to use Bootvis properly and use it to its full potential.

First, download Bootvis and install it as normal. Then run it. Go to the Trace menu, click "Next boot and driver delays," and reboot. When Bootvis loads again, go to the Trace menu and select "Optimize." Reboot again. Bootvis will reanalyze your boot procedure and times, then optimize them.

By using Bootvis on three of my computers - a Macbook with Boot Camp, a desktop, and an 8 year old Thinkpad, I managed to decrease boot load times on all three. Here are my results:

  • Macbook*

Previous boot time: 35 seconds New boot time: 23 seconds

  • Desktop*

Previous boot time: 1 minute and 1 second New boot time: 8 seconds

  • Thinkpad*

Previous boot time: 47 seconds New boot time: 32 seconds

        • ADVANCED USERS ONLY*****

Analyzing the Bootvis results will also lead you to improve boot times even more. On most PCs, the large amount of drivers and the time it takes to load them results in long boot times. You can uninstall hardware and its drivers if you don't need them, and speed up boot times even further. Make sure you know how to maintain PC hardware properly and how to properly uninstall hardware drivers.

  • The Internet*

Ah yes, the wonder of the world (of technology lol) that inspired many and opened up many opportunities. But here are some tips you probably never knew.

  • Subtopics*
  • The Secret Behind IE6 And Above
  • Speeding Up Your Internet Experience
  • A Comparison Of The Most Popular Browsers*
  • The Secret Behind IE6 and Above*

Never knew, huh? That IE6 and possibly IE7 are actually INCLUDED with SPYWARE THEMSELVES? Microsoft contradicts themselves quite a lot. Going more into detail, IE6, as I know, was included with the Alexa plugin, which came with it. Now the Alexa plugin is a hidden plugin that my friends never knew existed. It tracks your actions online and sends you advertisements based on what you look at. The plugin can sometimes receive personal information, which is BAD. To get rid of it, you can either get the trial of TuneUp Utilities and disable the plugin from that program, or get a trial of ZoneAlarm Security Suite and scan with the spyware tool, as I know that it detects Alexa.

  • Speeding Up Your Internet Experience*

There are many ways to speed up the Internet - the worst is through the registry. However, for all you Firefox users, youve come in luck - the FasterFox plugin increases the number of connections made to web servers to increase the bandwidth transmitted. By using Fasterfox, I could load up the main Apple website 2 times faster than regular. You can also use TuneUp Utilities to optimize your Internet connection with a few simple clicks.

  • A Comparison Of The Most Popular Browsers*

All of these browsers, compared with each other. Its ultimately your choice on what browser you want to use. What i do highly recommend is Firefox because it is safe, you can tweak it, plus many cool skins, but there are others too. Its all up to you. Now here is a comparison of a couple of them.

  • Internet Explorer 7*

I actually found it alright, but not what I expected. The new interface looked terrible, well maybe good thing is the tabbing, but thats in Firefox too, and web page load times were still the same as IE6. Security was still filled with bypasses and flaws, but Anti-Phishing is a nice addition. I'm a bit suspicious about this browser, as IE6 was included with the Alexa plugin, considered spyware, and it could be included here too. The application load times were good, ranging from 1 to 3 seconds.

  • Mozilla Firefox*

My favorite pick. It's secure, and versatile with the many plugins available, such as IE Tab, ForcastFox, Fasterfox, etc. Anti-Phishing is also on here. What I don't like about Firefox is that some websites are screwed up by Firefox, ex. Xanga and Googlepages. Plus it has many skins you can add to make it look cool! It also loads slowly, tests ranging in around 5 seconds. However, this is my favorite. Here's something for broadband people that will really speed Firefox up:

1.Type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining network.http.pipelining.maxrequests Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

2. Alter the entries as follows Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true" Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true" Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 8. This means it will make 8 requests at once.

3. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives. If you're using a broadband connection you'll load pages MUCH faster now! :D

  • Opera*

Runner-up to Firefox, in my opinion. It doesn't have Anti-Phishing, however, it loads faster than Firefox, and web page load times are pretty close to Firefox.

  • Safari*

It sorta fails on Windows - I'd tell Steve Jobs to stick to Macs instead of focusing on Windows. App load times were faster than Opera or Firefox, but page loading times were slower than the two. There is no anti-phishing and the pop-up blocker isn't too effective - a few pop-up tests I conducted failed. Pretty much built more for looks than performance, imo.

  • Excellent Free Programs That Protect Your Computer*
  • Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free*

The highest-rated and free antispyware program as stated from a PC World survey (and my personal favorite), Ad-Aware is the best choice for the average user. I would use this until 2007 is better before for now Lavasoft 2007 has horrible ratings and from what i heard updates are slow, and some other bugs.

*Avast Anti-Virus Home Edition*

My favorite anti-virus program in the free market, Avast provides many features programs like Norton or Kaspersky have, for a free price. Avast has 7 different real-time shields for different functions, such as E-mail. The only hassle is that the shields drain quite a bit of memory, and you have to sign up for a free yearly subscription, which, even though is free, is annoying.

  • Spybot Search And Destroy*

The runner-up to Ad-Aware, the improvement to 1.4 is impressive. In a comparison I made a few weeks back, I had Spybot 1.2 and that didn't detect much. However, Spybot 1.4 made many improvements - it detected more than 3 times the spyware it detected in 1.2. However, scan speeds took much longer than in 1.2, so that's a small turndown. However, this is a good program to use along with Ad-Aware.

  • ZoneAlarm Basic Firewall*

Loads better than that Windows Firewall crap. ZoneAlarm protects both incoming and outgoing Internet traffic, and has saved me from a few extreme situations Windows Firewall wouldnt have saved me from, such as an invasion of my computer through IE. However, it drains at least 30 MB of memory solely for the engine, and not to mention the firewall itself. Its a good deal, however.

  • Cyberhawk Basic*

An excellent program that scans real-time for suspicious changes and actions. However, since most of you play MS, I recommend that you dont install it on the PC that you play MS on, since it blocks GameGuard. It is a good addition to your arsenal of protection programs, however. Just dont install it on the computer that you play MS on.

  • AVG Antivirus (Free Version)*

My runner-up to Avast Antivirus. It drains less memory from the computer, but I don't like how it runs its background scans. Even if you select "Low Memory Usage," your PC will lag just as much. Also, scans take a long time, around 1 and a half hours average on my PC. I also don't like its real-time protection, as many viruses got through it. However, it does get its job done well.

  • Superantispyware FREE*

This is one of the top Antispyware now in modern times. It has an excellent scanning system, gets rid of the malaware, tracking cookie etc, it provides a registry scan too. It also has one of the highest detection rates for a free Antispyware program.

    • NOTE: Do NOT run 2 or more antivirus programs, antispyware programs, or firewalls at the same time. They will just conflict, and your PC will start to crash from them.*
  • Why Not To Go With Windows Firewall*

Believe it or not, Windows Firewall is a horrible firewall. If youd ever call it a firewall. It only monitors outgoing traffic, and hardly notifies you whenever a program asks for permission. Personally, Windows Firewall has forced me to reformat a computer a few times, due to its lousy protection. I recommend getting ZoneAlarm Firewall to make up for this crap of a firewall.

