Tag: Computer Maintenance

How to Remove Bots from Your Computer

A botnet is a virus that infects your computer, deletes files and changes your settings. It is a network of compromised systems that run on the command and control of bot masters. If your system is part of botnet, then they can harm your business data. They quietly infect your computer and its network without any warning and use your computers for criminal purposes. In our earlier article we discussed about the basic information on botnet, how to detect it and its preventive measures. In this article, we will discuss how to remove the bots from your computer.

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How safe are you browsing with Firefox?

Mozilla Firefox is a popular browser used by millions of Internet users all around the world. The coolest feature of Mozilla Firefox is its compatibility to add more and more plugins and enable yourself with advanced browsing.

However, we need to update our plugins as soon as a new version is available. Updates of these plugins will not only cover new features of the plugin, but also will address some vulnerability to security threats during browsing. Many people ignore it as it takes little time (a matter of no more than 2 minutes) for the plugin to update and restart the browser. This increases their risk to security threats online like malware, viruses, botnets, etc.

How to check if your plugin is up-to-date? Just click here or copy paste this URL in your browser https://www-trunk.stage.mozilla.com/en-US/plugincheck/.

The window that opens will let you know the status of your plugin.

  • Green indicates that your plugin is up-to-date.
  • Yellow indicates outdated but without known vulnerabilities.
  • Red indicates that the plugin is known to have security holes and is outdated.
  • Don’t worry about the Grey colored plugin.

Update your plugin frequently for safe and better browsing.

Should I Migrate to Windows 7?

Windows 7 OS is scheduled to be available to the public market in just over a month. There are many doubts and apprehensions about the capability of this OS as its earlier version Vista is a failure. It seems Microsoft has given enough weight this time to what the Windows users really wanted – a simpler and friendly OS. Windows 7 has some novel features while improving the older ones. Moreover, some flop features in Vista are removed from Windows 7 to improve the performance.

There are some advantages along with disadvantages of opting to Windows 7. The following information may help you in deciding whether you really need to upgrade to Windows 7-

Reasons to switch to Windows 7

  1. Application compatibility can be achieved by “Windows XP mode” by running virtual windows XP machine.
  2. Windows live essentials: It is a free software that make possible to do more things like instant messaging, e-mail, photo editing, and blogging.
  3. Improved search operation performance, as results will come instantly as categorized in groups. Moreover, key words are highlighted enabling easy file identification.
  4. Supports 64-bit PC that can handle huge amounts of information than a 32-bit system.
  5. Power management can be efficiently done by new features such as, running less number of background activities, automatic screen dimming, unused ports are not run and life indicator to battery.
  6. Multi touch technology allows to use more than one finger while operating the touch screen either at application level or system level.
  7. Protect files with features such as “Use Bit Locker” and “Bit Locker To Go”
  8. Continuous access to corporate resources with a broadband connection. No need to get a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.
  9. The feature “Domain Join” allows to connect multiple PCs, with or without a server.
  10. Supports 35 languages. So, you can easily switch among them by logging off, again logging on. Moreover, it supports handwriting recognition.
  11. System startup, shutdown and resumes are faster.
  12. Appearance of the desktop has improved by including fresh wallpapers, retooled task bar and improved gadgets
  13. Easy data sharing between two or more PCs by using “Share with” option.
  14. Windows 7 can read larger than 131 GB hard drive (unfragmented).
  15. Upgrading Vista to Windows7 will get 223% better performance while running IE8.
  16. In Action Center you can find information you need regarding system maintenance, trouble shooting, security issues etc.

Reasons to avoid Windows7

  1. Older PCs doesn’t have hardware compatibility to achieve ‘Windows XP mode’.
  2. Windows7 provides less battery life to the notebooks than Windows XP.
  3. Need to do clean install if you want to upgrade from XP to Windows7.
  4. If you’re an XP user you need to learn a new user interface.
  5. Runs the browser 11.5% slower than Windows XP.
  6. Requires high configuration like Vista.
  7. Very expensive to buy.

Comparison of System Requirements:

Requirement Windows7 Vista Windows XP
Processor 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor 223MHz CPU
RAM 1GB(32bit)/2GB(64bit) At least 1GB 128MB
Available disk space for OS installing 16GB(32bit)/20GB(64bit) 15GB 1.5GB

These descriptions and features will help you in learning ins and outs of Windows 7. Windows 7 has fixes to the drawbacks in Vista and it is desirable to move to the new OS. For the XP users, you may need to think twice before moving to Windows 7. Ultimately it is you to decide based on your computer usage and requirements.

PS: Click: “http://power-posts.com/2009/09/should-i-migrate-to-windows-7/” to view the the original context of this post.

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The Update Burden Getting Too Much on Computer Users

We have already emphasized enough on the importance of updates for computers regularly, in our previous articles. However, in the past few months the number of updates have been growing oddly burdensome to the average user. The number has grown to such extent that keeping up with the updates is turning into a second job. The Patch Tuesday is no more significant as you may expect a critical security update releasing today midnight or a set of updates the next day, giving you no time to plan. You miss them and might fall prey to the security breach – and the software vendor will simply point out your failure of not staying updated.

