Down and Dirty System Tune-Up
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Thread: Down and Dirty System Tune-Up

  1. #1
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    Down and Dirty System Clean-Up

    Down and Dirty System Clean-Up:

    So all of a sudden you windows computer is starting to run slower than normal, you are getting more pop-ups then usual, and programs aren’t working the way they should. Don’t worry; it’s not the end of the world. The following is a down and dirty guide to first cleaning your computer of all the garbage that is slowing it down, and then keeping it clean.

    Before we start talking about how to get your system back up and running like the beast it is, we should discuss what could be causing the problem to begin with. Today’s internet is filled with tons of garbage, it’s sad but true.

    Two of the most common reasons for sudden computer slow downs are vicious types of hidden software called adware and spyware. Both are usually installed under false pretences claiming to be these great pieces of software that will speed up your internet connections, give you free games, or pretty screen savers. And while they may do some of the stuff they claim, they also send back information about you, your computer, and your internet browsing habits back to its creator (or more likely the person who paid the creator) and they use this information to trigger pop-ups on your computer, and in some cases get your email address to send SPAM to.

    Aside from these two types of hidden software there is the world of viruses that we must discuss. Viruses come in a wide variety of types and can do many things (almost none of which is good). Viruses are defined as any software that can replicate it self and spread through out your system or to another system. Viruses have functions that range from sending out SPAM, collecting email addresses from you address book to aid in spamming, turning you computer in to a “zombie” (a computer that is remotely controlled by the attacker to aid in Distributed Denial of Service Attacks), turning your computer into a proxy for a hacker to route his traffic through in order to protect his/her identity, and data loss among many other things.

    Now that we know the 3 most common software threats on the internet you may be asking “How do I get rid of this stuff?” well the solution is much simpler than computer shops want you to think. There are a wide variety of tools available for free on the internet to help you with removal of this type of problem. I like to refer to the following as the Holy Trinity of the computer world.

    Adaware – made by a company called Lavasoft, adaware is one of the most popular and most successful programs I have come across on the internet for removing adware and spyware from your computer. The home edition is available for free download from http://www.lavasoftusa.com/ download the latest version of this software and get the latest definition updates.

    Stinger – made by McAfee, stinger is a stand alone virus scanner that scans for about 50 of the most widespread (not necessarily the most recent) viruses out there. It saves a convenient log of what it found so you know exactly what was going wrong. Stinger can be downloaded from http://vil.nai.com/vil/averttools.asp

    House Call – a web based virus scanner that is about as up to date as you can ask for. Now with a vulnerability scanner as well as a scanner for Spyware/Adware added this has gone from being a better than average virus scanner to an extremely powerful tool. It can be accessed at http://housecall.trendmicro.com

    Once you have downloaded you tools and have updated them, restart your computer into safemode. This is usually done by tapping the f8 key on your keyboard right after the computer begins to start up. Starting in safemode is strongly encouraged because while in safemode the computer only starts essential services, and loads essential drivers. If a file is in use it sometimes cannot be scanned and even when it is scanned it cannot be removed. So safemode accesses the fewest files needed to get the computer going. Run your scanners in safemode, and delete everything they detect (unless you know that it is a legitimate program, sometimes false positives do occur) chances are you will find a handful of stuff even if you think your computer is clean. After you have run the offline scanners you may want to reboot your computer connect to the internet and run Housecall"s scanner. After this is done the basic scans of your computer have been completed. If you feel the need you can repeat the previous steps as many times as you want until you feel your system is clean (I normally go through two times, just to be sure, with a reboot after the first time around)

    So now your computer is Clean, so let’s keep it that way. The most important thing you can do to keep your computer clean, is educate yourself. Be careful of the sights you visit, remember the saying “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” and don’t download software from untrusted sites. Even if the software seems harmless it can cause a great deal of damage. Secondly, get an antivirus program installed on your computer; many good products can be purchased from a computer store including Symantec’s anti-virus and McAfee to just name two of the bigger ones. Or you can opt to download a free anti-virus like AVG (available at http://www.grisoft.com/)

    You may also want to install a firewall on your computer. A firewall is another layer of protection between your computer and the internet. Firewalls come in both software and hardware form, and when configured correctly are very effective in protecting your computer. Sygate is a free software firewall and can be downloaded from http://smb.sygate.com/products/spf_standard.htm but like I said before you must keep this software updated and configured correctly. Do not “allow all connections” or you are just wasting system resources. Take the time to configure the firewall correctly and it will pay off.
    Now all the software in the world can’t protect you if you don’t take the basic steps of patching your operating system. Windows provides a nice little program called “automatic update” USE IT. It will keep your computer up to date with the latest OS patches and help in keeping your computer a bit safer on the internet. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep all of your software up to date with the latest security patches. The companies have only a handful of programmers creating the software and have THOUSANDS trying to break it. Holes will be found, so it is your responsibility to patch them.

