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What things should I run daily, weekly, monthly on my Windows XP machine?

  • De fragmentation
  • Scan-disk
  • Full system scan
  • Disk clean up
  • Trojan checker
  • malware remover

or any other thing...

And should I run all these things in Safe-mode always?

I want to perform all mentioned things automatically at night. How to set schedule and What would be the best plan? For daily weekly and monthly?

I've 300 GB SATA HDD with 6 partition.

I would like to know in above mentioned list:

  • Which process should I run daily?

  • Which process should I run weekly?

  • Which process should I run on monthly basis

  • How to set schedule for all in Windows task scheduler?

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8 Answers 8

My recommendations:

Defragmentation : not much use at all. At most once a year.
Antivirus full scan : monthly.
Full backup: before doing a Windows Update (disk imaging to an external disk is best).
Update checker : monthly (FileHippo and SUMo), to check that all your products are fully patched.

All these must be done in a supervised manner, and so can't be run automatically.

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You can schedule Disk Defragmenter using scheduled tasks, Antivirus can be scheduled, Full backups can be scheduled, it varies depending on the method you use to do these things but all 3 can be scheduled. –  Joe Taylor Mar 2 '10 at 9:47
    
@Joe Taylor: You're right, most things can be scheduled. However, their results should still be verified. These operations can't really be scheduled and forgotten. –  harrymc Mar 2 '10 at 13:55
    
@harrymc - I aggree, the results should be checked, the point i was making is only that the actions can be scheduled. Just doing it but never looking kind of sets you up to fall. "I'll just restore that file... Now how do I do it?" springs to mind –  Joe Taylor Mar 2 '10 at 14:39
    
Many smaller utilities are included in LiberKey. It updates them automatically without supervision. –  egon Mar 2 '10 at 16:24

Since you're talking about running these events overnight, the short answer is that you can run all of them. Doing redundant defragmentation won't hurt your machine. It may waste time, but if you're running it overnight, it won't matter.

The most important thing, of course, is backup. Preferably to an external device or network share, if possible. Your data is the most important thing; everything else can be rebuilt if necessary.

What I find is the best to handle syncronization of these tasks is to run a single task overnight. That task is a batch job, which runs each of the other tasks in sequence. That way, you don't get a disk cleanup starting while the backup is still running, etc.

or any other thing...

Overnight jobs are a great time to

  • sync your system clock
  • compress redundant/obsolete logs
  • rebuild any tools that have large indexes
  • run chkdsk on large drives

And should i run all these things in Safe-mode always?

There's no need to do that, unless a particular application you're running explicitly requires it.

I want to perform all mentioned things automatically in night. How to set schedule and What would be the best plan. for daily weekly and monthly?

In XP, there's a cron daemon (to use the Unix term) already built in. It's called "Scheduled Tasks".

To set up a cron job/scheduled task called "Overnight", do the following:

Control Panel->Scheduled Tasks->File->New->Scheduled Task

Select the "New Task"->Properties, and enter:

[Task Tab] (Run) C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /C C:\Overnight.bat (Start in) C:\

[Schedule Tab] Select daily, 4:00 AM, every 1 days

And click . You'll have to enter your password for the task to be loaded. Now, the Overnight.bat batch file will run at 4 in the morning every day.

Within the batch file, you can call all the utilities that you want, in succession. There's all sorts of ways to check the day and date, so if you only want to run a defrag on Mondays, you can do that.

In my overnight script, for example, I do a complete image backup of my C: drive (using DriveXML) every Monday. If it's not Monday, I just do an incremental backup of C: to another disk. I do a full defrag of certain disks on certain days, not all at once. Of course, I'm sitting on 6TB of data, so I have to compartmentalize it a bit more than you will, otherwise my 4am job would still be running a 8am when I wake up.

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There are plenty of useful, housekeeping task that you could do with doing periodically... most people know to virus-check periodically, and even to check for Windows updates (though they might not be entirely fastidious about it).

Billdehaan and Harrymc have covered most bases... but my pet moan is about backups - even the people who should know better fail to adequately protect themselves.

These days we have all sorts of valuable information on our computers, and not only should they be secured, they should also be backed-up securely - and ideally in more than one place. We have financial details, important email correspondence (e.g. receipts for online purchases), photographs (wedding & baby pics can't always be replaced), DRM-crippled music, films and games... lots of things.

It's up to you decide how much valuable stuff you have, and how secure you need it to be, but I'd recommend some of the following:

  • firstly, a decent, flexible backup program that can securely create & schedule backups
  • an additional internal drive for holding backups
  • an external HDD or NAS box for storing backups
  • backing up to DVD and storing off-site (DVDs can't be trusted on their own, but are a useful additional protection)
  • trading backups with trusted friends and relatives

Personally, I have an internal 1TB disk for backups, 2 separate 500GB NAS boxes and I swap stuff with a relative with an external hard disk. I use Acronis True Image Home, which I'd recommend (but there are other cheap and free alternatives), and it emails me after each attempt to confirm success.

This whole package might sound like overkill, but my regime has saved me on a number of occasions - you can adapt to fit your needs. A single disk failure is extremely common; you are less likely to lose multiple disks at the same time, but theft is always a small risk.

