One of my readers, Harold, wrote to ask:
Is it possible to get rid of the XP security center?
About once a week I get reminded that my computer might be at risk
because I have automatic updates turned off. I have an up-to-date
virus program and also spy bot that us up-to-date. I run both on a
weekly basis. I also have the free version of zonealarm for a
The security is more of an annoyance than anything.
First, before addressing the options for Automatic Updates, let me address that you have an up-to-date anti-virus program and Spybot Search & Destroy, and scan with both every week. This is very good, but it is not adequate. With regard to anti-virus programs, you are probably ok if you get routine automatic updates.
However, regard to anti-spyware programs, Spybot Search & Destroy is not enough. So far, none of the anti-spyware programs can handle everything. I like Spybot S&D and Adaware SE Personal for their free versions (Adaware is only free for individuals, but not for businesses or non-profits). I prefer Sunbelt Software’s CounterSpy for my family’s machines. CounterSpy provides always-running protection for your computer, in addition to doing scheduled full scans of the computer.
You are leaving a big security hole in your system if you don’t do your Windows Updates. Please do not delay in doing Windows Updates. Some of the Windows Updates solve minor program issues, but too many of them solve security issues with Windows, Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.
Regarding the Security Center’s warnings, rather than turn off the Security Center, turn on the Automatic Updates. You can do this by going to Start / Control Panel / Performance and Maintenance (or System, if you use the “Classic View” of the Control Panel).
You will have three options (see the image below and the option I recommend).
One, for the terminally lazy, is “download and install the updates automatically.”
Another, for the less lazy and who have hi-speed connections, is “download the updates and then tell me that they are ready to be installed.”
Finally, there is an option — which I use — that says “tell me when there are new updates to be installed.” When they are ready, I get a little gold shield in Windows XP’s Status Bar that tells me that there are new updates. Then, I run Microsoft Updates to get them when I’m ready for them.