  • Why Go With Windows Firewall*

"I believe there are a lot of incorrect assumptions and outright myths about outbound filtering. I really like the Firewall in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). It is lightweight, centrally manageable, does the job well, is unobtrusive, and does something very critical: it protects the system at boot. That last one is crucial; we have seen many systems in the past get infected during boot even with a firewall turned on. Any outbound host-based firewall filtering in Windows XP is really just meaningless as a security feature in my opinion. True, it stops some malware, today, but only because current malware has not been written to circumvent it. There simply are not enough environments that implement outbound rules for the mass market malware authors to need to worry about it. In an interactive attack the attacker can circumvent outbound filters at will. To see how, consider this. Circumventing outbound host-based firewall filters can be accomplished in several ways, depending on the scenario of the actual attack. First, the vast majority of Windows XP users run as administrators, and any malware running as an administrator can disable the firewall entirely. Of course, even if the outbound filter requires interaction from the user to open a port, the malware can cause the user to be presented with a sufficiently enticing and comprehensible dialog, that explains that without clicking "Yes" they will not ever get to see the "dancing pigs". See, the problem is that when the user is running as an administrator, or the evil code runs as an administrator, there is a very good chance that either the user or the code will simply disable the protection. Of course, the user does not really see that dialog, because it is utterly meaningless to users. That is problem number one with outbound filtering. Given the choice between security and sufficiently enticing rewards, like "dancing pigs", the "dancing pigs" will win every time. If the malware can either directly or indirectly turn off the protection, it will do so. The second problem is that even if the user, for some inexplicable reason clicked "No. Bug me again" or if the evil code is running in using a low-privileged account, such as Network Service, the malware can easily step right around the firewall other ways. As long as the account the code is running as can open outbound connections on any port the evil code can simply use that port. Ah, but outbound Firewalls can limit outbound traffic on a particular port to specific process. Not a problem, we just piggy back on an existing process that is allowed. Only if the recipient of the traffic filters based on both source and destination port, and extremely few services do that, is this technique for bypassing the firewall meaningful. The key problem is that most people think outbound host-based firewall filtering will keep a compromised asset from attacking other assets. This is impossible. Putting protective measures on a compromised asset and asking it not to compromise any other assets simply does not work. Protection belongs on the asset you are trying to protect, not the one you are trying to protect against! Asking the bad guys not to steal stuff after they have already broken into your house is unlikely to be nearly as effective as keeping them from breaking into the house in the first place."

  • The Proper Way of Removing Spyware and Viruses*

Always boot up in Safe Mode and disconnect from the Internet. If you have scanned over and over and deleted the same thing over and over again, but it keeps coming back, that is the reason why it keeps popping up in your scan results - it automatically redownloads and reinstalls itself through code that triggers a secret Autorun program that performs the reinstallation and crap. Safe Mode disables all startup entries and only starts up vital Windows processes, so these programs won't get the chance to launch on startup. After that, run spyware and virus scans, and delete them as normal. Reboot normally and reconnect to the Internet, and scan again. Nothing should pop up now.

Several PC Problems You Will Encounter

  • The computer wont boot*

First, check to see that all cables are in all the way, especially the video and the power cords. Then see if the lights on the computer turn on. If they turn on, it should only be a loose video cord, a broken video card or monitor, or the video card was not installed properly. It could also be a BIOS problem. If so, jump to the BIOS step. If they don't turn on, check your power supply. Try to see whether the power supply fan starts to spin. If it does, go back to the last step. If not, you have a power supply problem. Replace it. As stated in step 2, the BIOS might not be working. Rub your hands over metal to discharge any static, unplug all cables, and open up your PC case. Look for the CMOS battery, which is a small, circular, and silver battery near the CMOS jumpers. Its best that you look over a motherboard manual to find the CMOS jumpers. There are 2 methods to resetting - set the jumpers to another position for 30 seconds, or taking out the battery. Be careful around the jumpers, since they're easy to lose, and if you lose them, you're screwed. For example, on my motherboard, the jumpers are set on 1-2, and there are pins in the order of 1-2-3. Remember that the position of your jumper now is the default. Place the jumper into the order of 2-3, wait 30 seconds, and move it back to 1-2. If jumpers aren't available, refer to the CMOS battery. Unplug it for approximately 5 minutes, than plug it back in. Then set up the default settings, such as dates and stuff.

