WinXP Virus Management
September 24, 2004 5:12 PM   Subscribe

WinXPVibratesFilter: While the brand new XP that lives within my Powerbook, courtesy VirtualPC, appears fully functional and not terribly dog slow, what should I do to rope it off from these viruses I'm told of time and again by my Wintel-using fellow-geeks? Free, as ever, is the best. Also, for whatever reason, the Windows Update website auto-scan thingy just autoscans, unto infinity. I've managed to whack the pseudo-box into updating despite this, but it makes auto-updating, as a class, suspect.
posted by mwhybark to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Don't use IE or Outlook Express... that's at least 50% of the virii/malware infections right there.
posted by falconred at 5:25 PM on September 24, 2004

Also, configure Virtual PC to use "Shared Networking" instead of "Virtual Switch Networking." This will provide additional -- though hardly complete -- protection against attacks, as it hides the VPC instance behind NAT.
posted by majick at 11:47 PM on September 24, 2004

For VPC to run "quicker" on a Mac, you'll need to do some serious tweaking. Go to your display settings, uncheck all of the effects. That's right - all of them. Then go to Settings, and lower the resolution to 16 bit. Set the desktop to a solid color image - preferably black. Revert the overall appearance to "Windows Classic Style" (aka Windows 2000 mode). Then set the active window title bar color to black. Make both sides of the menu bar, excluding text, are black. Set the inactivetitle window title bar to grey on both sides, excluding text. With the reduced color/hue settings, the emulation layer has fewer numbers to crunch.

You should then close your Windows session and go into your Settings section of your Virtual PC List. In the Performance section, push the meters as far to the right as possible. Then reboot your Windows session. You'll notice a tolerable boost in response time, though as VPC is a hardware emulation program, it'll always be somewhat laggy. Refer to previous AskMe threads concerning spyware, and be sure to check out SpyBot Search + Destroy, which allows you to close unwanted apps which autostart in Windows. has tips on streamlining XP even further. Good Luck!
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:33 AM on September 25, 2004

i have used win2k (and before that nt) for years, and have never had a virus (with a variety of machines, including a laptop used directly on the net, desktop in an infected internal network etc etc). i do the following:
  • enable only tcp/ip on the network stack. no microsoft client for whatever unless i'm on a safe, clean, closed network
  • no public shared disks
  • use putty or cygwin/ssh for file transfer.
  • use firefox (these days) for a browser
  • install a free virus checker (akg recently)
  • install a free personal firewall (verio recently)
  • handle mail on a unix box and read mail on the windows machine with webmail (squirrelmail)
  • i've also played with the built-in firewall (advanced tab in network config), but the kerio firewall is easier to use
  • run adaware from time to time
  • don't install random crap
with that, and cygwin, i find it (win2k - not used xp) rock solid (haven't seen a single blue screen on my laptop, and no viruses).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:19 AM on September 25, 2004

oh, and keep up-to-date with service patches
posted by andrew cooke at 6:21 AM on September 25, 2004

I use avast ( for virus checking and run spybot and ad-aware (both available on every so often. I use zonealarm for my firewall and it's done me fine thus far.
posted by Mossy at 6:54 AM on September 25, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, folks, solid tips for any user!

SD, so far the emulation has not been annoyingly slow at all, but I will monkey around with your info as a learning tool.

I have looked around for SP2 but found it hard to find online. I'm running XP Home, not Pro, and wonder if this is a limited-support instance from MS.

Andrew, interesting advice. I think I need to leave the .NET stuff in place for my intended uses, though. I'm glad to know that that stuff can be disabled. It's been at least five years since I used any flavor of Wintel and stuff has clearly changed.
posted by mwhybark at 1:10 PM on September 25, 2004

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