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Securing WinXP Step 1
Securing WinXP Step 2

Windows XP Security

This tip is written about Windows XP, but it can be applied to all Microsoft operating systems, but the details may be slightly different.

Step 1 - Visit the Microsoft Update Web Site

Windows XP is the most secure of the Windows desktop operating systems to date, but it is not without its faults. Vulnerabilities are being discovered constantly, so to ensure your computer’s security you need to get the patches, fixes and updates that Microsoft releases periodically. Microsoft has made this easy for you with the Microsoft Update Web Site.

Upon connecting to the web site you may receive a security notification that the site requires an ActiveX control to work properly, allow Internet Explorer to install this.

Once the web site ensures that you have the latest version of the controls that it needs, you will see two buttons: one for “Express” and one for “Custom” installation of updates.

The “Express” button will check for, download and install “High Priority” updates: the updates that Microsoft has decided are the most important. Under most circumstances this would be sufficient, but this time you want to choose “Custom”, which will show us a more complete list of updates, including updates that do not directly affect security but may enhance performance or make Windows XP work better with your hardware.

After clicking “Custom” there will be a delay while “Checking for the latest updates for your computer…” Be patient, this may take several minutes.

Once the list of “High Priority Updates” is displayed, note that each of these has a green check mark in front of it as an indication that that update is selected to be downloaded and installed on your computer. This is good, but we also want to see if there are other updates available for your computer.

If you look at the left-hand column of the web page, you will see a green icon with a white arrow pointing to “Install Updates (X)” where X is the number of updates currently selected.

Below that you will see a section labeled “Select By Type” with three subsections labeled “High Priority (X)”, “Software, Optional (X)”, and “Hardware, Optional (X)”. If there are Software or Hardware updates available for your computer you should consider selecting these updates also.

NOTE: If there are a lot of “High Priority Updates” or if you are using a slow Internet connection, you may want to postpone getting the other types of updates until after the “High Priority Updates” have been downloaded and installed and the computer has been rebooted (if necessary).

Once you have put a green check mark by all of the updates you are going to get right now, either click “Install Updates” in the left-hand pane of the web page, or click “Review and Install Updates” in main section of the web page.

The screen that will be displayed will show you all of the updates you selected, allow you read more information about each update and show you how an estimate of how long it will take to download the updates. After reviewing this information, click the “Install Updates” button.

This starts the download process. Once all of the updates are downloaded, the installation process will begin.

NOTE: The download and install process may seem to take forever, especially if there are a lot of updates to get. Don’t get discouraged, go get a cup of coffee or play a game of “Solitaire”, and check back every few minutes.

Once the updates are installed on your computer, you may be told that you need to reboot your computer for the updates to take effect, close down all of your programs, save all of your work and then restart your computer.

Once your computer has rebooted, you are not done yet. You must repeat the process, even if you selected all of the updates that were available. The reason is that sometimes installing one update will make another update available for your computer. So you should repeat this process from the beginning until the Microsoft Update web page says that there are no more updates for your computer.

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