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StephanG
September 12th, 2011, 10:01 AM
I'm going down to my Grandpa's house for two weeks. He's asked me to take a look at his business's networks and PCs to see if I can get it running a bit more smoothly.

His business runs entirely on Windows XP machines. But, the thing is, I don't really know what to expect, and they don't have great Internet. So, I want to be prepared and download everything now that I might need. I was wondering if you guys could give me some pointers. What sort of things do you guys usually find to be useful?

At my disposal, I have an HTC Desire phone, portable HDD and LG X200 netbook (running Windows 7 and Kubuntu).

I've already downloaded:
1. Up to date browsers to replace the horrible I.E. 7 that they're still using. Both Firefox and Chrome.
2. Anti-Virus, just in case.
3. A network monitor to find problems/bottlenecks.
4. 7-Zip
5. FileZilla (Don't even know why, but somehow I feel unprepared going without it)
6. Overlook Fing on my Desire.

So basically, what I want to know from you guys, is some suggestions for things that I might find useful to download before I go. Either windows apps, to install on the work PCs, or Linux/Android apps that might help me to basically ensure that his business's IT experience doesn't suck... Or, suck less. (I'm not a miracle worker).

And if you have a few tips, those would also be appreciated. ;)

SlugSlug
September 12th, 2011, 10:07 AM
malwarebytes & mydefrag

a boot disk maybe useful (hirens)

StephanG
September 12th, 2011, 10:15 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, I'm checking out Malwarebytes and MyDefrag now. Although, I'm not sure how MyDefrag is different from the normal Windows Defrag...

As for the live disk, that reminds me: Something I should have mentioned earlier. I also have an 8 GB USB stick that I've turned into a portable linux distro. So, I am set on that front.

SlugSlug
September 12th, 2011, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, I'm checking out Malwarebytes and MyDefrag now. Although, I'm not sure how MyDefrag is different from the normal Windows Defrag...

As for the live disk, that reminds me: Something I should have mentioned earlier. I also have an 8 GB USB stick that I've turned into a portable linux distro. So, I am set on that front.


Mydefrag (used to be called jkdefrag) will add scheduled jobs for you. Its very light

StephanG
September 12th, 2011, 11:33 AM
Thanks, I've downloaded it. Looks like it should be useful. I'm pretty sure the last time those computers have been defragged, people were still worried about the Y2K bug.

user1397
September 12th, 2011, 12:10 PM
i always use ccleaner on a windows pc as a preliminary way to get rid of accumulated junk.

also make sure that there are only necessary startup programs (you can edit these easily in ccleaner also)

NightwishFan
September 12th, 2011, 12:22 PM
More often than not all the tiny things in the tray (or toolbars in IE) tend to be the problem.

Paqman
September 12th, 2011, 12:41 PM
He's asked me to take a look at his business's networks and PCs to see if I can get it running a bit more smoothly.


Has he been any more specific about what actual problems he's got, or does he just want you to give things a once over?



I've already downloaded:
1. Up to date browsers to replace the horrible I.E. 7 that they're still using. Both Firefox and Chrome.


Be careful with this. A lot of businesses use apps that will only work through IE (that sound you can hear is my teeth grinding). If you're going to replace browsers, make sure you take the time to find out what tasks and apps are critical to their day-to-day running and test them all thoroughly in the new browsers.

I'd say upgrading to the newest possible version of IE is the safest option, and switching browsers is a bonus if possible.

Lucradia
September 12th, 2011, 12:42 PM
I'd use COMODO Internet Security for a full solution to anti-malware, firewall, antivirus, (it also provides a UAC-like system on its own.)

And don't complain about Windows XP. I know some schools around here (Even colleges) that still use Windows 2000 on machines. (With Novell logins.) Some government offices around here also use Windows 2000 and Windows 98SE because they can't really be bothered to upgrade. I've suggested linux to them, they don't want people to be unfamiliar with the OS, so they won't.


I'd say upgrading to the newest possible version of IE is the safest option, and switching browsers is a bonus if possible.

IE8 and above can't be installed on Windows XP and older. (Same as DirectX 11+)

StephanG
September 12th, 2011, 01:07 PM
Has he been any more specific about what actual problems he's got, or does he just want you to give things a once over?


