Firewalling and Securing Windows XP


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As you may or may not of heard, the computer that I own for myself is a Compaq Presario 1700T. It has a 512mghz precessor with 128mb of RAM and an 8MB video card, and a 20.0 gigabyte hard drive. I recently put XP on it again, after fooling around with Linux for while.

Before I was using Linux, I didn't use my computer to browse the internet. But over the last couple of months I started using it on the internet more. And low and behold, I got a trojan because I didn't have anti-virus and the only firewall I had was Windows Firewall.

After my time with Linux, I put the free AVG security suite on my computer. But because it is so old, it caused my computer to run almost as slow as when I had a trojan. (10 minutes to turn on, large lag when opening different programs). I removed AVG and havn't gone on the internet because of lack of protection. I am know currently looking for a (very) lightweight firewall that will keep me from getting infected, or a way to make Windows Firewall work. (because I know what I downloaded, I know that trojan snuck in, and I didn't download it). Any Suggestions?

By the way, it'd be good if it was free also.

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I use AVG and I agree it can slow down your computer quite a bit if you just keep it with the default configuration. I turn off "active monitoring" and instead run a scheduled check of my computer once a day or so. I don't need AVG checking if I have a virus every 10 minutes. Once a day is more than enough. I still recommend you run AVG for that extra peace of mind.

As for free firewalls, the standard that most people use is ZoneAlarm. It's free for home use, and quite powerful. Definitely better than the built in Windows Firewall.

I don't run any firewall though, I feel THAT slows down my computer too much :P

Another precaution you can take about getting a virus is to run Safari or Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Those two browsers aren't bullet proof but they're definitely a lot better in regards to security than IE. Or you can run IE7 if you aren't already, I think that is more secure as well. Essentially IE6/6.5 is a haven for viruses.

Firefox WILL run on your computer, so don't worry about that. I was running it on a 400MHz computer for a while and it was totally fine.

And in general, I recommend NOT using P2P services like LimeWire or anything like that. Instead just use utorrent and the tracker sites like snarf-it.org.

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I didn't realize ZoneAlarm was free, I'll have to check that out. And I pretty much never use Limewire, as it's pretty crappy. (Need More Sources...) I don't use uTorrent much either, because of the dial up internet issue. What do you think of demonoid and Mininova as trackers. I'll check out your AVG tip, but my computer is really slow. I already use Firefox (2.0.0.7), so that's not a big issue. Is there a way to run Safari for Windows? I thought it was Mac only.

I know that there's a lot of questions shoved into one paragraph, but bear with me.

Do any of the Windows Updates actually help Windows Firewall? I don't normally download them as they have a pretty bad reputation...
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Mininova is pretty good, haven't used demonoid. I don't use torrents too much (streaming from Stage6 ftw) but I'll go to snarf-it.org as my first stop. Safari is now available for Windows, and I've been trying it out the past few weeks. In certain things it's a lot better than Firefox, namely speed, but in others it's worse. I don't know how Safari will scale to an older computer such as yours, but it can't hurt too much to try it out.

And yes, the updates do help the Firewall. Well I imagine so, I don't know 100% for sure, but in those hundreds of security fixes a few of them have to be towards the Firewall.

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When you download something from Mininova, the traker is still sometimes demonoid, I'm not sure how that works? I get a "Tracked by Demonoid.com" text file with my download? Is snarf it like that?
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It's been a while since I've downloaded a torrent so I can't say definitively one way or another. Most of these trackers are based off of the same information/torrents so a lot of the information WILL be the same, including the "tracked by demonoid". It's like how you'll get similar search results whether you use Google, Yahoo, it's just a matter of taste as to which you prefer.

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