Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1.3 Million Users Hacked on Sunday. Are you safe?

Sunday December 12, 2010 was another of those wake-up call stories you might hear about most don’t take seriously.  A web server for Gawker (who most average –users don’t even know of) was hacked and 1.3 million usernames and passwords were stolen from their encrypted servers.  Keep in mind, most of the users of this kind of site are technically savvy users, not people who are the normal target for people just wanting to hack your facebook profile.  If you’d like to read about the Gawker hack direct from them,  click here.

We had a user today who had an account on Gawker, not a random person, but someone we actually know and love. Using her stolen email address and password they went to Amazon.com and purchased $400.00 in presents for themselves.

Why YOU Should Care?

Hundreds of other sites, including the New York Times, CNN, CBS, Washington Post, and others use the same protocols on their web sites. ANYONE can read their material for free, but if you want to leave a comment or make a post then you first have to register with an email and a password. Most people consider their New York times password too unimportant to even think about, right? Well, suppose it was Yahoo news, or the NY Times, or any other media outlet you use to communicate with that was hacked. Now they have your email adddress, so they know what your email is, and your password to the site they just hacked. All it takes is a brief second to see if you used that same password on your email account. So let’s say my Gawker account was user@aol.com and my password was 12345678. Now they can simply go to aol.com and enter my email address and try to see if the same password works for that.  Is your email password the same as your other passwords? Guess what… you just became a target.


Who cares if they got my email password?

Don’t even think the damage stops there. Let’s assume we’re still talking about user@aol.com for a minute. So, now I go to www.aol.com and login as that person. I simply open your email and search for “password". What’s the odds that you probably saved your banking password the bank sent you when you first signed up… just in case you forgot it, right? How about your amazon password, or yahoo password? Did you ever email your husband/wife/mother/father/friend and ask them “what’s the password to  our joint bak account again?” Now they’ve stolen your password and your spouses, or friends’ too. If someone has your email, it’s a simple guess to go from there to Yahoo, Gmail, Banking, Amazon, Facebook, etc. Within less than 5 minutes they can change all your passwords, update your shipping address to their address, then start ordering stuff in your name.


Was My Password Stolen?

A company named Slate has written a program to check the database of stolen passwords to let you know if you were one of the users who were affected. Simply to go http://www.slate.com/id/2277768/ and enter your email address in the box on the page. If your email address wasn’t in the database, it will let you know you’re safe (At least from this hack attempt).

So am I safe?

Friday December 10th, 2010: The Walgreens customer database was hacked. They stole all the email addresses of every Walgreens user that had an email address listed.

Sunday December 12th, 2010: Gawker Hacked. 1.3 millions usernames AND passwords stolen. A couple hours later, a “couple hundred thousand” twitter accounts were hacked as a direct result of the information obtained from the Gawker hack.

Monday December 13th, 2010: McDonalds hacked. They got email, phone numbers, birthdays, addresses, and any other specific you shared when you signed up for coupons or whatever.


What Will Happen Now?

Well, after the people involved have sucked every financially profitable piece of information from these millions of users hacked JUST IN THE LAST WEEK, the most likely thing I would do is sell the lists to spamming companies. How valuable is a list of a half a million prescription drug shoppers to companies who want to send prescription drug spam emails? Think about it for a minute.. that’s worth millions right there!


How Can I Be Safe?

The trick to passwords (for the normal human) is keeping it REALLY simple, REALLY convenient, but yet REALLY secure.  Here’s a system I’ve used in the past that works well for any company or web site.

  • Pick a Word
  • Pick a Number (lots of web sites are requiring at least 1 number for your password)
  • Use the company/website you’re on as a reminder.

I’m going to show you an example:

My word will be “shine.” It means nothing to me and it’s short and easy to remember.

My number will be 77. That’s easy. It’s the year I was born. Not likely to forget that one right?

How we use this system:

I’ll do an example using Yahoo.

Starts with a “Y”… that’s our first code.

Shine is our word, the second part of our code.

77 is my number and yahoo has 5 letters in it, so I’m going to deduct 5 from 77 and make it 72

My password for Yahoo would be “yShine72”
First letter of the company or web site, then the code word with the first letter capitalized, then the number.

All you ever have to remember is your own little code.. no need for paper, ever.

Using this, let’s generate a password for a couple web sites to show you the trick of it.

  • Amazon.com
  • BarnesAndNoble.com
  • Progressive.com
  • Gmail.com

The passwords would be

  • a for “Amazon” + Shine +(77-6 letters)71, so the password is aShine71
  • b for “Barnes and Noble" + Shine +63, so the password is bShine63
  • p for “Progressive” + Shine + (77-11 letters for the amount of letters in Progressive)=66, so the password is pShine66.
  • g for “Gmail” + Shine +72 = gShine72

Every password is different, secure, yet you can always remember it.

Want to make it MORE complicated? Ok. Try This. If the website begins with A-M, then you subtract the number from your code number. If it begins with N-Z then you add your number to the code number. It can be as simple or as complex as you want.

Whatever you do, do NOT make your password for email the same as the one you use for generic-web sites. Keep your banking, email, and Facebook passwords completely unique as those are always the most likely targets of hackers.


A True Story:

Our user’s name is Jennifer, a good long time friend of one of our developers here at Remote247.com. Her story on Facebook was what inspired us to write this article to warn others.
Note: Jennifer is actually much smarter about computer security the average user and she got hacked too. If they got to her, they can get to you!

When I woke up yesterday, December 14, my Gmail account was locked out. I had to prove my identity to Google in order to regain access to my account. The only information they had was that they had reason to believe that my account had been compromised. I couldn't imagine how it had been, but I jumped through the hoops and had my account unlocked within the hour. Throughout the day yesterday, I received several e-mails from various sites I've joined over the years informing me that there was a request to change my password, and asking me to verify that. There were also several e-mails from websites letting me know that some of my accounts had been locked.

It was clear to me then that some account, somewhere had been broken into and that my personal information had been compromised. I did not know which account on which website, but something was compromised. I went around and changed all of my passwords on anywhere I could think of, and went about my day. Late last night, there were a batch of very well forged e-mails from a phisher trying to break into my World of Warcraft account. I would have fallen for it had I been willing to click a link about World of Warcraft in an e-mail. The headers were impeccably forged. I'm sure thousands of people lost their accounts.

