Our Recommended Methods for Virus and Malware Protection

Using Windows XP/Professional


(1)     Download, install and become familiar with Partition Wizard freeware:




(2)     Install a drive imaging program like Acronis True Image or Symantec’s GHOST software:  there is a free version of Acronis at Western Digital’s website, but that Acronis version will NOT install unless you have at least one Western Digital hard drive installed and running on your system:




(3)     Using the drive imaging software you installed at Step (2) above, make a complete backup of your C: system partition, and save it to a separate storage device;


(4)     Use Partition Wizard to reduce the size of your C: system partition to 30 to 50 Gigabytes (“GB”);  if you have the space, 50 GB are recommended if you intend to migrate to Windows 7 in the foreseeable future;


(5)     If you have enough empty space on your primary drive after reducing the size of C:, format a dedicated data partition in that empty space e.g. drive letter D: or E: or some drive letter other than C:;


(6)     Remove all currently installed virus and malware protection software, by running Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel and, when all are removed, re-boot your system;


(7)     Turn Off Automatic Updates:  right-click on My Computer, click on Properties, click on Automatic Updates and then click the radio button in order to Turn off Automatic Updates, then OK;


(8)     Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials from the Internet, and leave the default settings unchanged (for now):




(9)     Run Microsoft Security Essentials with default settings at least once;  after this finishes, double-check your Automatic Updates setting, because Microsoft Security Essentials has been known to change that setting in the past;


(10)   Write a drive image of your smaller C: system partition to a data partition on your secondary storage device, or to the dedicated data partition on your primary storage device if you have only one hard disk drive or only one solid-state drive;


(11)   It is best to write each drive image to a secondary storage device, particularly if your C: partition resides on a rotating platter:  this reduces “thrashing” of the READ/WRITE armature inside each hard disk drive (source and target), which minimizes wear and prolongs its useful life;  if your only storage device is an SSD, “thrashing” is not a problem;


(12)   After that drive image has been written to a secondary storage device, copy that drive image to the dedicated data partition that you created on your primary storage device at Step (5) above, and to every other data partition in your system;


(13)   If you only have one hard disk drive in your system, write the drive image directly to the dedicated data partition on your primary storage device that you created at Step (5) above;  this option will cause “thrashing” of the armature, however, because it must READ from the outermost tracks and WRITE to the innermost tracks;


(14)   At this point, you will need to re-train yourself to save all private data files to your dedicated data partition(s):  this is important, because restoring a prior drive image will overwrite the entire C: partition, and if you wrote new data files to that C: partition after creating your drive image, those data files will DISAPPEAR!


(15)   Immediately after every Update Tuesday (second Tuesday of each month), run Windows Update and make a habit of using the Custom option, in case you need to disable certain Windows features that you don’t really need or want;


(16)   After Windows Update has run successfully, create an updated drive image:  this will require some file management on your part, to avoid deleting your prior drive image(s):  we use this naming convention:  “images.001”, “images.002” and so on, and the folder “images” is reserved for the latest drive image;


(17)   Fortunately, hard disk drives have become so huge, it’s very easy to save a large number of these “images” partitions, e.g. images.075, images.076;  about once every 3 months (or less frequently), take a look at those archive folders, because some will have aged long enough that you can safely delete all of the older ones.