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3 Technical Safety/security-related Questions


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#1 Damaru

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 04:59 AM

1) Safety of Prioritizing/Ending Processes with the Task Manager

I often see advice to the effect that `priority' can be assigned to certain tasks within the Task Manager, but whenever I try to do this myself I get a warning that "system instability" may occur (I've also received this message when trying to end certain processes that have become non-responsive with the Task Manager). What exactly does `system instability' mean in this context, and is it something I should be worried about?

2) Safety of Using Common Shutdown/Restart/Logoff Shortcuts

A few weeks ago, I ran across a comment on a computer help forum that warned against using shortcuts with a shortened or null time parameter ("-t 00") to shut down or restart one's computer (or to log off the current account), as this could, over time, result in corrupted system files (possibly because of a feature called `delayed write'?). I am currently using the following shortcuts for these functions:

%windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -s
%windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -r
%windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -l

I have also seen the following methods for creating shutdown, restart, and log off shortcuts offered on various computer sites, but have never tried them personally:

C:\WINDOWS\RUNDLL32.EXE shell32,SHExitWindowsEx 1
C:\WINDOWS\RUNDLL32.EXE shell32,SHExitWindowsEx 2
C:\WINDOWS\RUNDLL32.EXE shell32,SHExitWindowsEx 0

C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe user.exe,exitwindows

First of all, can anyone tell me whether the shortcuts I am currently using (i.e. the 3 at the top of the above list) will be safe to use over the long term, and/or elaborate on the differences (if any) between these shortcuts and the ones below them?

Secondly, if the "-t 00" parameter is unsafe to use to exit Windows, is it safe to use in conjunction with the "-f" parameter to kill running applications without exiting Windows? Or will that eventually harm files that are important to the applications in question?

Lastly, I have read that having the write-back cache setting enabled on your hard drive is a bad idea if you are planning to shut your PC down abnormally on a routine basis. Do the above shortcuts qualify as an `abnormal' means of shutting down your PC?

3) Safety of Using Autologon in Conjunction with Password-protected Accounts

I have read on numerous forums that cable/DSL users should password-protect all of the accounts on their computers as a precaution against hackers...

My question here is, does setting TweakUI to autolog you on to your preferred account after you have password-protected all of your accounts defeat the purpose of creating the passwords to begin with?

Also, when they say to password-protect "all" of the accounts on your computer, do they mean to include the hidden ASP.NET account that is automatically generated when you download and install the .NET Framework?

Any elaboration (or links to useful resources) on any of the above will be greatly appreciated :thumbsup:

Damaru

Edited by Damaru, 17 January 2008 - 05:44 AM.


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#2 Tomo2

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 06:25 PM

1) The task manager: every time you do anything with the processes in task manager it will warn you about potential system instability. For ending a process this is no worry as long as it isn't one running under network service, local service or system or explorer.exe under you username. ending taskmgr.exe will kill task manager. Changing priority should be ok as long as you don't change it any higher than "above normal" or lower than "below normal" as this may cause your computer or that specific program to stop responding. Normally it would not cause you to lose data but just reboot your PC.

2) I'm not sure about this one. I have those shortcuts but they are generated by tweakXP and are not linked to any system file. There shouldn't be any problem with using the shortcuts you currently use.

3)Password protecting should only be used if there are other people accessing your computer. If a virus gets in then it can hide behind password protected stuff. Do not password protect ASP.NET as this may corrupt the account. TweakUI will still function as normal whether you have a password or not.

Anyway whats the need to password protect if you have good enough protection from hackers?

Hope that helps! :thumbsup:

Edited by Tomo2, 17 January 2008 - 06:27 PM.

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#3 CTH_Tom

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 06:44 PM

For #2 I don't really see a need for shortcuts in doing those tasks.
Isn't clicking on start> log off>turn off computer just as easy as using a shortcut?
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#4 Andrew

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 07:09 PM

#1: As has been mentioned, it should be OK to set the priority so long as you don't go above "Above Normal" or below "Below Normal:

#2: I've used those same shortcuts for 2+ years now with no adverse effects. Even with the time parameter set to 00, all it does is send the same command to Windows that the buttons on the Start Menu do. I, however, don't use the -f parameter as that may cause data loss if a program gets terminated before it can save whatever it was doing. Sending the shutdown command without the -f parameter still tells all the programs to finish up what they're doing.

#3: Passwords and accounts in Windows XP are quixotic things, especially when compared to the system used on Unix-like systems such as Linux. My advice is this: create one user account for each person who uses the computer, protect each one with a password. Create one Administrator account and protect it with a strong password. If you want to use autologin, then do so; personally, I do not use it, even though I'm the only one who uses my computer. It's just a matter of personal preference. Do NOT create a password for any accounts that you didn't create (like ASP.NET) and disable the Guest account. Make sure you have an antivirus, anti-spyware, and a firewall installed. For example, I use Avast! Antivirus Home Edition, AdAware 2007, Spybot S&D, and Commodo Firewall Pro (which is now free!).

Edited by Amazing Andrew, 17 January 2008 - 07:10 PM.


#5 Damaru

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 06:52 AM

Hi guys,

Thanks a lot for your responses! I'm glad to know I haven't been unwittingly doing harm to myself by using those shortcuts to shut down. :flowers:

I have one follow-up question on password-protecting accounts/anti-virus programs:

Tomo2 said:

"Password protecting should only be used if there are other people accessing your computer. If a virus gets in then it can hide behind password protected stuff."

So, for instance, if I was running my anti-virus program from one account, it wouldn't be able to effectively scan for and neutralize viruses in the other accounts if they were protected by passwords? Would this be true even if I was running my AV program from an administrator account? Because my understanding up till now was that if I ran my AV program from an administrator account, it would be able to scan all of the files in all of the accounts on my computer, including those in other password-protected admin accounts (perhaps with the exception of folders/files designated as `private')...is this understanding in error?

Thanks again for all your help! :thumbsup:




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