This morning, I woke up to find just over $400 in goods ordered on my Amazon.com account. Fortunately, none of it had shipped yet, and I was able to cancel everything. I had a slew of e-mails from various accounts that were locked out, including my Facebook. My Gmail account was also locked out again. At around noon, I received an e-mail from Gawker Media informing me of a breach in their security. A group of hackers from 4chan broke into their system and stole the usernames, passwords and associated e-mails of their entire userbase. This was the source of my compromised accounts. I'm going to go over the remaining issues in bullet point form.

  • -I do not use the same passwords across multiple accounts. I have some passwords that are similar to one another, but they are not the same. Once the script kiddies had my username and e-mail address, they were able to obtain my passwords to other sites by brute force.
  • -I have never used any current Gawker Media site. Consumerist.com, a blog I read regularly, used to be owned by Gawker Media. They were purchased by Consumer Reports last year, and my username and password was in the Gawker system from when Consumerist was owned by them.
  • -I did everything a security expert (And common sense) would recommend for keeping your online accounts secure. Some would suggest using a different e-mail address for every single account you open, but as a general rule, it's not something that's usually done. The fault in this issue lies entirely with Gawker Media for failing to secure their servers and database to standard levels.
  • -Gawker Media was aware that they were a target of /b/ nearly a week ago. Rather than alert their userbase and lock down their systems, they ignored this. Furthermore, once the breach occurred, they failed to notify their users until over 24 hours later. It's my understanding that something was posted on their website, but I don't visit their website. It wasn't until today that they sent out an e-mail letting people know what was going on.

The lessons to learn from this is as follows:

  • -Even when you do everything you can to secure your passwords and online identity, it's ultimately up to the websites you register on to ensure that your data can be trusted. If they have lax security, any measures you take are pointless, aside from one.
  • -The only guaranteed way to keep everything online secure is to use a different e-mail address for everything you do online. Keep your bank accounts under one address, your e-mail under another, your social media accounts on another, and things you don't care about under another. This way, if one thing is breached, there's no way for a hacker to get to other things.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

HDD Plus - What it is and How to Remove it

HDD plus was first reported to us on December 8th, 2010. It is a new variant of an old virus, meaning it's got a fancy new face but does the same bad stuff the previous versions used to. You might also have been infected with this under the names Hard Drive Diagnostic, HDD Scan, Win Defragmenter, Win HDD, Check Disk, Ultra Defragger, or Quick Defragmenter.

NONE of these are what they appear to be. They are a virus, and while not horribly destructive they are definitely annoying and hard to remove.

How do I know I'm infected?


This is the image displayed on computers infected with HDD Plus. The goal of the virus is to convince you that you have some hard drive damage and then to click on any of the tools or links offered to repair the problem. None of these tools do what they say they do. Do not click on them if you haven't already!

Removal of HDD Plus

We usually make it our goal to try to give you viewers an easy way to rid yourself of these viruses. This one isn't especially hard to remove if you're not overly infected, but it does take some skill, so chances are the average user can't remove it on their own.

Why Not:
The virus always load in the same place, but not always with the same name. Different computer configurations store the temporary internet data in different folders. Without knowing which user account on your computer is infected, we couldn't easily tell you which directories to clean out.
For example the virus infects the following locations:
%TempDir%\Windows Update.exe
%Desktop%\HDD Plus.lnk
%Programs%\HDD Plus
%Programs%\HDD Plus\HDD Plus.lnk
%Programs%\HDD Plus\Uninstall HDD Plus.lnk

Doesn't look that easy to a regular computer user does it? Unfortunately it's not. However, it's a pretty standard removal for a good computer technician. If you have a technician you already rely on, print this page and give it to them with your computer when you carry it in for repair.

Having said that, here is what we can tell you.

(If you're a technically savvy user, you can remove it using this information. If this information doesn't make sense to you or you are intimidated by making system-level repairs, we suggest you contact a computer company to remove the virus for you.)

Information about HDD Plus:
-HDD Plus is usually executed in the temporary internet files directory, so if you can get those files purged, you can usually prevent the virus from loading. If it's already resident, and it probably is, we suggest rebooting into safe mode, deleting those files, then restarting in normal mode and running a malwarebytes scan. This should remove the startup entries from the registry. Spybot also seems to be able to remove it, though we haven't tested that theory ourselves.

- HDD Plus seems to prevent the task manager from loading, however it has no effect on MSCONFIG. Run MSCONFIG, uncheck the startup items launching in the temp directories on the computer, then press Apply and then perform the restart when prompted by MSCONFIG. This will allow the system to boot clean and you can then remove it as described above.

If you are NOT a technically savvy user, we suggest you consider our Remote 247 Solution for removing this virus as well as other computer needs.

How to Download and Run a Malwarebytes Scan

Malwarebytes is a great program for getting rid of malware on your computer. Notice we didn't say viruses. Malware and Viruses aren't the same thing. They have some of the same symptoms but are two different animals altogether. Most antivirus programs won't get rid of malware and malwarebytes won't get rid of viruses.

If you're reading this, you most likely have a malware infection and need to know how to use the program. We're going to walk you through the entire process (its a simple one) from beginning to end.

Any user, novice to advanced, can use this guide to remove malware from their computer using malwarebytes.

1) Visit www.malwarebytes.org


Open your internet browser and go to www.malwarebytes.org. The website should something similar to the picture above.
Click the blue box to "Download Free Version."

2) Get the file from Cnet


Malwarebytes creates the product, but they can't afford for hundreds of thousands of people to download it from their website, so they will likely redirect you to a site similar to this one shown above. That's ok. It's expected and not hard to use. Just click the green Download Now icon from CNET.

Each browser acts differently when you download a program. Follow the instructions in the next step depending on your browser.

2 a) Downloading Malwarebytes using Internet Explorer 8.0


When you visit the download page you will most likely see something like this on screen.
1) Click the blue bar at the top of the screen.
2) Click Download File
This will refresh the page and allow you to safely download the program.

2a Continued) Download the file using Internet Explorer 8.0


If you want to save the file to your computer for later, you can choose "save" and choose a location to save the file. However if you're not familar with saving files off the Internet, you can just choose RUN and the program will download and run all as one process.
Once you've done this, skip ahead to Step 3 below.

2b) Download Malwarebytes using Google Chrome


If you're running Google Chrome as your browser you are probably already familiar with how it saves files. Just in case you're not, here's what you do:
1) The download should automatically start.
2) Anytime Google Chrome downloads a file it always puts it at the bottom of your screen for easy access. Simply press Save and you will see the icon appear and start to glow with a green circle. Once that's done and it's no longer flashing green, just click the icon in your task bar (the bar at the bottom currently highlighted in red) to open the setup and skip ahead in this tutorial to Step 3.