Now if the case is that it freezes all the time at the boot screen, try booting into Safe Mode. If that works, the partition has a problem, and you will need to repair the OS with your Windows CD. If both crash, you might have to reformat your computer.

- You are connected, but the Internet does not load It happens once in a while. Try resetting your DSL/cable modem and router, if you have one. If that doesn't work, move on. Check for loose cables, and reconnect them in case. Try using another computer to test the Internet. If that one works, your computer has a problem, and it can easily be resolved by opening Command Prompt (type CMD in Run/Seach Prompt) and then type in ipconfig /renew. If this doesn't work or if the other computer does not, then move on. If you're behind a router, perform factory resets on your modem and router - make sure you know what your ISP password and username are. Set them up again, and they should now work flawlessly.

-You're being assaulted with loads of pop-ups. Scan your system with antispyware/antivirus

-Your PC is just running plain slower than usual. Check how much hard drive space you have. Usually, when you have less than 15% remaining, your computer will lag more due to less virtual memory space. If you have a clean hard drive, try defragmenting. If these don't work, scan for viruses and spyware, and then clean out your registry, and defrag it if possible. Also, uninstall anything that you don't need anymore. You'll have to move on to more drastic measures if the above don't work, such as replacing hard drive cables and updating your BIOS. Also, try replacing the hard drive, as those slow down after a period of time. At worst, sometimes a reformat will speed it back up again, and that will tell you that you downloaded some crap. If these don't work, your computer has just aged, and is running slower than usual. Thats natural, and all you have to do is replace your PC.

  • Forgot your password?*

Easy - boot up in Safe Mode, log onto the Administrator account that should appear in the login screen, and reset your password. Usually that account has no password. Now if you set a password for your BIOS, reset your CMOS, as demonstrated in the My PC wont boot section. Also, try finding a trustworthy password reseter or cracker, such as Ophcrack. Otherwise, youre screwed big time, and will have to resort to a reformat.

  • Reformatting*

How to reformat, posted here for easier access. I sometimes find it annoying to click links to go to other websites, like Mindstormer's thread, especially with a slow browser and ISP problems. THIS SECTION WAS MADE IN REAL-TIME AS I REFORMATTED MY COUSIN'S MESSED UP COMPUTER, RUNNING WINDOWS XP. But I think Vista should be similar. Before Your Reformat Reformatting should be used [b]ONLY AS A LAST RESORT[/b]. Mostly, people think about reformatting because their PCs are messed up. Follow this procedure to make sure whether you need a reformat or not:

  • Are all cables in correctly?
  • Do you have suspicious programs you should uninstall?
  • Did you Google up your problem for solutions?
  • Did you ask any friends experienced with computers about your problem?
  • Did you run virus and spyware scans in SAFE MODE?
  • Is your hardware and are your hardware drivers corrupted?
  • Did you perform CLEAN reinstallations (completely uninstalling, restarting, clearing the Registry, then installing again) of your drivers?
  • Did you perform System Restore to the day before your problems began, and did the problem disappear after that?
  • If you bought your PC, does your PC manufacturer provide PC recovery software on their website? If so, have you used it correctly?*

If you followed all these guidelines and your problem persists, you're in need for a reformat. KEEP IN MIND THAT WINDOWS RECOVERY CDS ARE NOT INSTALLED LIKE THIS.

FIND OUT WHAT YOUR WINDOWS INSTALLATION KEY IS. You're screwed without it. It should be on your PC case (if you bought the PC) or on your installation CD (if you bought Windows for a self-built PC) Search for the drivers for your hardware - Network card drivers are most important; in the case you can't find other drivers, the Network card driver will enable you to search the Internet for them. It saved my butt a couple times before. Back up ONLY what you NEED - work files, records, stuff like that. Don't even think of trying to back up MapleStory - that's kinda dumb... no, REALLY dumb. Get a flash drive, with at least 128 MB or higher, as drivers can be large - all my drivers total 100 MB. Back up all your drivers and necessary files onto the drive. Burning files onto a CD is also acceptable, but slower and less efficient. Now if you have a secondary hard drive, I recommend you store your music, videos, and then drivers and only programs you NEED. Double-check to make sure everything you need is on your flash drive/CD, then say goodbye to your computer for what it is now. Get out your installation CD, restart your computer, and boot up from the CD (hit the key if specified, commonly F11 or F12, otherwise at "Press any key to boot from CD" just press any key).

