Help Me Keep My New PC Happy, Healthy and Safe From Harm
June 25, 2014 2:54 AM   Subscribe

I've very recently (ie yesterday) got myself a brand new desktop PC! I would really like your advice on the best ways to keep it running at its best, protected from the nasty things that lurk on the internet (virii, malware, spyware etc) and set up to get the most out of our blossoming relationship... The machine runs on Windows 8.

Where possible I'd like to use freely available software- though I'm not averse to paying for things when it is worthwhile. The machine runs on Windows 8 (much to my chagrin so far.. I was a big fan of 7). What can you recommend?

As an extension to my question: what are some of the essential things I should be acquiring/ installing/ setting up/ configuring to make my Computing Life a joy to live? In a nutshell- what do you recommend I do to keep my new PC happy, healthy and safe from harm?

Thank you, oh you kind folk of Ask!
posted by Philby to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
deezil's profile is often cited as a good starting point for questions of this sort.

Beyond this there are a number of places where you can find out how to fix various unwanted novelties in Windows 8. Here is one.
posted by rongorongo at 3:13 AM on June 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks RongoRongo- in fact, Deezil's profile was the very place I started!

I love that the title of the linked article is "Top Ten: Making Windows 8.1 Work Like Windows 7"- that's exactly how I feel about the darned OS. Thanks!
posted by Philby at 3:52 AM on June 25, 2014

Best answer: Oh - and samsara's profile too.
But there is a lot of detail here. If I were you I'd basically do the following:

1. Remove any commercial trials of any software the comes with your PC. Especially that aimed at anti-virus. See deezil's profile for details.
2. Make sure that Windows Defender aka Microsoft Security essentials - which comes with Windows 8 - is running OK.
3. Consider an additional antivirus application. Malwarebytes seems to be well recommended and, if you are going to spend money on anything, its pro version is particularly good (I've been using that for a year or so - so I can vouch for that.
4. Set up openDNS (link in samsara's profile).
5. Use ninite to handle the installation of all the programs that you are probably going to want in one go - it will make the whole installation process a lot easier. You could also use this to help with patches of software - making sure that nothing you are using falls out of date.
posted by rongorongo at 3:55 AM on June 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: With regard to antivirus programs, I've had good results with ESET NOD 32 (we use it at work), but there are certainly other options. ESET doesn't use too many resources, and it's reasonably effective (though not perfect) at stopping malware infections.

There are lots of excellent, free programs out there. Many sites maintain lists of the best ones. This site is a good resource for freeware.
posted by alex1965 at 3:56 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

- One more step, again as per samsara, is making sure that your everyday windows account has limited rights rather than full admin rights. Before you install a program you want windows not just to be popping up an "are you sure" dialogue box - but also asking you to put in a password for your admin account. Like with grown up operating systems.
posted by rongorongo at 4:07 AM on June 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I use Avast and MalwareBytes. I installed Classic Start Menu. I changed my account to have limited rights. I installed Firefox and Chrome. I went through add/remove programs to get rid of cruft.
posted by kathrynm at 6:22 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A mitigation trick I've found helpful is not to use the various "My Whatever" directories in your userspace. Instead, I just keep my music in \mp3\ and pictures in \pix\ and so on. So if needs by I can nuke a user account but not lose any music or pictures or whatnot.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:31 AM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've very recently (ie yesterday) got myself a brand new desktop PC!

Make a restore image right now so you can always restore the box to today's factory-fresh state.

Keep your data on other drives that you can (and do) easily back up separately.

If things ever get shitty, you will be able to completely wipe or physically replace the boot drive and start again without losing anything.
posted by pracowity at 2:04 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 2nding having your daily account not be an admin. You will avoid the vast majority of malware by running as a standard user rather than an admin.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:49 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks a bazillion, oh wise and benevolent denizens of MeFi- where the Eagle soars! I have put your suggestions into action, and hope to enjoy a long and fruitful partnership with my new machine. Marvellous!
posted by Philby at 1:07 AM on July 4, 2014

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