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System Upgrade and Cleaning

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Hi guys, I am not quite sure where to put this and you've probably been hearing this a lot around the holidays but I was able to convince my folks to purchase a new desktop. It's nothing fancy but they desperately needed a new one as our old one had been through [bleep] and back, surviving a couple crashes, a couple viruses, and an upgrade to Windows 7 (it was originality Windows XP). Recently it has been slowing down to a crawl just trying to check their email. They will be breaking out the new one on Christmas day and before that I would like to get your opinion on a couple things if I could. First, What virus protection do you guys suggest they use? We have already gotten quite a few headaches over the years from using Norton and McAfee and I have been hearing mixed reviews about a variety of free programs. What's your take on AVG, Avast and some other popular ones? They won't be doing anything crazy on it aside from surfing the web, downloading and listening to music, and playing simple Windows 98 era games on it.

Secondly, I am hoping to do a complete cleansing of the old machine, top to bottom, and get it running smoothly so that I can use it on a daily basis. If you had any pre-existing guides on choosing hard drives, memory cards, etc, as well as performing a clean re install of the operating system I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance for any help, happy holidays.
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    Grumpy Ol' MSgt (Ret.)

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There are many good free anti-malware solutions - the key is to use them and keep them, and Windows, updated. Since I migrated my systems to Windows 7, I have been using Window 7 built in Windows Firewall and Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) with no problems. It is important to note the user is always the weakest link and most malware infestation are caused by a lack of discipline - and typically from users who participate in illegal filesharing of tunes and videos via torrents and P2P (peer to peer) sites.

I see no reason to buy a anti-malware program - there are just too many capable free ones out there.

Windows 98 era game may be an issue on any new machine. They may have to say bye-bye to them if they want a modern and secure system. It is better to upgrade the software to current versions too.

As for hard drives and card readers, we cannot answer that until we know what the computer supports. Mostly, if old, it has EIDE (AKA IDE or PATA) drives. And it is has USB ports, it will support just about any reader.
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