2c) Download Malwarebytes using Mozilla Firefox


If you're using this browser, there's a good chance you're a fairly savvy internet user so you'll already know what to do here. Simply press Save and then open the program once the download is complete.
Skip to Step 3 in this tutorial next.

3) Installing Malwarebytes


Whether you saved the program or ran it from your internet browser, you'll be prompted with this screen.
Press OK.

Note: Starting at this point all you're going to do is either click the Next button with your mouse 8 times or just press the Enter Key 8 times. If you don't want to be bored with the details, just press Enter 8 times and skip ahead to Step 12.

4) Welcome to the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Setup Wizard


Just press Next.

5) Accept the License Agreement


1) Choose "I accept the agreement" by clicking the box beside it.
2) The press Next.

6) Read more info


Just press Next again.

7) Select Destination Location


Just press Next again.

8) Select Start Menu Folder


Just press Next again.

9) Select Additional Tasks


Just press Next again.

10) Ready to Install


You're finally ready. Press Install to continue.

11) Installing


This is the progress you should see as the program installs. No need to press anything here.

12) Setup is Complete


You have now successfully installed Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
1) Check the box to Update the program.
2) Check the box to Launch the program.
3) Then press Finish

13) Running updates


New viruses and new malware are created each day. Malwarebytes keeps a "dictionary" (for lack of a better word) of bad programs, trojans, and malware back at it's server located on the web.

Right now your program is calling back home and asking for all the updated new programs and malware versions that have been released since the program was created a couple of months ago so it knows what to look for when it scans your computer.

Pretty neat if you think about it... just wait until it finishes. Depending on your internet connection it could take up to 2 minutes or so.

14) Updates Complete


Apparently there were some updates available for our installation, even though we only downloaded the program 15 minutes ago for the first time. Now malware bytes knows all about the new malware and can scan your computer for infections. Press OK to continue.

15) Getting Ready to Run your First Scan


Ok. Pay close attention here. There a few tricks to make this go faster and smoother, so we'll show them to you.
1) Perform a Quick Scan first by making sure that button is checked and pressing Scan (highlighted above).
Why? There are literally millions of files on your computer, but only a few hundred thousand are being accessed at any one time normally. If a program is "running" it's considered to be "in memory" or active right now. A quick-scan ignores most of the files on your computer and concentrates on files that are actively in use and on your registry. If a piece of malware is actively causing you problems, then it's running right now and this will find it quickly. A quick scan will take from 5 minutes up to an hour. A Full Scan will take hours to run, even on a fast computer.

Once you complete the quick scan your computer will probably have found some malware to remove.

16) Scan Completed


This is what a scan looks like when it has completed if Malware was found on your computer.
1) Press OK to close the information window.
2) Press Show Results to see what was found and prepare to remove it.

17) Infections Found. Now To Remove Them


This is an example of what your screen would look like if Malwarebytes detects malware on your computer.

There are three important pieces of information here you want to know and another step that might make things easier if you DO have to call a computer technician.

1) The name of the Trojan, Malware, or other bug. This is the "Brand" of the infection.
2) What it has infected. Did it infect a fie on your computer or did it infect the registry? (the brain of the computer).
3) Where exactly in the computer is the infection located?
4) Saving a log file to your desktop will create a text copy of EVERYTHING it located and deleted, so you can refer back to it later if there's still problems.

Once you're ready, press Remove Selected and it will start cleaning the files from your system.

Note: In our experience Malwarebytes hasn't ever removed a needed system file. It's done great for us for for our customers at only deleting files that are causing problems. It is our opinion that you can safely remove ANYTHING it tells you is infected.


18) Restarting the Computer


Once Malwarebytes has removed the infections it will want to reboot the computer. This means your computer will restart WITHOUT all these infected files slowing it down or causing problems. We strongly suggest you reboot at this time.
Simply press Yes to reboot immediately.

19) After Restarting (You're not done yet)


Once you've restarted your computer, open Malware Bytes one more time. Now we're going to run a FULL scan. You do everything exactly the same as on Steps 15-18 except you choose Full Scan not Quick Scan.

Well your infection came from somewhere, right? Smart viruses and trojans don't actually infect you themselves. Instead they are hidden somewhere deep in your system and lie quietly most of the time. Every once in a while they wake up, create a copy of themselves and hide it in your system where it will execute again, then they go back to sleep. These are knows as self-replicating infections. Another kind of infection is a "morphing" infection.

Morphing infections actually copy themselves contiuously, each time giving themselves a new name, and creating more and more copies of themselves in the system. They operate just like a cancer infection, spreading throughout the computer's file system.

Running a full scan of your computer will scan every single file on the computer, but it's going to take quite awhile. Usually we suggest running this one at night before you go to bed, then coming back in the morning to see the results.



Additional Note about Antivirus Scanners.


Once you start running malware bytes you might also start seeing your Antivirus program start to go crazy as well. Here's why:
Your antivirus program scans most of the time for common threats but not ALL the time, or your computer would be slowed down too much. That's why it performs scheduled scans, usually at night.

Malwarebytes is now actively opening every single file on the computer. (Think of it as some stranger sneaking in your office and rifling through EVERY file you have in your entire office or house.)
This kind of activity makes your antivirus wake up and go check on what's going on. (Think of a security guard coming in and flicking on the light switch and yelling "Hey! What are you doing in here?")
Malwarebytes just ignores your antivirus and continues to search through files, looking for infections and paying no attention to your antivirus program.
Your antivirus program starts to look at what Malwarebytes was doing and stops and says ( "Oh.. look at that. That's an infection. Crap. How could I have missed that in my sweep? I'd better get that outta here before the boss finds out!!")

If you get these kinds of popups (like the one shown above) it's up to you to either A) Let malwarebytes remove the infection when it's done or B) let your antivirus program remove the infection right now while it's noticing it.
If you choose to let your antivirus program remove the infection, malwarebytes might report an error when it tries to remove the infection itself because between the time it located it and the time it reported back to you, you had already deleted the infected file. That's ok and won't cause any problems. Just as long as your computer is cleaned up! That's the goal here.

