Patch Your Apps and OS Together
Problem: I always grab the latest Windows security patches, but I sometimes neglect the other programs that pose a security risk when they're not kept up-to-date
Fast Fix: To test the security of your applications, use the free online Secunia Software Inspector. You don't need to install anything; simply click Start and follow the instructions. The scan requires the Sun Java JRE version 1.5.0_12 or later. It works with Windows 2000 SP4 and later.
The analysis identifies applications that are outdated. Click the plus sign next to an entry for more details, and for links to the latest version.
To ensure backward-compatibility, many applications leave old versions on your disk when installing updates, so back up your PC before you begin deleting or uninstalling older versions of any applications.
Solve Sluggish Surfing
Problem: My Web browsing is slow and sometimes stops altogether
Fast Fix 1: If surfing is less responsive or impossible, your PC may have caught an infection. Use an antivirus utility or a repair tool to check for problems. Or try Microsoft's free Malicious Software Removal Tool; just download the applet and follow the instructions.
Fast Fix 2: Install a new version of your browser, or patch your current one. To obtain the latest version of IE 7, choose Tools, Windows Update. In Mozilla Firefox, click Help, Check for Updates.
Fast Fix 3: You may have an issue with browser plug-ins or add-ons. To test this, disable all add-ons. If the problem goes away, enable one add-on and test again. Repeat until you find the culprit.
To disable add-ons in Firefox, choose Tools, Add-ons, and click Disable by each item until all are off. Close the window and restart Firefox. If the problem is solved, reopen the Add-ons window, click Enable for one entry, close, and restart. Rinse and repeat as needed.
In IE 7, choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Internet Explorer (No Add-ons). If that solves the problem, restart IE normally and choose Tools, Manage Add-ons, Enable or Disable Add-ons. Pick an add-on and click Disable. Repeat this for all but one, and click OK twice. Restart IE. If everything is still fine, return to this dialog box, select another disabled add-on, and click Enable. Click OK twice and restart IE. Repeat until you find the misbehaving add-on.
Make Windows Defrag for You
Problem: While there's some debate on the matter, expert consensus says that defragmenting a hard drive improves its performance and reduces the likelihood of problems. But as with any PC housekeeping chore, finding the time to defrag my disks is getting tougher and tougher
Fast Fix: Make Windows do the disk-defragmenting. In XP, follow the same steps as in Automate Your Disk Checking to create a Scheduled Task, but when editing the command line in Advanced Properties, change it to cmd.exe /c defrag c: -f -v > "c:\doc\report.txt" (your switches and the path to your report file may be different).
In Vista, follow the same steps as in 'Automate Your Disk Checking', but change the text in the 'Add arguments (optional)' box to /c defrag -c -f -v -w > "c:\doc\report.txt" (your switches and report path may differ).