How To Setup Your Computer

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An in depth look at setting up a machine for security, file sharing, and usefulness. This is a supplimentary guide developed by TD123 authors and is available for edit, suggestion, and development.

This page is in progress and incomplete.




  • Surge Protection – one of the basic protection mechanisms in computers. (Will include whole-house surge protection info.)
  • Firmware Updates – (see the web sites of your respective hardware manufacturers)

Windows Setup

Install and enter in serial number as per your license agreement. Eliminate unnecessary programs, especially MSN Explorer for Windows XP, if no modem available, do not enable Fax Services. If possible also remove Windows Media Player, Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer.

  1. Set up a default account with few or zero priviledges
  2. Setup admin account and place a wallpaper on the desktop telling user to stop using the admin account as soon as possible and to log out when they’re done.
  3. Delete all .tmp, .bmp, .wav, and .wma files
  4. Install software firewall such as ZoneAlarm or similar product.
  5. Check Windows Update / Office Update for software and OS updates

Under Control Panel

  1. Set Power settings – TD123 advises turning off monitor in approx 10 minutes but to set the hard drives to run constantly (turning off and turning on tends to reduce the life of hardware more than being always-on). On laptops, under the “Hibernate” tab, enable Hibernation — allows a shut down mode that uses only a tiny amount of battery power instead of “Stand By” that uses more and is less portable.
  2. Set Internet Explorer cache to 50-100 megs – usually defaults to much higher, wasting drive space.
  3. Set Folder Options: For admin computers: show hidden files and folders, un-hide extensions for known file types, un-hide operating-system files.
  4. If installing iTunes, turn off the iPod startup program using Startup Control Panel (see below).

In XP:

  1. System Properties: Advanced Tab, Performance: Set to “Adjust for best performance”
  2. Disable Windows Firewall and Security Center

Programs for turning off excess Windows junk

Recommended Software


  • Firewall: ZoneAlarm Personal Edition – a useful, paranoid Firewall program. While it has some bugs despite being a very mature program (lock settings sometimes don’t remain after reboot) I have found it very adequate and easy to use. Locking all connections but specific, allowed programs is very useful when running a server. Turn off antivirus and e-mail protection in free version – its not very useful.
  • Sybase
  • PeerGuardian – a blacklisting program that allows users to block access in or out to addresses which the user declines to see. (See PeerGuardian). While many firewalls allow this as well, PeerGuardian allows for entire categories of IP addresses to be removed such as government, educational, and more. Useful for File Sharing as well as for server operations that should not be accepting just any connection from the Internet.
  • TrueCrypt for Windows 2000/XP/2003 – an open source, easy-to-use program with no file size limit and a wide selection of encryption algorythms. Far better than many similar commercial products and likely more secure as the code is available for public inquirry. Great for laptops, to save sensitive files, and to store File Sharing programs.
Lets you open up an encrypted storage as if it were a removable drive. This allows installing entire programs into an encrypted volume which are nearly impossible to view when disconnected.
  • Anti-Virus: McAfee Anti Virus 8.0 (TSU Virus nfo) but turn off useless daily scanning. Recommend because, although not the latest and greatest, often cheaper initially and just as effective.


  • NetLimiter – a commercial product to help keep track of your internet’s behavior. Essential on slower connections where saturation by one program could slow the entire connection (especially uploads). Still looking for an open source alternative. Also known as traffic shaping.
  • Mozilla Firebird (direct link) – no big mystery why I like this program. But two plugins for it have made it absolutely indespensible, even in the face of great alternatives like Safari and a full version of Opera:
  • Adblock: – allows users to block advertisements and annoying flash intros immediately, even from entire domains (*)

Other plugins: View In IE, SpiderZilla, FireFTP, AutoHide, DownloadStatus, CookieButton, Prefbar, UndoCloseTab, Autocopy, Dict

  • GAIM (direct link) by default for multi-network chat with Encryption Plugin – GAIM is a free and community-developed program allowing connection to some ten different commercial and non-commercial chat networks. GAIM is consistantly the most popular program on SourceForge and new versions, details, bug fixes, and more are becoming available monthly. I don’t have a second place for my next chat client. There is only GAIM.
  • mIRC for visiting channels in IRC
  • AIM with AimEncrypt
  • FileZilla – (direct link) – outstanding, reliable FTP client with secure ftp capabilities and great resuming features.
  • FileZilla Server – this program, similar to its extremely popular open-source client allows for something I’ve been trying to setup for years: anonymous FTP. Someone wants a big file from me? Can’t e-mail it… sending them a burned DVD is a huge fuss… just put it on my FTP and most anyone can download it.
Its also useful for exchanging files from computer to computer over a local network that is hostile to Windows Shared folders (almost anyone with a Firewall).
Although the program boasts SSL functions, I’ve had difficulty using them.