We hope you have found this tutorial helpful! If you like what you've seen here, please leave a comment! We enjoy knowing other have found the material useful!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How to Install Windows XP (Home or Pro) The Easy Way

This guide is designed to walk you through the installation of Windows XP Home or Pro version. There have been hundreds of updates to Windows XP since its initial release eleven years ago, so we are going to cover all the steps to get you updated to today's current version. Relax and don't be intimidated. If you have a CD-Rom of your XP installation and a computer, you can do this!


In this guide we will cover the following:
-Installing the operating system
-Running your first System Updates
-Installing Internet Explorer 8
-Running Internet Explorer 8 for the first time.
-Enabling your Quick Launch
-Disabling Accessibility Controls

1) The ONLY hard step in this guide.

The only difficult portion of reinstalling your computer is the very first one, because it's different for different computers. Dell computers use a different key than HP computers, as does Toshiba, Sony, and the rest.

Whether you're installing a computer for the first time that you custom built or whether you're an average user just trying to reinstall your computer to save paying a computer company, the computer acts the very same. When a computer turns on it naturally is programmed to boot to its hard drive. Well, assuming your hard drive was damaged or isn't currently working properly, you can't boot that way so you need to boot to your Windows CD-Rom. How do I do that? It's simple enough really. We're going to put the disc in the computer, turn it on, and tell the computer to boot to a different device just this one time.

If the computer is turned on: Put your Windows XP CD in the CD-Rom drive and press and hold the power button until the computer turns all the way off.
If the computer is turned off: Press the power button to turn it on. Then immediately press the button to open your CD-Rom tray. Put the Windows XP CD-Rom in the tray and turn the computer back off.

Hint: If you press the power button and nothing happens, you're not holding it long enough. If you press and hold ANY computer's power button for 8 seconds, it will automatically cut the power and turn itself off.

2a) Turn the computer on by pressing the power button and watch for the Boot menu. (Dell)


The above example shows a Dell computer's boot screen. Look for the text outlined in red above. To access the boot menu on a dell, you have to press F12. Once this black screen goes away its too late to press it. You need to press it while you're still seeing the Dell logo and this screen.

2b) Turn the computer on by pressing the power button and watch for the Boot menu. (HP Computers)


This example shows that you need to press F9 to access the boot menu, as opposed to the Dell above that says press F12.

Press the button that corresponds to whichever computer you have. If you don't have either an HP or a Dell, your first screen should tell you what button to push.
After you push the button you'll be taken to a screen similar to the following. (It may be a tiny bit different but the options will be the same)

3) Select the CD-Rom Drive


No matter what your screen looks like, it's going to be similar to the one above. Notice I used the arrow keys to select the CD-DVD Rom Drive. Then I press Enter to to go the next step.
HINT: Your computer may have more or less drives than the one shown in the example. Regardless how many you have, just choose the CD or DVD option. This will make the computer ignore the hard drive and go to the disc you inserted in step 1.

4) Press Any Key


You will usually see a screen like this. It's just asking you to confirm that you actually intended to boot using the CD-Rom drive. Press any key on the keyboard to verify and go to the next step.

5) Pre-Setup


The CD-Rom you inserted contains some code to tell the computer what to do next. At this point it's creating a temporary miniature space on your hard drive to allow you to continue. Notice the gray information bar at the bottom that says "Setup is loading...". Once this is done the screen will automatically change. You don't have to press anything here.

6) Getting ready to begin setup


At this point you still haven't made any changes to your computer. Notice the blue box above says I'm working with Windows XP Home. Yours might say Windows XP Professional. Either way doesn't matter.
If you are ready to start installing your computer, follow the prompt above and press ENTER as instructed.

7) Press F8 to continue


This is just the screen that tells you your legal obligations about your computer. The status bar instructs you to press F8 to agree. Press F8 and go on to the next step.

8) Choose where to install the operating system.


95 times out of 100, you're going to just choose the highlighted option here. Basically the CD-Rom is looking at what's inside your computer and saying "Hi, where do you want me to put this Windows XP thingy I'm about to install? I happen to know that I have a 10 gigabyte hard drive in this computer, so I can tell that the highlighted option is correct. Yours will say something different, but just select the option that has the C: beside it. Use the UP or DOWN arrows to select the appropriate place to install Windows XP and then press Enter.

9) Format the drive.


Formatting the drive is like setting the table before dinner. Basically it wipes everything off the hard drive and prepares it to be given a new operating system. You can realistically choose any of these options above, but I always choose the option you see above titled "Format the partition using the NTFS file system." Press Enter to continue. This process will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour depending on your computer and how big your hard drive is.

Useless trivia
Older operating systems such as WIndows 95 and 98 used the Fat32 file system. It's an older type of filing structure. The basic reasons to choose NFTS are because:
-FAT32 Drives get slower as they get more full of information,
-FAT32 Drives don't support encryption of your data.
-Fat32 drives can't read any hard drive over 137 gigabytes. Most hard drives today are a minimum of 250 to 500, with 1000-2000 GB drives being very common for less than a hundred bucks.
-If you choose option2, NFTS with "Quick" the computer doesn't scan the hard drive for bad sectors. Consider your hard drive like an old Vinyl record.. that's actually exactly what it looks like. The option we've highlighted above goes through and examines each and every groove in the record and makes sure it's in good shape with no scratches or defects. If it finds a defect, it marks it and remembers not to use that spot on the drive.

12) Are you sure?


You just told the computer to format that drive. Format means Wipe EVERYTHING off there so I can start from scratch. This means if you had any pictures or documents on the hard drive before, they will be erased completely. Normally this is what you want if you're performing this step anyway, so just press F to continue.

13) Wait for it to finish.


As we told you a few steps back, this might take 5 minutes or it might take an hour. You don't need to do anything here.

14) Keep waiting and watching


Just keep an eye on the progress indicator. Don't worry if it appears to stay on the same percentage for a few moments. If it gets hung on any percentage for more than 30 minutes there's something wrong and you need to start over with step 1.
Likely problems could be:
-A scratch on your CD-Rom
-A damaged sector on your hard drive that the program can't access, but it doesn't know that.
-Another hardware problem we can't determine from here.

15) Format Done. Still Waiting.


OK the format is done and now the program has gone on to start the install process. Your hard drive is empty, so it's going to take a few minutes to copy all the necessary programming from the CD to your computer's hard drive. The grey status indicator will keep you informed about what's going on.

16) Copying Files. Still waiting.


Now you see another progress indicator informing you that the process to copy the files over has begun. Just hang out and wait. This part usually takes from 5 to 10 minutes.