The software vulnerability and the updates
The updates are too technical to understand. But in simple words – a software, like the windows or the browser, is made of millions of lines of programming code. The more the features in the software, the more it adds upto to the programming code. Errors are inevitably made, while typing out these millions of lines or patching them to work together, thus leaving vulnerabilities in the software. Hackers, these days, have become more sophisticated in finding out these vulnerabilities proactively. The software vendor also works proactively to patch up the vulnerability before the hacker exploits it. These patches are released as security updates of the software.

Increasing number of updates
For the lack of a better metric lets compare the number of security bulletins released for Windows between January and April in the past 3 years, respectively. It was 16 in 2009, 29 in 2010 and 34 in 2011. As you can see, they kept increasing every year. This is not the case with just Windows. A typical Windows user will be using the following applications in common:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Adobe Flash
  • Adobe Reader
  • Java Console
  • Google Chrome
  • And then an antivirus or a PC protection software

And all these applications are as vulnerable as the Windows itself. And their vendors are also as proactive to release patches. And every time each of them releases an update the user will have to first download it from Internet and then patch it up with the main application. Of course each of them has a user friendly mechanism to update, but do you know what it takes to patch them all? Apart from time taken to patch, they will also consume your broadband till they are downloaded and the CPU memory till they patch up. The average sizes of each of these software updates and the number of times they were released this year are as follows:

  • Mozilla Firefox – 1.6 to 2.8 Mb (Updated 4 times in 2011 till date)
  • Mozilla Thunderbird – 1.6 to 2.8 Mb (Updated 3 times in 2011 till date)
  • Adobe Flash – 2.0 to 3.0 Mb (Updated 4 times in 2011 till date)
  • Adobe Reader – 10.0 to 18.0 Mb (Updated 1 time in 2011 till date)
  • Java Console – 17.0 Mb approximately (Updated 2 times in 2011 till date)

Windows updates range from 17 Mb to around 900 Mb and above. Google Chrome is little tricky to measure. It is even little creepy to have an application like Chrome that connects to its maker, downloads and patches up – all by itself, without even the knowledge of the user. But it still consumes your broadband and CPU memory.

The antivirus or PC protection software updates are little different from the above. They download security definitions everyday. Few vendors like Norton Internet Security, provide real time updates which keep updating more than 10 times a day. However, if all the software applications installed in your PC are perfect, why will one require to maintain a PC protection software or update its definitions daily.

Overall, we can see that lots of time and energy of the user is consumed here, apart from the broadband. In previous year, a report released by Secunia says that a typical Windows user patches for every 5 days. The days might remain the same, but the amount of time taken has definitely increased. Few times, multiple updates may come up within one week itself.

More and more people are finding it uncomfortable to track and do the updates continuously. Where could be the actual problem? Are the hackers getting intelligent or the software vendors getting stupid? Whatever it may be, the updates job is very exhausting and getting even worse.

Why Should We Run Windows Updates Regularly?

Security updates are delivered on the second Tuesday of each month, which is called “Patch Tuesday”, but security updates can be delivered whenever a software update is required to prevent an exploit targeting Windows users. Windows Update can be configured to install updates automatically, to ensure that a computer is always up-to-date and not vulnerable to computer worms and other malware.

Why to update systems with patches given by Microsoft?
The windows operating system we use in the computer is fundamentally made up of millions of lines of programming code. For example, Windows Vista is made of about fifty million lines of code. Errors are inevitably made, while typing out these 50,000,000 lines, thus making the software vulnerable.

Hackers try to exploit these vulnerabilities created by the mistakes in the software. They use the hacked computer to send spam, steal passwords of the owners/users in order to take over their identities and make online purchases.

In order to repair these errors, Microsoft regularly releases updates/patches for its products. These updates automatically take care of the vulnerable part of the code by repairing or replacing it with safer one.

Quick Facts:
As of 2008, Windows Update has about 500 million clients, processes about 350 million unique scans per day, and maintains an average of 1.5 million simultaneous connections to client machines. On Patch Tuesday, the day Microsoft typically releases new software updates, outbound traffic can exceed 500 gigabits per second. Approximately 90% of all clients use automatic updates to initiate software updates, with the remaining 10% using the Windows Update web site. The web site is built using ASP.NET, and processes an average of 90,000 page requests per second.

How to perform windows update – for Dummies:
There are many ways through which you can update your windows manually.

  • Go to all programs in start menu and find “Windows Update” and click on it. (OR)
  • Right click on “My Computer”. Go to “Automatic Updates” tab. Click on “Windows Update Website”. (OR)
  • Open “Internet Explorer“. Type windowsupdate.microsoft.com in the address bar and hit Enter.

All the above steps will direct you to Windows update site of Microsoft. Click on “Express” button. The site will provide all the recommended updates for your computer. Click on ‘Review and Install Updates’ and then on ‘Install Now.’

Precautions while performing windows updates:

  • Log in as Administrator into your system.
  • Make sure there is no interruption in power or internet while updates are going on. That may make things messy for later updates.
  • Some updates require restarting of your computer. Make sure you save and close all your work and applications before you start installation process.
  • Use Internet Explorer only as updates don’t work on other browsers.

PS: The above mentioned process is for people without much idea on “windows updates”.