Bathe Once a Year Whether You Need It and Reformat and Re-install, Too
Once a year there's one major task you should do to ensure your computer is extremely secure. Actually, there's one major task and one minor one.
The minor one is easy. Buy an updated copy of this book because I'll keep you tuned into new developments in security. Windows Vista, the next version of Windows, is due out in late 2006 (so Microsoft says) and so that will be a whole new bunch of security fun. I also promise to write new jokes in every new edition.
That said, the major task you should do annually is to wipe your hard drive clean and re-install Windows from scratch.
Wipe Your Hard Drive and Re-install Windows
All versions of Windows are notorious for becoming unstable over time. The registry, where Windows keeps track of all of its settings, can become jam packed with garbage and this in turn can cause sluggish behavior and crashes. That's why I strongly recommend that you reformat your hard drive to wipe it clean and reinstall Windows once a year. If you really work your computer hard ( especially if you install and uninstall a lot of programs), you should reformat and re-install twice a year.
This ensures that you have the latest greatest Windows fixes as well as the freshest versions of all your security applications. It also eliminates any residual spyware or virus infections (should any have slipped past the defenses). If you have been visited by a hacker, the cleanse also wipes out any modifications they might have made to your computer.
To do this, simply refer to Chapter 9, "Starting from the Beginning: Wiping a Hard Drive and Rebuilding from the Ground Up," starting on p. 249 , and follow the steps. It's a drastic measure, but it's extremely worthwhile. It keeps your computer as secure as it can be and a side benefit is that it's the best way to keep your computer running as fast and efficiently as is possible. Understandably, it is an enormous pain in the yum-yum, so take your time. Try to do it over a spare weekend when the kids are at camp or in the Alps skiing.