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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Nov 2010
    Denver, Colo
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    I have often asked myself if am the only one that has feelings that once your computer gets bitten by a Virus or you happen to noticed that your browser acts up kinda weird like or any number of things that we often can contribute to ill gotten troubles regarding our computers, Does our trust diminish in our computer ?

    Have you bought yourself a Brand New computer and since you spent hard earned bucks on it, YOU want to get it that way, don't you ? You must act this way if you had bought a new laptop, right ? We all face the same quest in our lives, Taking care of something we respect and own.

    Have you wished there was a place on the internet to see if your shining new computer is up to the same task as it was when you first plugged it in to the internet ?

    I've asked that myself many, many times and still haven't found that 1 STOP for all my diagnostic test. Often, we scour the net and search out for these and others to help us to maintain our computers because ultimately, we have to maintain that same COMFORT that we once had.

    So, my question is this : Where do you go for help, Who do you ask for advice and more importantly, Who do you trust ?

    I have a site that I often check to see if my firewall is up to snuff, it's called GRC and the program is called Shields UP.

    Does anyone want to contribute to this post ? Please do so knowing that your helping everyone, Thanks.

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
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    My belief is that one's PC is only as secure as we make it. I use a very good AV/AM app (MSE) combined with a good software firewall (Win 7 Firewall) and a good hardware firewall (router firewall) and safe surfing keep my PC safe. If I'm going to a site I don't know or is deemed questionable, I use a virtual environment using Sandboxie. I also utilize WOT during my surfing and stay away from those sites that are always questionable (porn). These activities keep me safe enough that I do not feel I have to check with sites that check my security. I also utilize up to date Images so that if somehow I still get struck with a nasty, I can simply format and reload my system in minutes. How much safer can I be than that.
    Have a Great Day! Ted

    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
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  3. #3
    Gold Lounger
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    Oct 2007
    Johnson City, Tennessee, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Prout View Post
    I have often asked myself if am the only one that has feelings that once your computer gets bitten by a Virus or you happen to noticed that your browser acts up kinda weird like or any number of things that we often can contribute to ill gotten troubles regarding our computers, Does our trust diminish in our computer ?

    Does anyone want to contribute to this post ? Please do so knowing that your helping everyone, Thanks.
    Hello... This is where having a "full image backup" before the problem, ready to go comes in play. Even after ridding your PC of the problem there will always be that thought .... "i wonder if this problem ( even if it's not ) is related to the virus or malware that i had ?" The only way that i know is to periodically do a full image backup to another hard drive , external or internal. This way you can be reasonably sure .... It's not from the original problem. Regards Fred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

  4. #4
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Manning, South Carolina
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    Yeah, what Ted & Fred said in spades! I'd add using OpenDNS in your router and locking down your HOSTS file. And let's not forget a good dose of "Common Sense" when surfing.

    Edit: Almost forgot...a good password manager like LastPass or my favorite RoboForm.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!


    PowerShell & VBA Rule!

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  5. #5
    5 Star Lounger
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    Dec 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
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    Interesting subject, and I have a number of thoughts that may be relevant.

    A computer is by far the most customizable, most flaky piece of technology you will ever purchase. That being the case, the only way you will ever keep it "pristine" is to leave it in the box and put it on a shelf. The most secure computer is the one that's turned off and locked up. Just like buying a new car, the only way to keep it free from scratches and other wear and tear is to put it in the garage. Of course all of that is silly, right? One makes these purchases because we want to use it. So, just like driving that new car and avoiding every peril we can reasonably avoid, we can approach computing in the same manner, within reason of course.

    Everything said so far about protecting yourself is indeed prudent. Shields UP is an OK tool, but is very out of date. It is a port scanner and tests for incoming open ports. Any hardware firewall will pass Shields Up tests without a problem. When you test it with Shields Up once, unless you open incoming ports, there is no need to ever check it again. So long as you have a hardware firewall, the real issue today isn't the incoming port scans, but the outgoing requests that malware and other nasty intrusions make from your PC once they install themselves. The only way to deal with that is a personal firewall configured to block all out going traffic except for what you deem safe.

    When I purchase a new PC, the first thing I do is tweak it. I turn off all unnecessary services, remove anything from startup that isn't absolutely necessary, and uninstall all the "junkware" that vendors think we need. Then I make an image. This is my "baseline". I have no need to test performance, many programs do create enough of a performance hit on their own without even getting into a discussion about malware. For example, older versions of MS Office were notorious for slowing down a PC after they were installed. Others I install on purpose, and I'm willing to take a hit on because I like something the software does. When things do seem to be slowing down, its time to do some maintenance, defrag, chkdsk, validate that the registry isn't all clogged up with bogus entries, etc. So, yes, I rely on my own knowledge of things to keep it as "pristine" as possible. It doesn't hurt that I've been a Systems Admin for going on 15 years now. That being the case, I've never been uncomfortable with my PCs performance or the knowledge of whether or not I can get it back to a point of the performance I expect. When I do need help, sites like Windows Secrets Lounge are a big help, but remember, Google is your friend. If you have a problem, someone else has had it before and the answer is just waiting to be plucked. In 18 years of using MS Windows, I've only had viruses/malware on my home machines about 3 times (I have 3-5 PCs and laptops at any given time). Each time I've been able to clean up with no ill effects. The key is doing a bit of research and finding out where these things hide and making sure nothing is loading into memory that you don't want to be loaded in memory.

    Quite honestly, I rarely have to "tune up" my PCs, XP once or twice a year at most, Windows 7, not all so far. Here's the bottom line. One can get a little paranoid about security and performance to the point of spending more time tweaking and scanning than actually computing. Take care of the basics: hardware firewall, a good Internet security package, and practice "safe" computing (watch where you surf, don't open suspicious e-mails, thing like that), and your computing experience will for the most part be a good one.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    California & Arizona
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    Trust doesn't belong in your computer or the guy that just helped you troubleshoot it. It belongs in your own propensity to learn and the experience that you gain from it.
    If one doesn't make an effort to learn [something/anything] about the technology one is using, then one will always find themselves asking for help and wondering if that help will
    ultimately be of any use.

    Many of us here rely on ourselves to maintain our own computers. It's what we've learned over the years through trial and error, through good & bad advice,
    and also through countless good sources of information that makes the difference.
    Everything you need to know about any subject in computing is right there at your fingertips in this thing we call the internet, you just have to make an effort to retrieve and make sense of it.
    You could build your own computer without ever having to ask or post a single question. That speaks volumes on the quality and quantity of information out there.
    If you are of the attitude that someone else should always be providing all the answers, then you are already dead in the water and there is no hope of you learning anything meaningful, ever.

    Make an effort to learn. Make an effort to learn. Make an effort to learn.

    Now that I'm done with my cathartic preachy rant, and got it safely off my back, the best single source of information I have ever encountered was through the Langa List
    and all of his links, including those of GRC, throughout the years that he had it running and before that too.

    I think Fred Langa is the person I could credit the most in terms of good quality info and of learning how to troubleshoot computers and general overall computer know how.
    If I had to pick a single source he would be it, hands down.
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
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