  • The Proper Procedure*

NOTE: This procedure is also used for installing fresh copies of Windows. If you are installing Windows on a brand new PC you just built, ignore steps 2 and 3.*

Step 1 Boot up from the CD, then on the main screen, hit Enter. DO NOT HIT R, AS THIS LEADS TO A RECOVERY CONSOLE INSTEAD. It's very confusing - much like running DOS back in the 80's. *shiver*

Step 2: Agree to the terms and crap like that. After that, you'll be prompted to repair your partitions. This does not work all the time, even though all programs and drivers are retained. Even worse, most of the programs won't work because the Registry values for those programs are erased during the repair. So hit Esc, then select your partition (usually there is only 1, unless you set up 2 partitions to run 2 OSes) and hit D.

Step 3: Confirm the partition deletion, then back at the Partition menu, select "Unpartitioned space" and hit Enter.

Step 4]: Select between the NTFS and FAT file systems. Here is a short comparison of the two:

  • FAT: More compatible with other operating systems (Windows 95/98, for example), but does not have file security features and has horrible space management. Also limits the maximum space on a partition to about 4 GB, I believe.
  • NTFS: It's not compatible with some operating systems, but it is more secure and allows for secure file compression, and is better at managing space.

Then again, I highly recommend NTFS. Who the heck (other than me and those conducting research) uses Windows 95, and Linux? I mean, come on. xD

Step 5: Wait for the unpartitioned space to finish creating a partition, and wait for the installation files to be installed. The PC will reboot automatically in 15 seconds, and direct you to the Windows installation, which takes approximately 35 minutes.

Step 6: In the middle of the installation, you will be asked to provide your name and company. Fill them out, then type in your Windows key. Afterwards, you will be prompted to set a computer name. I recommend you leave it, especially if you're reformatting a PC in a company office, but if you really want to, type in a new name under 15 characters. Set the time and date and your time zone, and continue on, where you will be prompted for a Network settings installation. I recommend selecting "Typical" unless you are an advanced PC user and need something else.

Step 7: Wait for the installation to complete. Once it finishes, no more wait. Yay.

  • Recovering Your Now Lost Files*

All your drivers, files, programs, and stuff will be gone. Now Windows will boot up for the "first" time, and automatically adjust your display resolution. Enter any accounts you want to create. They will automatically be Admins, but you can always change them to Limited accounts. Log into your "new" account. You're not done yet. However, on a happy note, you just got through the hard part. Grab your flash drive/backup CD and reinstall all your drivers. After that, restore all your important files onto your PC, then reinstall your programs. Just be careful on what you install, though, 'cause I don't think you'll want to go through this again.

  • Mac Talk*
  • Topics*

-The Pros and Cons of Macs Over Windows -Reviews -Boot Camp -Viewing HTTP mail in Apple's Mail application*

The Pros and Cons of Macs Over Windows

  • Pros*
  • Much less viruses and almost no spyware
  • More elegant UI
  • Runs both Mac AND Windows
  • Included with software you'd have to purchase for a brand new PC
  • Hardly crashes
  • Much more efficient memory management
  • On a reformat, all your drivers are included in the Installation CD, while on a PC, you have to search over the Web or over lots of CDs
  • Up to a 4 way video chat
  • Takes advantage of video cards for its UI elegance
  • Much better at handling unresponsive programs
  • Most installations only require drag and dropping
  • Quick at finding files and folders
  • Excellent at processing graphics (UI graphical features like window minimizing/maximizing, Expose, and HD Video playback are flawless)
  • Software Update prevents you from visiting many other websites to obtain updates for your hardware
  • Cons*
  • It will be a bit rough for Windows experts to run their first Macs for a while
  • Hard to self-troubleshoot the hardware itself (ex. taking apart the Mac)
  • Not many compatible programs
  • Short warranties
  • Dual-booting is still in beta
  • The UI is confusing at first
  • SOMETIMES more expensive than a PC with the same stats
  • Boot Camp*
  • Subtopics*
  • Installing it
  • Windows functions on a Mac
  • The bugs you will come across

