Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've replaced explorer.exe as the default shell with steam.exe using a program called instant sheller. I don't want to run the stock firewall, and want to invoke the firewall and antivirus from the directories they are installed from to monitor them.

Will my OS get updates like a regular install of windows, and would the system be secure?

EDIT: Windows Vista updated and restarted automatically without user intervention - so that part is answered. The security side of the question still is an issue though.

add: yes, I want to know if it will be secure without running antivirus and firewall manually. And will it be secure if I run them manually.

share|improve this question

closed as not a real question by Nifle, Shiki, ChrisF, Diogo, Sathya Jul 12 '12 at 13:07

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

and what if I replace it with EventGhost application - – Saulius Jul 12 '12 at 10:16
Maybe flag this post. Someone can flag? – Saulius Jul 12 '12 at 10:17
You really need to rewrite (edit) this question. It's very hard to understand what you want. – Nifle Jul 12 '12 at 10:58
is it edited ok now? – Saulius Jul 12 '12 at 11:10
@Saulius - No, it won't be secure, you should have passive security running ALL the time. A on demand firewall is useless, on demand anti-virus is useless, not running updates WHEN they are released makes your system not secure. Furthermore updates to applications should be installed right away. – Ramhound Jul 12 '12 at 11:32

There's no real guarantee of security. I'll cover some issues and ideas, both on how to do this, and where you need to be careful about.

I notice you've missed out whether you're running the system as admin or a regular user. I could live with a system without persistant AV or Firewall as a regular user, since it would be much harder to compromise such a system (windows vista and 7 do this by default anyway with UAC. A user who can't elevate himself is even better though).

It'd also depend on your overall setup - you could offload firewall (and even AV) duties to a firewall.

Running a system like this, you need to be aware of why you are doing this, what your threat profile is, and what your risk factors are.

Most people running a stripped down system do this in an attempt to improve system performance - are you actually bottlenecked? Does 'Ricing' out your system by stripping out AV and Firewall actually make a difference? Could you, alternately simply use a lighter AV or set it to a more frugal setting while gaming? If you need to turn off AV, shell and firewall for decent performance, you might do well to consider upgrading your system, or switching your OS to windows xp or maybe 7.

Persistant AV and Firewalls don't just clean your system, they delete things as they come in - to the point where my AV kept deleting elcar test files i was making as i saved them. Its a much better solution than on demand scans. Sometimes its better to have a shield, thana sword.

Could you restrict yourself to only steam servers at your firewall? Can you lock down your system effectively? Do you have the tools and skills in place to find and deal with a system compromise?

In short, its a bad idea unless you know exactly what you're doing. There's very little that suggests turning off things like explorer to run just steam does any good. If you must set up one regular user account that way, and run a admin account with AV and firewall.

share|improve this answer
so if I start my purchased firewall manually, and also purchased antivirus it will be secure? That part I still don't understand – Saulius Jul 12 '12 at 11:43
Vista was updated automatically yesterday without running explorer shell – Saulius Jul 12 '12 at 11:47
From the point of time you start them, assuming the system hasn't already been compromised by something that would hide from the AV (like a rootkit) or would actively subvert it, or prevent it from running, maybe.Thats a very uncertain maybe. I left out updates in my answer since you found out it happens anyway. You are MUCH better off letting the firewall and AV run automatically – Journeyman Geek Jul 12 '12 at 11:48
how can I test my OS security running like that? – Saulius Jul 12 '12 at 11:49
Running a 'stripped down version' of Windows like this won't make you 'immune' from viruses and as JG has said, unless you know what you're doing it is very dangerous to run without on-access AV and passive firewall. As you have already found out, stopping the shell doesn't stop windows update - the same is true for many other things, especially AV/Firewall. 'Running the .exe' isn't enough to run the program, it has certain dependancies and modules which would be loaded first (usually as system services). – HaydnWVN Jul 12 '12 at 12:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.