17) Reboot

Once completed, your computer will reboot automatically and begin the actual installation using the new files it's copied to your hard drive. You do NOT need to press any keys or do anything to assist at this point. In fact, go make a hot-pocket and have a cup of coffee. You're probably already stressed out enough as it is. Watching this screen won't make it go any faster. :)

18) Installation Truly Begins.


Once all the files are copied over to your hard drive, your computer no longer needs the CD-Rom. You can leave it in the tray, but you'll be working from your new drive from this point on.

19) Tell the computer where you are and what language you speak.


Now you have the option to change some defaults. You probably won't want to, but if you wanted to change your language from English to Spanish, or your currency from Dollars to Rubles, you would press the Customize button. Since we're assuming you are english-speaking and live in the United States, we're gonna skip all that and just press Next.

20) Tell the computer who you are.


This isn't the part where you choose your username. This is the part where you tell the computer who it belongs to and what company owns it. After you set this here, the computer will always use this value as the default to register new software in the future.

21) Enter your own information


We are going to say our user is John Doe and he works for a place called "My Company." You enter whatever details you wish here and press Next.

22) Enter your COA


Each copy of Windows sold comes with a COA. Basically it's a sticker with a 25 digit code made of numbers and letters. If you bought your Windows XP disc from a store, this sticker will be on the sleeve the CD was in. If you bought a Dell or HP or other branded model computer, the sticker will have been peeled off and affixed to your computer somewhere, usually on the side or back. If it's a laptop or netbook, the sticker is on the back.

Enter your code and press Next.


-You don't need to press any keys to change fields. As you type the 5th character the cursor will automatically jump to the next box.
-The COA is NOT case sensitive, so you can use either upper or lowe case letters.
- You do NOT have to enter your COA now if you can't find it. You will be allowed to run Windows for 30 days, during which time the computer will prompt you every so often to enter it. If you don't have it after that time, it won't work at all anymore.

23) Name your Computer


Believe it or not, this actually IS an important step,especially if you plan to have networked computers in your home where you share files back and forth. Your computer name can be 15 characters long, can NOT contain spaces or other characters, just numbers and letters.
A good computer name would be something like JohnDesktop or SallyLaptop or if you only have one computer in the house just put Desktop.
Once you're done, press Next.


23b) Example


Since our pretend user only has this one computer, we chose to call it simply "Desktop"

If you had a home network (meaning more than 1 computer in your house) you can share files together. To do that you usually type a command like "\\Desktop". I can remember my computer is called Desktop, but if I'd used the sample default I'd have to remember that my computer network command is "\\MY-E0606822EEA6".. which I'd never remember.

24) Set your time zone and verify your clock is set right.


It's important to be sure this information is correct for a bunch of technical reasons I won't go into here, but it's simple to verify. You will note that ALL computers come defaulted to GMT-8 Pacific time. Why is that when you might live on the east coast? Well, because Microsoft made the operating system and they're located in Washington state, which is... you guessed it; Pacific Time. Press the Down Arrow to select your time zone and press Next.

25) Now you can go take another break.


Your computer now has enough information to continue setting up on its own for a few minutes. You can take a break while the installation continues for a bit.

26) Setup your Internet and Network


If your computer is on a wired network, be sure it's already plugged in. If it is, Windows can setup the internet now for you instead of being an aggravation later on. If you're on wireless, you can still most likely perform this step if you can plug into your wireless router. (Yes, it has plugs on the back to do wired AND wireless setup.) This guide assumes you DO have internet access, but if you don't you can still follow through on the setup. You just can't complete the other functions listed later on. However, you can still get the computer up and running just fine without internet access.

The screen here shows you the default option of "Typical Settings." Most of you will just press Next here. If you want to customize your setting, the next screen shows you what it would look like.

26b) Custom Internet Settings


If you chose Custom Settings at the previous screen, this is what you would see next. Assuming you are a home user on a basic cable or DSL or Wireless internet package, you won't need to customize anything here. However if you're running WIndows XP Professional in an office environment with a domain controller, you would enter your IP information here. However, if you're on a domain controller (another computer that controls your computer) you probably have an in-house IT guy anyway and you're gonna be in BIG trouble for doing this on your own! lol.

27) Wait Some More


Once you pressed Next on the internet setting step your computer will resume its final steps of the installation. You can wait while it completes as there's nothing to do yet.

28 )Video Settings


The computer has now just started its custom configuration, the part where it customizes things to your particular computer. At this point it has probed through your system to determine what kind of monitor you have, what kind of video card you have, what kind of cables you've got connected, and is now going to adjust itself to what it believes is your optimal viewing experience. Just press OK (or hit Enter) to see the effect.

29) Confirm Video Settings


This is the video confirmation screen. Your computer has decided that based on your hardware, this is how the screen looks best. If it looks fine to you, just press OK.
If you are not able to see this screen:
-Don't panic. The screen will change back to what it was like before after 30 seconds. If you haven't pressed anything the computer assumes there must be a problem and you can't see the box correctly enough to read it, so it switches back.
-If your screen text appears REALLY BIG don't fret. Apparently your Windows disc either can't recognize your video card properly or can't recognize your monitor properly. Either way you will be able to correct this setting later on once you're up and running.

30) First Real Boot


The next step you should see is the Windows XP Logo. This means your computer has now copied everything over to your hard drive from the CD-Rom, has gotten all the information it needs to be able to program itself, and it's about to start that process next.

31) Press Next


This is just the welcome message. Press next to start customizing your new Windows XP computer.

-Anytime you see a letter underlined, like the "N" in the word Next on this example, that's telling you that you don't need to use the mouse to click it if you don't want to. You can simply press the letter on the keyboard that corresponds to the highlight and it will perform the command for you. Try it by just pressing N instead of pressing it with your mouse.

32) Press Next (if you see this screen)


Depending on your version of Windows you might or might not see this screen. I created this demo using Windows XP version N, meaning there isn't any media player software preinstalled. You most likely won't have a screen like this, but if you do, just press Next to continue.

33) Setup Automatic Updates


Notice the Next box is grayed out now. You can't proceed until you choose either YES, or NO to turning on Automatic Updates.

What are Automatic Updates:
Windows XP was released for sale to the public in stores for the first time on October 25th, 2001. In the ten years since it came out there have literally been THOUSANDS of updates made by Microsoft, some of them minor updates, and other more major updates. The Major updates are often bundled together and called Service Packs. These updates are indeed important to protect your computer for a couple reasons.