Installing it

  • The requirements include*
  • Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later
  • The latest firmware updates for your Mac
  • At least 10 GB of free hard drive space
  • A Mac with an Intel processor
  • A blank CD or DVD
  • This guide to save some paper from printing out the instructions as directed on the main Boot Camp website Environment ftw.
  • A full version of Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2, WIndows Vista Home Basic/Premium, Business, or Ultimate. (No upgrade or multi-disc versions)

After fulfilling the requirements above, download the beta and run the installer. It will automatically burn a CD with all your needed drivers for Windows, including keyboard, trackpad, iSight, and more drivers. You will be allowed to select the size of your Windows partition. I recommend at least 10 GB for the partition, maybe 20 GB if you have the space. After the partition is installed, insert your Windows Installation CD and your Mac should automatically boot up the CD. Refer to the "Reformatting" section on how to install a fresh copy of Windows. After Windows is installed, at the gray screen before the Apple logo pops up, hold down your Alt key and when two hard drives pop up, select the Windows drive and let it boot up. After logging in, insert the CD that Boot Camp burned, and it will install the drivers for everything in the Mac.

  • Windows functions on a Mac*
  • Right click: Two fingers on the trackpad and a click.
  • Volume and Brightness - Hit Fn and the Volume and Brightness keys.
  • Eject - the Eject button on your keyboard
  • Windows Key - The Apple Key

The bugs you will come across Keep in mind that I run Boot Camp 1.1.2, so these might not pop up. Anyways...

  • Blue screens whenever you run a game (defragment to get rid of them)
  • If you hit the Fn key and use the volume controls as normal, the Volume panel won't disappear, even when clicking on your desktop.
  • The Eject key might not work at times.
  • XP repeatedly asks for confirmation of installing the Apple Keyboard driver after you exit MS, and possibly other games.
  • The keyboard driver is not detected, and then automatically uninstalled at times.
  • Viewing HTTP mail in Apple's Mail application*

As you know, Mail only includes POP, IMAP, Exchange, and .Mac mail accounts. However, you can use Hotmail and other HTTP mail clients with the Mail app by simply downloading the HTTPMail plugin. After installing the plugin, create a new account in Mail. Set the Account Type as httpmail. Name the description however you want it. Fill out your entire E-mail address, with the or the, in the specified box. Fill out your name in the Full Name box. After that, set the "Incoming Mail Server" to On User Name, type down your account username without the and likewise, then enter your password. After that, confirm your options and then create your new account.

  • Download Section*
  • Tweaking* TweakUI Tune-Up Utilities [not free] Diskeeper TweakNow RegcCleane Bootvis

  • Protection* Ad-Aware Avast Superantispyware Spybot-Search And Destroy Zone Alarm Firewall Cyberhawk AVG-Antivirus

  • Recovery* Ophcrack

  • Mac* Bootcamp HTTPMail Plugin

  • Others* PaintNet (like photoshop) Gimp(like photoshop) Open Office (Free Alternative to Microsoft Office) Itunes/ Quicktime Windows Media Player 11 Windows XP Registry Repair Youtube downloader (Works Great, I use it myself) Imageshack (To Host Images) PC Keeper (All-in-one PC Maintenance) Windows 7 Tweaks

  • Browsers* Firefox Internet Explorer 7 Opera Maxthon Safari Flock

  • Credits*

This document was originally created by lilxkid24

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