    So now your computer is clean of Malware, and is protected, but still running slow. Well we are not done yet. The first thing you want to do is open up your event viewer and take a look to see if any errors are occurring, these are going to be your best hints at what is causing a problem, possibly a conflict between two pieces of software, or just a program not running correctly. Also, run your disk cleanup tool and clean out your temp files and cache. Run you disk defragmenter to keep all of your data well organized and readily accessible on your hard drive. These tools can be found in you system tools folder (start -> all programs -> accessories -> system tools) and will help increase the life of your computer as well as keep its performance up to par.

    And if you are still having problems we have one more place we can look before you should think about seeing a professional. Look in our system information (start -> all programs -> accessories -> system tools -> system information) and look under the hardware resources section for any conflicts in hardware. If you locate any conflicts there is a good chance they are causing your problems. Take the necessary steps to correct the problems. (Things like making sure you have the most up to date drivers for all components help a lot)


    Other Helpful Links
    • Sysinternals - www.sysinternals.com - provides a variety of free system tools to help you monitor/fix system problems.

    • Google - www.google.com - if you find something and don’t know what it is, Google it, I’m sure you’ll find an answer there.

    • Symantec - http://securityresponse.symantec.com/ - latest virus news including new viruses and there danger levels.

    • HiJackThis! - http://www.hijackthis.de/ - HiJackThis is a very powerful regisrty editing tool used to detect unwanted registry keys, do not use this tool unless you are familiar with your computers registry, and even then plase makea backup of all keys you delete/change so if something does go wrong you can fix it.


    Note** All information is based on a Windows XP professional operating system. Although most of it will transfer to the other Windows Operating systems, the paths as well as included system tools may be wrong/unabailable. Inthis case some changes may be needed to accomidate your situation, but the basic principles stay the same. I am not responsible for any dmaage done to systems in which this guide is used to repair. Nor am I responsible for any wanted or unwanted results that these programs may give.
    Everyone is going to die, I am just as good of a reason as any.

    http://think-smarter.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    I'd say thats an okay start. Virus's should be covered but "Malware" could still remain. I'd add at least a few more tools in there.

  3. #3
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    I'd say thats an okay start. Virus's should be covered but "Malware" could still remain. I'd add at least a few more tools in there.
    this is supposed to eb a "quick" type of guide. Its for people who arent all that great with computers, and are having trouble. I didnt want to include a bunch of other tools that would either complicate or confuse the main issue. There are many other tools available, but to list them would be like trying to list flavors of ice cream. Everyone has their favorites, so I listed mine. The tools are just added as a help, the main point I was trying to get to was what they are looking for and a general idea on how to get rid of it.
    Everyone is going to die, I am just as good of a reason as any.

    http://think-smarter.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    King Arana: Super Moderator
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    That's a nice tutorial (for a quick one), although the title seems a tad misleading IMO. Your tutorial covered adware/malware and how to eliminate it, etc. A system tune up includes MUCH more than that, that is merely one factor out of many that can slow a system down.

    Just my thoughts, nice tutorial regardless..
    Space For Rent.. =]

  5. #5
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    A system tune up includes MUCH more than that, that is merely one factor out of many that can slow a system down.
    which is why I included the checking for software/hardware conflicts, running utilities such as defrag and disk clean up. Probably should have added check disk though. I agree there is more to it, but for most home users, this will be about as far as they are capable of going without seriously risking the useablitly of their computer.

    But I did change the name, now its system clean up rather than tune up. It does make more since sine thereis an obvious focus on malware.
    Everyone is going to die, I am just as good of a reason as any.

    http://think-smarter.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    There is a type error in link http://housecalll.trendmicro.com/ the correct one is

    http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
    Excuse me, is there an airport nearby large enough for a private jet to land?

  7. #7
    The Doctor Und3ertak3r's Avatar
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    Stinger – made by McAfee, stinger is a stand alone virus scanner that scans for about 50 of the most widespread (not necessarily the most recent) viruses out there. It saves a convenient log of what it found so you know exactly what was going wrong. Stinger can be downloaded from http://vil.nai.com/vil/averttools.asp
    Not to be too picky.. Stinger is a dead issue.. not updated since May.. Preference is now for Trends Sysclean
    D/L from this page: http://www.trendmicro.com/download/dcs.asp
    Oh and you need the Definitions to do any good that is the LPTxxx: http://www.trendmicro.com/download/pattern.asp

    handy..
    "Consumer technology now exceeds the average persons ability to comprehend how to use it..give up hope of them being able to understand how it works." - Me http://www.cybercrypt.co.nr

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