Final two tips:

  1. Make sure the most important things are backed up in at least two places

  2. Make sure you sample the most important backups periodically - just because they backed-up successfully doesn't mean that they will maintain their integrity forever...

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The answer pretty much exclusively depends on your usage of the computer; nobody can tell you what needs to be run or how often other than yourself since nobody knows exactly what you do with your computer.

For example, some people say that defragmenting is useless, and for those people it might be, but for other it is absolutely not. “Adam” for example may only use his computer for browsing and emailing, and so the files on his system rarely change. The only significant change on his system is the cache which is flushed whenever he quits the browser. "Bob” on the other hand downloads, installs, tests, and erases a dozen game demos each month. As a result, the files on his system get extremely fragmented, causing his drive to run slower than if it were not fragmented. Finally, “Caleb” has an older system with little free space. He uses his system to create photos for work, saving often (thus overwriting the previous version of the file). As a result, when something goes wrong and the file is accidentally lost, he is out of luck because the binary file was fragmented, and so he cannot recover it. If however his system were defragged, then the file could have been easily recovered since it would have been in one piece.

That was an example of how defragmentation depends on usage. The same goes for pretty much everything else: one person may never catch a virus because they are not even connected to the Internet, they just use their system to play games, and so don’t need to back-up either. A not-rich developer may have to run system-check/repair utilities frequently because they have to test the driver they are writing on their own system (if they are not rich, they may not have enough space to run a VM). A grand-mother may need to have her system scanned for worms often because even though she only uses her system for Free-Cell and emailing her family, she does not know enough to not open every attachment. And so on…

Even with Jitendra vyas’ system, it depends on what the partitions are for. My own system for example has plenty of partitions (I’ve pretty much run out of drive letters) because I like to compartmentalize every type of file that I have. As such, my data partition where I save my own documents and creations is a good candidate for frequent defragging since it makes recovery much more effective. However, the partition where I occasionally download videos to does not need defragging much, if ever since the files are easily recoverable (just re-download them), and it would be a pain to defrag that partition since it is so big anyway. Again, the system partition is good to defrag often, especially if I, uh I mean, since I update the OS frequently. :)

The only schedulable task that does not really depend on usage is updating of software. Updating the OS, drivers, apps, and games regularly is generally a good idea. However, even then, the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” still usually applies. It may not be necessary to apply the latest, gigantic patch to that game that is working just fine. Maybe your hardware doesn’t need that driver update because the update has nothing that applies to your system. Or that app’s update changes nothing for your particular setup. (Updating the OS and security software is a good idea regardless since even though things may not change on your own system, the environment may change; for example the SPAM that you receive could become more virulent or hackers may use new, zero-day exploits to probe your system.)

Dang, that ended up much longer than I expected. Anyway, the point is that only you can prevent forest-fires. ??? I mean, only you can judge how often system-management tasks need to be run. Other than updating OS and security apps regularly (you may as well just set the auto-update function for those and not have to worry about it), other tasks depend entirely on what you do with your system.

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Anti-virus, Antispyware, Firewall, Sandbox s/w - for security

Chkdsk, Defragger - for performance

This should do it.

[UPDATE]

Actually, in a few years from now, we might not have to do any of these things to keep our machines secure. Check out the new hardware which hackers haven't been able to penetrate. It's called InZero.

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can Chkdsk increase the performance? –  metal gear solid Mar 2 '10 at 18:32
    
In a manner of speaking, yes, but it is more relevant to preventing data loss. –  Synetech Mar 3 '10 at 17:25
    
somehow my comment didn't make it but yes, it checks & fixes file inconsistencies among other corrections to keep things healthy. Better yet, there's new hardware to keep things secure, see my update. –  SoftwareGeek Mar 4 '10 at 1:15

CJM makes a good point about offsite backups. Regarding the comment about theft, simply format the external backup media using TrueCrypt with a strong key. Of course, you still lose the media, but the sensitive contents won't be accessible to anyone else.

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Most decent backup programs have an encryption option anyway, but Truecrypt is useful for other stuff. But my main concern was with the loss of data, rather than the effect of it being in evil hands... –  CJM Mar 2 '10 at 21:17
  • De fragmentation This depends greatly on your usage patterns. Some people almost never need this. Some need it as often as once/month. Once every six months should be okay.
  • Scan-disk Only do this is windows asks to do it.
  • Full system scan Assuming you mean anti-virus here. I don't run antivirus on my home machine at all, but that's not something I can recommend to everyone. For those I know who do, I still recommend they do this a little differently. Avast Antivirus (free) builds the scanner into a screen saver. It scans in the background when your screen saver comes up, so you scan more often but it gets in the way less.
  • Disk clean up I don't to this at all
  • Trojan checker Should be built into your anti-virus software.
  • malware remover Never remove malware. Once you're infected, it's too late. Rootkits are sophisticated enough and you put enough valuable information across your computer (ie online banking credentials) that if you get infected you need to wipe your machine and start over. Copy any data you care about to removable media and re-install your system.
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You could set up ccleaner to run with Windows Task Scheduler. I believe it has a command line mode. Run it every night.

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