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Hit Start->Run, then type "msconfig". Select startup and make sure you remove any programs that you dont want to startup automatically when your computer does. Same with services. If you're unsure what the program is, look the names up on google. The boot.ini timeout can be set to 5 instead of 30 seconds.
Cleaning Internet and Registry
Clearing Search History/Cookies/Files
is the first step to a safe computer. Avast anti-virus has a free version and is the most often recommended. AVG is free but from experience never deletes anything. Norton causes problems on startup if you're having hardware problems and it also eats your ram. Panda is the best, but is commercial. You dont need to buy anything if you scan regularly. Adaware and spybot are the best spyware removers.
Steps to Securing PC