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30 quick fixes for Windows XP & Vista

Fast fixes for Windows users

Turn Off Autoplay

Problem: Autoplay works not only on CD-ROMs, but also on the flash drives and external hard drives that I connect to my PC. I'm worried that if some piece of malware gets on one of those devices, Autoplay will give it a clear path onto my system

Fast Fix: Set your version of Windows to disable the Autoplay feature for all of your system's drives. The quickest way I know of to accomplish this result is to establish a group policy for your computer.

In XP, press Windows-R, type gpedit.msc, and press Enter. In the tree pane on the left, navigate to and select Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System. Scroll in the right pane and double-click Turn off Autoplay. In the 'Turn off Autoplay Properties' dialog box, click Enabled and choose All drives from the drop-down list underneath. Click OK.

In Vista, press Windows-R, type gpedit.msc, and press Enter. Click Continue when prompted by User Account Control. In the tree pane on the left, navigate to and select Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\AutoPlay Policies. Double-click Turn off Autoplay. Click Enabled and OK. Next, double-click Default behavior for AutoRun. Click Enabled, and choose Do not execute any autorun commands in the resulting drop-down list.

Finish by clicking OK. Unfortunately, this approach can cause problems on some systems, such as making it impossible to access photos on a camera plugged into your PC. If that happens, return to the above settings, choose the Disabled option, and then use Microsoft's free Tweak UI (scroll down to Step 6).

Use Keys to Start Quick Launch Items

Problem: I find that doing things from my keyboard is faster. But I want to be able to launch items in my taskbar's Quick Launch toolbar without reaching for my mouse

Fast Fix: In XP, you can assign keyboard shortcuts either to items on your Desktop or to entries on your Start menu. The latter is a cleaner solution, so right-click the Start button and choose either Open or Explore. Double-click the Programs folder. To keep things organised, right-click in that window and choose New, Folder. Name the folder something like Keyboard shortcuts, and press Enter. Now double-click that folder, right-click and drag items from the Quick Launch bar into this folder one at a time, and choose Copy Here. Right-click each newly copied shortcut and select Properties. With the Shortcut tab highlighted, click in the 'Shortcut key' box and press the keys that you'll use to launch the program; they must begin with Ctrl-Alt, Ctrl-Shift, Shift-Alt, Ctrl-Shift-Alt, or a function key (F1 through F12 on most keyboards). Click OK. If you change your mind later and delete the shortcut, you'll have to log off and log back on again to remove the key assignment.

In Vista, the system automatically assigns Windows-key shortcuts to Quick Launch items based on their order in the toolbar. Launch the first item by pressing Windows-1, the second by pressing Windows-2, and so on. To change the keyboard shortcut for an item, drag it within the toolbar to change the order in which it appears.

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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