Some of those are:
-Someone discovered a bug in 2002, so microsoft wrote an update to fix the bug. If you don't get the updates your computer will always be susceptible to that particular bug. (often called Exploits, or security holes in the system)
-Something major has changed in the way people need to use computers. The internet is changing daily and since most users rely on the internet, certain updates need to be made to make sure you can continue to use all the features offered by some web sites.
-Software compatibility. Let's use an example: Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks, are using a new technology invented in 2008. Your computer's programming was invented in 2001. Quickbooks can either NOT use the new technology, which makes their program run better and faster and makes it easier to use, OR they can ask Microsoft to make a change so that older XP computers can utilize the new Quickbooks.

This happens almost weekly in the modern world. There are hundreds of updates each year and if you don't have them, your computer won't be able to do the things others can. So, in short, it is my recommendation that you check the top option above, then press next.

34) Checking your Internet Connectivity


Since we already told the computer in Step 26 that it could go on the Internet, it's going to go online on it's own real quick and check in with Microsoft to see if there's anything important it needs to know. You can Skip this step by pressing Skip, but it only takes 1 minute so you can just wait for it to complete and press Next.

35) How are you connected?


What to press here:
If you are NOT on the Internet at all, press SKIP.
If you are connected to a wireless router, or are part of a home network, Select YES above then press Next. (This is the normal option for most people)
If you are DIRECTLY CONNECTED to internet (and you're probably not) then select NO and press Next t continue.

36) Activate Windows


Activating Windows is a required step, so you might as well do it now if you're connected to the Internet. Just choose the "Yes, Activate Windows over the Internet now" option and press Next. If you aren't connected to the Internet, you can just choose "No, remind me every few days" and then press Next.

Reminder: You will only be able to use the computer for 30 days before you absolutely have to Activate. Otherwise Microsoft assumes you are using a stolen copy of Windows XP and will prevent you from being able to use it until you either activate or purchase a new copy.

37) Register with Microsoft


I personally always skip this step. Basically this just gives them your name and email address and tells them that you own a copy of their software, which means they'll email you from to time. I already get enough email without the extra. Choose either preference on the menu above and press Next.

38) Create your Account


This is to tell the computer who you are. Whatever name(s) you put in here will be the usernames for the computer. If there's just one of you, simply enter your name in the first box and press Next.

If you want each of your family members to have an account, you can enter all the names in your family and they can each have a user account, their own documents, their own pictures, their own favorites, etc.

Your preference here depends on your needs and your personal desires for privacy. If you all share one account, then your browsing histories, documents, and photos are shared, which you might or might not consider a good thing.

38b) Keep it Simple


Avoid complicated or long usernames. You can use your name, like the example above, or you can use something like "Mom, Dad, or Family" as the username. Just try to avoid a lot of special characters. Keep it simple. There are security reasons for this, but that's a subject for another how-to on another day.
Enter your name(s) and press Next.

39) Thank You!


Ok, this is the last step before you start using the computer. Press Finish to close out the install wizard and begin using your computer.

40) Welcome to Windows


You should now see this screen while your computer loads up for the first time.
Hint: If you don't see this screen, remove the CD from your tray and restart again.

41) You're In


Now we can see your desktop and we're in business. You CAN stop here if you'd like, but if you're connected to the Internet there are a few more steps you might want help with. Read on for more details.

42) Let's Get Updated


Remember, it's at least December of 2010 if you're reading this and your computer is running on programming from October of 2001. How about we get some updates going and get your computer caught up to speed.
You have to be connected to the internet for this part to work.

Press Start
Press All Programs
Press Windows Update (at the top of the menu) to get started.

43) Getting Ready to Update


See that annoying little "Take a tour of Windows XP" box on the bottom right of your screen? That's going to pop up every single time you start the computer if you don't click that little X in the corner. Click it now and let's go on.

If you're connected to the Internet, your computer will automatically launch Internet Explorer when you press Windows Update and will go to http://www.update.microsoft.com

44) What kind of updates do you want?


This screen might confuse you, but don't sweat it. If you're the technical geeky type you might want to press "Custom" to choose what updates to install. If you're a normal user you can just press "Express" and the web site will automatically give you the important updates you definitely NEED and leave out some of the optional stuff you don't necessarily want.

Use your mouse and click the "Express" button to continue.

45) Checking for updates


Your computer literally already has over 500 programs pre-installed, even though most of them aren't ones you can use. Most of them are system programs or drivers for some of your hardware. This screen tells you the web site is taking an inventory of what you already have, then comparing it to the list of updated things it knows about that you might need.

46) Security Warning


The first time you ever use the Internet to send data (like you're doing now) you will be greeted with this prompt. It just warns you "when you send informaiton to the internet, it might be possible for others to see that information. Do you want to continue?" Press "YES" and go on. You can't possibly use the internet AT ALL without sending data. Otherwise it would be the AloneNet, not the Internet.

if you don't see the warning here it just means you've already done some web browsing and you had to click it some other time before you got to this step. No worries.

47) Updating the Windows Updater


Yep, you read that title right.. even the updater needs to be updated. A few years ago Microsoft changed their update program to a nicer and more stable version. You'll to replace the updater on your computer with the new one before you can actually get the updates. Press the "Download and Install Now" button to continue.

48) Your first update. What is Windows Genuine Advantage Validation?


You'll notice here, and this is purely for informational purposes, not part of the info you need to know, there are two updates going on. The first is called Windows Genuine Advantage. The second is the update for the windows updater you just chose on the previous step. This is where Microsoft got sneaky! Just wait until this screen goes away and then you can continue.

What is the Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool?
In November of 2005 (four years after the release of Windows XP) Microsoft had finally had enough of people stealing their software without paying for it. Hacked versions of windows were everywhere on the Internet, freely available for anyone who knew how to download them. After losing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales revenue, they implemented WGA (or Windows Genuine Advantage). Has a nice name doesn't it? Well, it's actually quite a nice package for a nasty little trick. This little program is the reason you have to "Activate" Windows now online. You didn't used to have to do that.

If you want to read the official report of what WGA is, you can do so here.

