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Anti-malware suggestions for old computer

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I?ve been given a very old Dell desktop (10-year old Dimension 400) from some friends of ours who recently bought a new laptop.

 

From a hardware perspective, this old Dell still works fine although disk space is minimal. It has two hard drives installed, one about 10gb (C drive) and the other about 20gb (D drive). Also, the pc only has about 224 mb?s of ram.

 

From a software perspective, things were a mess. Tons of out-of-date programs, multiple anti-virus programs, missing links, possible malware, etc. etc. So, rather than try to salvage what was there, I reformatted both drives and installed a fresh version of XP Pro on the C drive. I spent much of yesterday installing Windows updates and it is now fully updated and patched (SP3), and I also upgraded to IE8.

 

We intend to use the computer primarily for the kiddies to play internet games -- the 8 year old loves Legos Star Wars -- and as a learning tool. (We have another home computer for more serious matters.)

 

To keep things simple and hopefully to keep the system running as optimally as possible given it?s space and memory limitations, I want to put as little as possible on the C drive and to use the somewhat larger D drive to save music and picture files and to install portable apps. I don?t intend to install Microsoft Office.

 

Thus far, the only program I have installed on the C drive (other than the XP operating system) is Returnil to help make the pc kid-proof. There?s about 3 gb of space remaining on the C drive. Even though Returnil is also useful from a security standpoint, I probably should supplement it by installing on the C drive an anti-malware program as well. I?ve been debating between something robust like Avast (about 40 mb?s) and something minimal like Malwarebytes (about 5 mb?s). I am not familiar with Returnil, Avast or MBAM, but they appear to be well-regarded on this forum (I played around with Returnil last night after installing it and it seems very straight-forward).

 

Sorry for being long-winded, but I wanted to give as much info as possible to put everything in context. I?d be grateful for your ideas, thoughts, and suggestions regarding whether you recommend an anti-malware program and, if so, which one.

 

Edit: I should clarify that I installed Returnil 2008. I know Returnil 2010 has anti-virus features, but opted to steer clear of that version after reading Dennis's thread about his problems with it.

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Thanks Rorschach. Actually, one of my almost daily habits is to look at Piriform's Spyware Hell forum and learn from other people's mistakes. So I'm familiar with your pinned post.

 

Of course, my situation is not that my pc is infected, but rather...given the pc's limitations in disk space and memory, and given it will be used primarily by my kids...what anti-malware program would be a good fit for it. For example, given who the users will be, I don't think something with HIPS would be a good candidate to install.

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I?ve been given a very old Dell desktop (10-year old Dimension 400)

 

Also, the pc only has about 224 mb?s of ram.

 

I reformatted both drives and installed a fresh version of XP Pro on the C drive.

Your biggest problem I would say is your RAM as 224MB will only just run the basics of WinXP. You are going to need at least 500MB. If your only using this computer to play internet games then I think your going to struggle. Kids today don't like to wait for anything so if it can't run their games satisfactory then you will get complaints of them.

 

You haven't said what processor speed you are running?

 

I would have stuck with Win98SE or WinME depending what was installed before. I run Win98SE on a 10 year old computer with three times more memory than that. You can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear!!

 

I would recommend Avast and Malwarebytes. Good luck with your project. ;)

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Thanks Lucky. I didn't have a choice regarding installing XP. The folks who gave us the pc didn't have their original OS disk (whatever it was) and they had upgraded to XP several years ago.

 

The processor is 398 mhz. (I know, I know...it's waaayyyy slow and out of date...but it was free.)

 

I was hoping the pc would be adequate enough for the kids to play with on sites like Bob the Builder, Legos, etc. (My kids are young.) Sounds like I may have set too lofty of an expectation.

 

So far, I guess Avast or Malwarebytes are the front-runners to consider.

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So far, I guess Avast or Malwarebytes are the front-runners to consider.

I think Antivir would be a better choice on such a low spec as it is runs lighter than Avast

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Don't spend money upgrading things on that computer. Way too old and parts add up fast.

I probably wouldn't bother with AVs with resident protection at all with such little ram. To be honest that thing isn't really good for much, probably cant even run flash games/youtube. (you didn't mention processor, but I'm guessing its under or right at 1ghz?)

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With such low performance hardware maybe you should just manually harden it against common malware threats (Change IE settings, system settings, services...) and run nothing. Obviously no sensitive data should be connected to it. Disable anything and everything your kids won't need and maybe run some very lightweight preventative software, like MJ Registry Watcher. Then you can use something like HostsMan to prevent connections to known baddies.

When all is said and done you could just check it every now and then to ensure no infection. Even if it did get infected you obviously have the skills to reinstall the OS. You could make images of it as well to aid this.

 

This approach will leave most of the system resources to deal with whatever hardware hungry sites/software your kids use.

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