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Whether you’re a user of Windows XP for the first time or a seasoned veteran, every single user needs to understand these three key points about what you should and shouldn’t do in Windows XP:

  • Windows XP hides a key piece of information from you that can help you identify and avoid viruses. The next time you use Windows XP, take a few seconds and make it show you “filename extensions” — the little piece at the end of each file’s name, usually three characters long (for example, .doc or .exe or .bat), that dictates how Windows treats the file.

  • Windows XP will beg, bully, and cajole you into divulging all sorts of information about yourself, and you don’t have to give in. From the Registration Wizard to Windows Messenger, to .NET Passport and MSN and a dozen places in between — all of that information is optional. Don’t handout any more than you feel comfortable giving. There’s nothing illegal, immoral, or habit-forming about telling Windows Messenger, for example, that your name is William Gates III.

  • Windows XP does not have built-in antivirus protection. You need to buy, install, frequently update, and religiously use an antivirus package. Choosing one specific manufacturer’s package over another’s isn’t nearly as important as getting AV software installed, updated, and working. All of the major antivirus packages work well.

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