– Before doing anything install an Anti-Virus program, if you are on a budget you can install the free version of Microsoft Security Essentials (this is a really great program, at the time of writing this document it is actually one of the top 3 reviews by www.maximumpc.com). I personally use and recommend Norton Anti-Virus, Norton Internet Security 2009 or newer. The older versions of Norton are not very good as they leave a heavy footprint on the operating system (meaning the older versions used to make your computer run slower).
– Confirm if you have the latest Service Pack for Windows XP, depending on the installation media you may have an older Service Pack. At the time of writing this document the following service packs were available: SP1, SP2 and SP3
– I use the following programs: (there are many more programs out there but these are the ones I prefer)
- CCleaner (system clean-up tool, temp files, registry, etc)
- 7 Zip (compression/decompression tool, 32 and 64 bit versions)
- Firefox (I use the following add-ons: fireftp, xmarks)
- Winamp (multimedia tool, music, video, etc)
- CPU-Z, GPU-Z and Speecy (system information tools: CPU, RAM, HDD, GRAPHICS)
- OpenOffice (free Office tools, if a person can’t afford Microsoft Office this is a great alternative)
- Thunderbird (great email client and its free! Alternative to Outlook Express)
– After installing all of the above programs and system updates you should run CCleaner to remove and registry issues and temporary files. CCleaner also allows you to control which start-up programs you want enabled or disabled on boot. Alternatively you can use the “msconfig” command but I do not recommend this unless you know what you are doing (you can really mess up a system by turning off the wrong service). Things you should turn off:
- Any third party program, HP imaging device, Apple’s iPhone helper, QuickTime, Adobe Speed Launcher, etc. The reason you want to turn these programs off is because you aren’t accessing/using them all at once. For example, if you want to Skype open it from the All Programs list. By removing these from the start-up you will save much needed system resources which allows your computer to run much faster. A user should only use what they need, eliminate what they don’t.