The short answer is:
As a solution to stop counterfeit copies of Windows XP, Vista, 7, and Office from being distributed on the Internet, Microsoft created WGA. Basically it looks at your hard drive, your motherboard, your memory, your processor, and your serial key (that 25 digit code you entered earlier in this tutorial) and it generates a really long complicated unique fingerprint for your computer.
Here is an example of a WGA Activation String that your computer sends to Microsoft when it creates your unique fingerprint.
<GenuineResults><MachineData><UGUID>{63FD543D-B32E-4905-AB46-178942722DEC}</UGUID><Version>1.9.0027.0</Version><OS>5.1.2600.2.00010300.2.0.hom</OS><Architecture>x32</Architecture><PKey>*****-*****-*****-*****-4C8MT</PKey><PID>76477-OEM-2111907-00102</PID><PIDType>2</PIDType><SID>S-1-5-21-725345543-606747145-682003330</SID><SYSTEM><Manufacturer>XFX68L</Manufacturer><Model>XFX Nforce 680i LT</Model></SYSTEM><BIOS><Manufacturer>Phoenix Technologies, LTD</Manufacturer><Version>6.00 PG</Version><SMBIOSVersion major="2" minor="4"/><Date>20080122000000.000000+000</Date><SLPBIOS>Dell System,Dell Computer,Dell System,Dell System</SLPBIOS></BIOS><HWID>E81233870184807A</HWID><UserLCID>0409</UserLCID><SystemLCID>0409</SystemLCID><TimeZone>GMT Standard Time(GMT+00:00)</TimeZone><iJoin>0</iJoin><SBID><stat>3</stat><msppid></msppid><name></name><model></model></SBID><OEM/><GANotification/></MachineData><Software><Office><Result>109</Result><Products/><Applications/></Office></Software></GenuineResults>

Once you have run WGA for the first time, or activated your computer, microsoft now keeps that string of code in a digital vault. If another person tried to use your copy of Windows on another computer, it would already have your key and your fingerprint. It would compare the serial number of that person's key to your key and know it was already installed on another computer, so that second person couldn't Activate. This means they either have to stop using Windows or have to purchase their own copy from Microsoft.

Do I HAVE to have WGA?
Yes. Even if you chose not to install it now, it would bug you every time you ran an update for the rest of your life. And as soon as you tried to install Service Pack2, or Service Pack 3, or Office, or Windows Live, it would require WGA to run any of these anyway. Basically, if you're not willing to prove you have a valid licensed copy, they're going to stop allowing you to use the computer until you prove it to them.

So, in short, if you're running a copy of windows off a CD-ROM that's written with a sharpie on a burned disc.. be careful. The fine if you're caught can be as high as $20,000.00 per violation. In comparison it seems pretty easy to just purchase a valid license for less than a hundred dollars from Microsoft.
Ok.. back to your install now...

49) Back to Updating


Ok, now that you've updated your updater, you can continue and actually get the updates you need. Press the Continue button on your screen.

50) Select the Updates and Install Them


Since you chose Express back on Step 44, these are the updates Microsoft has said this computer needs. You can scroll through them and read details or you can just press Install Updates.

51) Updates that require acceptance.


Some of the updates you're going to install will require you to accept the new terms of the agreement. You already did this WAY BACK on Step 7, but those were written back in 2001. This particular one you're seeing here is for an update released on November 2010. Just press I Accept and it will continue with the download.

52) Wait Some More


You can see from my progress screen that I'm currently downloading update 7 of a total of 74. Once this is finished the program will say "Installing " instead of "Downloading" another 74 times. Your computer will not necessarily have the same number of updates that mine does. Some will have more, some will have less, depending on how old your Windows XP CD-Rom was.

53) Repeat the Process


Some updates are going to require you to restart your computer. If they do, you'll see an option to "Restart Now." Press the Restart Now button and the computer will reboot.
Once it has rebooted, I suggest you continue this step of pressing Start, All Programs, Windows Update and choosing "Express" from the on-screen menu until there are no more updates to install.

Example: (I'm going to use fictional numbers here) In 2005 they released Update Number 123456. Well in 2006 they realized that caused a problem and so they released updates ABC, 123, and DEF. Well you don't need those updates unless you already have update 123456, so the computer won't know to give you those updates until you have already installed 123456 and then checked for updates again.
This means you might download 74 updates the first time, then 5 the next time, then 247 the third time, etc. Eventually you will have ALL the possible updates to your computer and THEN you can start installing software and be confident that you're as updated as you can possibly be.

54) Internet Explorer 8


One the express downloads you're going to get is a newer version of Internet Explorer 8. If you just installed your computer, you had Internet Explorer 7. The newer version is more stable, uses less resources, and has some custom options you can choose. At some point in time during your Windows Update experience you will see this screen above. Check the box beside "I want to help" or "I do not want to participate" and then press "Install to confirm that you want to update to Internet Explorer 8.

55) Accept the Terms for Internet Explorer 8


Just like in Steps 7 and 51, this program too has new terms you have to accept before you are allowed to install it. You can choose to read them if you want, or not. Just press I Accept to continue.

56) To Update or Not to Update


I'm not even sure why they bothered to give us users the option for this, but you have the option either have Internet Explorer automatically update itself, or not. The default is to install updates. Just keep the box checked and press Next.

57) Finishing Internet Explorer 8 Setup


Once you've pressed next, you can sit back a few minutes while it downloads the updated files from the Microsoft servers. This should take between 1 to 5 minutes depending on the speed of your computer.

58) Resuming Updates


Once Internet Explorer has completed it's update, you will resume installing the other updates. This process is automated so you don't need to press anything at this time either.

59) Restarting After Updates


You will notice this screen throughout the life of your computer. Sometimes after you perform updates you will have to restart. Other times you won't. It depends on whether the update involved working with files the system is currently using. For example you computer can't delete Internet Explorer 7 and replace it with Internet Explorer 8 while you're still using version 7. So it therefore prompts you to restart so it can complete the update process after it reboots. Whenever you see this screen you CAN choose Close and just restart later, however I do not suggest running anymore updates until you have restarted the computer. Refer back to the hint on Step 53 to find out why this is if you're curious.
Press Restart Now to Continue.

60) The restarting process.


I'm only mentioning this for those that might have an error here. Once you've pressed Restart Now the computer will close all your open programs and then you will see two screens. This is the first screen, notifying you it is logging off your user account. You don't need to press anything here. Just watch and wait until it comes back up.

61) The "actual" shutdown


This message informs you all programs are closed, all users are logged off, and the computer is shutting all the way down. Nothing you can press on keyboard has any affect at this point, so just wait a couple more seconds and the computer will restart on its own.

Remember, after the computer restarts, press Start, All Programs, Windows Update to be sure there are NO MORE updates left you can possibly run. Once you've run them all, you can refer to the next step for a few small system tweaks if you choose.