He doesn't really know. He still uses a 386 in his own office. The XP machines are mostly for his employees. And, I don't think he really knows anything about the performance of his setup. I think he's mostly just afraid that IT guys are taking advantage of his ignorance, so he's decided to have me give it a once over.

But, also, he does have an engineer's mind, and I'm guessing that a part of him just wants to feel like he's using modern technology.



Be careful with this. A lot of businesses use apps that will only work through IE (that sound you can hear is my teeth grinding). If you're going to replace browsers, make sure you take the time to find out what tasks and apps are critical to their day-to-day running and test them all thoroughly in the new browsers.

I'd say upgrading to the newest possible version of IE is the safest option, and switching browsers is a bonus if possible.

There's no real danger of this, given the nature of his business, but I will ask everyone what apps they run, and see google anything browser related. But, from what I saw last time I was there, I'm not even convinced they need internet.

But, be that as it may, when I leave, I want to feel that I've scrubbed every bit of grime and crap from those machines. I can tolerate slow hardware, but not software that runs unnecessarily slow on hardware.

StephanG
September 12th, 2011, 01:08 PM
i always use ccleaner on a windows pc as a preliminary way to get rid of accumulated junk.

also make sure that there are only necessary startup programs (you can edit these easily in ccleaner also)

Thanks, I'll take a look.

aeiah
September 12th, 2011, 01:10 PM
download service pack 3. install it in safe mode without networking (it goes a lot quicker that way)

inĚterĚpunct
September 12th, 2011, 01:30 PM
http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/computer-repair-utility-kit-definitive-portable-software

The toolkit isn't being offered anymore, but you can find most of the apps on the web. Some great apps there.

Also: http://www.technibble.com/categories/computer-repair-tools/

If they are stuck with IE I would install Google Chrome Frame (https://code.google.com/chrome/chromeframe/).

Recently helped out a friend who was running XP. ;)


IE8 and above can't be installed on Windows XP and older. (Same as DirectX 11+)

IE8 can be installed on XP.

cap10Ibraim
September 12th, 2011, 01:41 PM
make sure that they don't have apps that run on ie7 and not compatible with ie9
the best anti virus for windows is Microsoft security essentials which is also free
http://www.microsoft.com/en-lb/security_essentials/default.aspx
maybe get the service pack 3
if the use xp on their end machine you can setup Linux boxes as samba servers for
printer/file sharing or even for firewall and routing
see if they are using their full bandwidth or even increase it
(type of ports and cabling)
in the control panel in windows there are very useful diagnostic tools check them out for errors or misconfigurations

qyot27
September 12th, 2011, 01:52 PM
Remember to make sure that Firefox and Chrome are as fortified as they can be. Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus Popup Addon, Flashblock (I know ABP is available for Chrome, I don't know if the other two are).

Also, Spybot S&D's Immunization feature will help (remember to run Immunize after every definition update). You could ostensibly add Linux partitions to these computers and have avast! for Linux installed there - this is actually a better option than having a Windows-based AV install, IMO. Especially since most AV software sucks up resources for no reason, and if they do include real-time protection, you typically have to pay for that - and while you do have to pay for business licenses for avast!, if these computers are 10 years old then modern antivirus software will bring them almost to a halt performance-wise. Get that real-time protection in other ways (like the aforementioned Spybot Immunization and browser fortification), and use the AV from Linux, where the crap you're removing can't hide or protect themselves. The avast! for Linux interface is refreshingly basic, unlike its Windows counterpart, but it can still use current virus definitions.

Echoing the recommendations for firewall, CCleaner, Defraggler, and especially - because CCleaner may not immediately alert you to this or do it as thoroughly: 99 times out of 100, you can safely trash everything in the Temp cache (C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Temp - make sure you can see hidden files and folders, though). Many viruses and malware set up shop in there, and a regular Windows Explorer-based attempt to clear it out can make you aware if it has anything in there that shouldn't be, because it will likely refuse to be deleted. Like the AV suggestion, stubborn Temp cache lingerers can be snuffed from Linux.

StephanG
September 12th, 2011, 05:20 PM
Wow, thanks a lot for all the feedback. I'll definitely take a look at some of those apps. And thanks for the feedback. Especially to qyot27 for the Temp cache. I always forget to clean it out, and when I do, I forget where it's located.