  • NVU – an outstanding free, open source program taken from Mozilla’s composer editor. Even with minor bugs it still rivals many commercial products.
  • Netscape Composer (v4.79) an oldie but a goodie.
  • OpenOffice – (direct link) OpenOffice 2.0 beta – a lot has been said about this newly LGPL‘d product. The biggest win: taking broken Microsoft Word documents and FIXING them. Seriously! I have fixed broken MS templates and printed businesscards flawlessly. Further, the ability to save documents, pictures, or other items in PDF format quickly and easily has been very useful to make sure that everyone getting a document sees the same one.
I hope that Sun also releases more of their spreadsheet product for OpenOffice and progress is made in groupware.
  • NoteTab Lite – the program I’m using to write this document right now. Negatively: an undo function that only goes back once in your history (Microsoft Word can undo your actions often to the beginning of even very long documents). Yet its clean, tabbed interface has yet to find an equal for me. I keep everything on it and use it in conjunction with Rainlendar.


  • Compression: 7-zip – this Windows-only program could take the compression world by storm in two years. It is already producing compression levels far beyond the capability of WinZIP and WinRAR even at their highest levels. The program can be set VERY high in fact (depending on how much RAM you have) and your computer can spend all night searching a file of only a few megs for patterns it can compress. While a few kilobytes here or there might not seem like a substancial improvement, when you’re going to distribute a file to thousands of people, you need every last inch.
  • Folding@Home – a program that uses spare processor power to solve important problems in biology, which may lead to cures for deadly diseases.
  • RealAlternative that uses a modified version of Windows Media Player Classic (MPC), a knock off of the early (Windows 95) Windows media player and amazingly simple. However, it remains drag and drop, lightning fast, and supports a startling number of codecs. With a few downloads, I can play OGM files (popular for Japanese Animation) as well as Xvid, Divx, and RealAudio. This is one of my absolute favorite programs and something I install on friends’ computers because of its simplicity.
  • WinAmp 5 ( and/or 2.91 with DFX plugin.
  • VLC player cross-platform, simple and open source like MPC, often handling a greater variety of file types.
  • iTunes for the easy-to-use radio functions, and occasional on-network audio files. Do not use the MP3 encoder! See iTunes
  • DivX – DivX Player specifically for playing DivX files.
  • ZPlayer – another player handling a variety of codecs
  • BSPlayer
  • Remote Admin (VNC = Virtual Network Computing)
  • TightVNC – for remote control connections. This also required a Dynamic DNS client like the one at and some minor configuration. But its proved better than UltraVNC in its encryption of passwords, although neither product encrypt the data between computers.
  • UltraVNC – a similar alternative similar to Windows XP’s Remote Desktop tool.
  • Kaboodle – a network diagram program that can also behave as a VNC client and file transfer tool. Expect it will mature further and allow for fully encrypted VNC (I have found bugs in its current version that have restricted my use).
  • Zebedee (a secure tunneling program to encrypt VNC programs)
  • DVD Ripping
  • DVD Decrypter
  • Gordian Knot – note: downloads section often offline
  • CD Players
  • CD Burning
  • CD Ripping
  • EAC – Exact Audio Copy – a terrific program. Should be used (probably) in conjunction with Audacity
  • iTunes – do NOT use the MP3 encoder … see iTunes

File Sharing

  • Azureus with SafePeer
  • Limewire – no spyware, cross-platform, simple, and easy to use.
  • WASTE – (direct link) this difficult-to-set-up but fantastic program has revolutionized my life. I can now send my home computer files of any size securely over the course of several days or weeks from almost anywhere. Its firewall-friendly configuration and auto-resuming function makes sending large files (great for 50 meg Photoshop files) to my desktop. I had to setup a dynamic DNS provider ( but it was so very worth the trouble.
It also provides a groupware component so you can add friends to your trusted group and give them access to any number of random folders on on *any* drive – even network drives. Its secure chat has revolutionized the way I talk to my friends.


  • Calendar
  • Rainlendar – this has been a life-saver. Although an excellent program, I am not willing to install Microsoft Outlook on my computer to keep track of my calendar and events. Further, the program is very difficult to back up. With Rainlendar, I can back up all of my data by going to this folder:
c:Documents and Settings(UserName)Application DataRainlendar
And copying the contents (never more than a few kilobytes) to a disk or an FTP site.
Rainlendar has made me twice as effective as I was before. I owe them a great debt of thanks (and when I get some real money, I will donate to the author).
  • Mozilla Sunbird – quickly maturing into a fantastic calendaring program that may one day rival Outlook.

Other Recommended Programs

Nero, PowerDVD, WinRAR, FairUse, PartitionMagic


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