62) Using Internet Explorer 8 for the first time


Once you have installed Internet Explorer 8, you should be checking for more updates, right?
The next time you open your Internet browser you will be greeted with a first time setup screen. For some reason people keep pressing "Ask Me Later" and I don't know why. This screen is going to come up every single time you launch Internet Explorer 8 until you finally go through the wizard. It's easy so just follow along with the next few steps. Press "Next"to begin.

63) Customizing Internet Explorer 8


Let me give you a tiny bit of history. Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 was the worst browser they ever invented. Compared to others it was clunky, slow, bloated, and performed poorly next to rivals such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. After awhile Microsoft was starting to really lose Internet Explorer users because people started using free competitors (such as Chrome and Firefox) instead of the browser that came with their computer.

It should be stated clearly that the author of this post most definitely prefers NOT to use Internet Explorer 8 compared to using Google Chrome, but there are certain sites on the web that you absolutely can not view without Internet Explorer, so you might as well have it tuned up and running right.

These next few instructions are designed to make Internet Explorer 8 run at it's fastest and with the least amount of power and processor required. Feel free to choose settings different than we have chosen here. This part of the tutorial is merely our opinion provided to you if you want the extra advice.

Suggested Sites:
Suggested sites is just what it sounds like. Based on the sites you visit and the history in your browser, Microsoft will suggest sites you think they might like. My personal preference is to check the box beside "No, Don't Turn On" and then press next.

64) Choose Your Settings


Internet Explorer likes to use Microsoft services for everything whenever given the option, and we personally don't want all that extra junk added to our browser, so we're going to suggest choosing "Choose Custom Settings" and then Press Next.

65) Choosing your default search provider


This tells us our default search engine is Live Search. I prefer to use Google.com for my searches, so I'm going to choose the second option and press Next.

If you want to change your default search engine to AOL, Yahoo, or another service, choose the same thing we did and follow on. You will just choose your personal preference when we get to that step.

66) Search Provider Updates


There are some impressive things happening with the search providers right now and if you're the kind to have an interest in that (like we are) choose "Yes, I want to download updates" and anytime there is a change to your search provider's technology, the update will automatically be available to you without any work on your part. Choose your preference either way and press Next.

67) Accelerators


These offer some neat features but it's like driving your car with the air conditioning on at full power, the headlights on, wipers on, while driving uphill pulling a house... it just takes too much power away from the car. The same is true with the internet browser. Internet Explorer is already "heavy" compared to the other lightweight faster browsers, so we're definitely not going to weigh it down with more stuff. We chose Turn off all Accelerators that are included with Internet Explorer. Make your own personal choice and press Next.

68) Smart Screen Filter


This is like a basic low-grade antivirus and malware tool for your browser. It allows your computer to check the validity of some web sites against a database kept by Microsoft containing a list of BAD sites. So, it helps you surf more safely. I'd say it's worth keeping for our purposes. Make your selection and press Next.

69) Compatibility Settings


Some websites don't take advantage of the new coding technologies out there. Therefore some older sites might not look right to a fancy new browser like Internet Explorer 8. Compatibility view lets you see these sites the way they were intended. We've personally had quite a few web sites that make use of this feature so I'd definitely turn it on. Then press Finish.

70) Adding that Search Provider we talked about earlier


Now that you've finished up with your settings, it's time to go change that default search provider like we mentioned earlier. Internet Explorer 8 has been kind enough to already open the page for us, but it's behind a tab so you can't see it yet.

Tabs: Internet Explorer uses tabs to allow you to view multiple web sites within the same screen. It's a really great feature if you like to open three or four sites at once and refer back and forth. Here's how you use tabs:

71) Closing out a tab.


The red box indicates tabs above. You see in our example there are three tabs open. We really don't care about this page that's currently open, so you can close this individual tab by pressing the SMALL X inside the small red highlighted portion. Pressing the big red X in the upper right of the page will close ALL your pages, rather than just the tab you're looking at.

72) Adding your search provider.


You can see we only have two tabs open now, one of which is the screen where we choose the search provider we want. We clicked on Google and the following box pops up on-screen.

72b) Continued


If you look closer, we've checked the option to make this our default search tab, as well as the Use Search suggestions from this provider. Once you check both boxes on your preferred search engine, press Add.

73) Search Provider Changed to Google (or your preference)


How do you know it's changed? Look in the upper right side of your browser. The area is highlighted in red above in the example. Notice the search provider box now says Google instead of Live Search (see step 72 for an example of how it looked before).
Now, rather than having to go to Google.com and THEN searching the web. We can just type what we want to search for in this box at any time and it will perform a Google Search for us.

You can set this box to search any number of search providers by pressing the small arrow our red arrow points to and choosing "Find more providers..." from the drop-down menu that appears.

74) Closing out of Internet Explorer


Well, we're done here on this section and we're ready to close the window. Out of habit we always click the big red X in the top corner. Internet Explorer is smart enough to ask us "Hey, do you really want to close ALL your open tabs, or just the one you're looking at?" You will only see this message when you have more than 1 tab open at a time. Press Close All Tabs to close Internet Explorer Completely.

75) Enabling Quick launch


Quick Launch is a feature already turned on in all Windows Vista and Windows 7 computers, but it's not turned on by default in Windows XP. It has been our experience that it's a very useful place to store icons for our most commonly used programs.
How to turn it on:
Pay close attention to where my mouse is located in the example above. Put your mouse over the task bar (that blue bar at the bottom of you screen) and be sure not to put it over an area that's filled by a program. Just pick an empty spot on the blue bar.
RIGHT-CLICK the mouse (not left click)

75b) Continued


Once you right-click, you will see this menu. Slide your mouse UP to where it says Toolbars, then slide right and down and LEFT CLICK on Quick Launch. Use the screenshot above to see where it's at if you're having trouble.

76) Done


See the two new icons that appeared? Now you can quickly open Internet Explorer or go back to your desktop without having to resort to all the mouse clicks it usually takes to accomplish the same task. You can drag any number of Icons from your desktop to this area to put your favorite programs on the Quick Launch.

Example of our Quick Launch Area


You can see in the example above that I keep about 6 programs in my Quick Launch. These are programs or features I use daily so I keep there for quick reference.

You are done!

Yup. That's it. If you've followed along all this way, you've done absolutely great.
If you'd like to suggest improvements to this walk through, or if you find mistakes, or typos, or think something needs clarification, post a comment below and we'll get back with you about your request. We really hope you've enjoyed the material and that you've found it helpful!