Windows Startup Programs, viruses, updates and spyware
Maybe someday dealing with Windows problems won't be part of our lives, but for now, most of us have to deal with these things now and then. Aside from viri and adware and security issues, a common source of problems is startup programs: all the things that load when Windows starts. On modern systems, if you run "msconfig" and click into the Startup tab, you'll likely see a long list of programs. Some of them are immediately identifiable: you probably understand what "Quickbooks Update" is and whether or not you want it. But what about "igfxtray" and "ccApp" - what are they, and do you need them? Actually these two are common and useful and you probably do want them, but how would you know that? The searchable list at Startup Applications List can often help you.
On other Windows subjects: keeping up to date with Windows Updates is becoming very important. It is still a double-edged sword - these updates can do damage too - but I've found that to be less and less likely recently. As for the warnings against SP2, so far I have NOT seen problems. Overall, I think not keeping up with these will cause more problems than otherwise.
I do recommend all Windows users install and use a program like Malwarebytes and of course it is critical to run desktop virus scanning even if you are scanning at your gateway (see Protecting corporate email by using multiple anti-virus scanners) .
I'm of divided mind on the subject of centralized servers to update desktop machines. On the one hand, it is convenient and of course it also cuts down on internet bandwidth for downloads, but it does require the resources of another server and it may limit your choices for what you use on the desktop. It also may require specific Desktop OS choices - some of these don't work at all with older Windows OSes. Then there is the "all the eggs" problem - if that server doesn't update its virus protection, nobody gets updated, which could lead to a major problem if everyone got hit with a bad virus. For these reasons, I tend to lean toward individual installation for smaller companies, but it's definitely just a "lean" - I'm not adamant about it.
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