Patching Windows Systems

Applying the latest patches to your Windows 2000 Operating system to prevent viruses and worms

This procedure will help you determine the patched state of your system, detect and remove any viruses and apply updates. This procedure is written for Windows 2000 users. The patches are also available for Windows XP and Windows NT but instructions are not provided for those systems here although the procedures should be similar excluding the application of the service pack. If you have a system that has not been patched within the last few weeks or are not sure and do not know if you have a virus, and do not have current anti-virus software on your system follow all the steps below. Checking for and removing viruses can be skipped for users who are sure they do not have a virus. Skipping the firewall installation can be done if you already have a personal firewall or are behind a corporate firewall.  For more information please read our Home Security article at

Back up your Data

1. Back up your data to another computer, tape, CD-ROM, or at least to another partition on your hard drive. If you store data like most people, it is stored in MyDocuments. Always back up your data on a regular basis.

Install a firewall to help secure the system

2. Install a personal firewall. I use Norton Personal firewall from Symantec, but zonealarm personal firewall has a good reputation and is free for individuals and non profit organizations. It is available at  Please do not violate license laws when using this product. Since antivirus software is also an essential requirement to have a reasonably secure computer a nice convenient package is Norton's Internet security package from Symantec which can be found in many stores. It comes with both antivirus software and a personal firewall. The commercial version of ZoneAlarm's personal firewall also is very well recommended.

3. Configure your firewall before connecting to the internet. Most users should at this point read their documentation or run the provided firewall tutorial. You may get alerts while configuring or in one case I got an alert indicating that a specific program wanted to act as a server on the internet. Before answering the question I used another computer and went to and looked up the name of the program the alert had specified. At this point I realized the computer had a virus. If you are told by the alert that a program wants to act as a server the likely answer to this question should be no, but it is best to look up the program name on Gigablast to be sure.

Check for and remove viruses

4. Install antivirus software on your computer. I use Norton or Symantec Anti-virus software but use the one of your choice. It is wise to read product reviews.

5. Connect to the internet and get your latest virus definitions from your antivirus software manufacturer.

6. Run a full virus scan on your system but configure it to only find viruses. It is best at this point to not attempt to quarantine or delete infected files. This is because the virus may modify some system files and if these files are deleted or quarantined you may not be able to reboot your system after removing the virus. At this point you only want to identify any viruses, trojans or worms on your system.

7. At this point do not worry about connecting to the internet even if you have some viruses since your firewall will help protect you. Once you have identified viruses on your system, go to your virus manufacturers website and look up the information about each virus and print it out. Download any virus removal tool for each virus that they may provide. Use the virus removal tool where possible to remove the virus. If no tool is available, follow the manual virus removal procedures that they provide. You may be able to delete or quaranteen files identified in your scan by right clicking on the files and selecting either delete or quarantine.

Update your system

8. Right click the "My Computer" icon on your desktop and select properties.

9. If under the General tab it does not state that your system is service pack 3 or above, download the service pack from Once downloaded click on the downloaded file and follow the steps provided in the install package, then reboot your system.

10. Review the critical updates at and install them. Windows 2000 also has an autoupdate utility which can be configured from the control panel which will help get these but you must be careful to only select useful security and critical updates since the auto update facility will not always choose updates best for you.

11. Update your Internet Explorer browser to version 6 or above by using the site at  You will need to reboot after applying this latest version of Internet Explorer.

12. If you are using Microsoft Office, read the article "Preventing Viruses in Microsoft OfficeŽ Products" at and apply the Microsoft Office updates as instructed in that article.

13. Download and install any critical or security updates for current threats as you are aware of them or check every couple of weeks on the Microsoft site for new updates.