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30 quick fixes for Windows XP & Vista

Fast fixes for Windows users

Analyse Your System Security

Problem: I'm not certain how secure my system is, but the last thing I want to do is pay some high-priced consultant to test it for me

Fast Fix: Download the free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) and let the program perform a security check of your computer. The tool's reports include links to descriptions of the scan, details of the results, and ways to correct any problems it finds. MBSA works with any version of Windows from 2000 SP3 on, though Vista requires the 2.1 beta; MBSA also analyses the security of Office, Exchange, and other Microsoft products. Download either the current version 2.0.1 or the beta 2.1 release. After installing the program, launch it and follow the prompts to analyze your own system or multiple computers.

Stay Safe: Back Up by Bot

Problem: I know that backing up can save my hide--but I keep forgetting to do it

Fast Fix: The backup tools built into many editions of Windows XP and Vista let you schedule and perform automatic backups. Unfortunately, only XP Pro and Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate include these tools by default. XP Home users, however, will find a backup program on their Windows CD: navigate in Explorer to the valueadd\msft\ntbackup folder, right-click the Ntbackup file, and choose Install.

If you use Vista Home Premium, you'll have to find a backup program elsewhere; go to the 'Make Image Backups' section of 'Give Home Premium Vista Ultimate Features' for more on backing up Home Premium.
In XP, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. If it's already set to start in Advanced mode, choose Tools, Switch to Wizard Mode. Step through the wizard, specifying what to back up and where. At the 'Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard' screen, click Advanced. Specify the type of backup (such as Incremental, which is good for regular, automated backups) and click Next. Set other options on the subsequent screens, and click Next for each.

At 'When to Back up,' check Later, type a name for the backup, and then click Set Schedule. Use the settings listed under the Schedule and Settings tabs in the Schedule Job dialog box to customise when and how often to back up, and click OK. Enter your log-in name and password twice, and then click OK again. Click Next, enter your password two more times, and click OK and Finish. If you need to modify the backup schedule, reopen Scheduled Tasks and double-click the icon for the backup job.

In Vista, choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup Status and Configuration. Click Set up automatic file backup and confirm at the User Account Control prompt. Follow the prompts to set what, where, and when to back up (see the image here). To make changes later on, return to this utility and click Change backup settings or Turn off to modify or disable your backup bot.

Stifle Shadow Copies' wastefulness

Use Windows’ speed tweakers

Sort out your internet connection

Automate disk cleaning

Manage files from your right-click menu

Analyse your PC's security

Automate your backup

Patch your apps & OS

Solve sluggish web surfing

Make Windows defrag for you

Turn off Auto play

Use keys to start Quick Launch items

Shut down instantly

Use dual operating systems

Our favourite fix-it freebies

Speed up your startups


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