WinXP, End of Life, Anti-virus, & Dial-up. Oh My!!


A small change to my all ready limited financial situation is forcing me to make some overdue changes. I will be switching to a free dial-up service for one and this leaves me with several questions and the Dope seems the best place for a clueless person like me to go to for answers.:slight_smile:

My computer is 11 years old and can not be upgraded, even if I had the money to do so.


Obviously I won’t be surfing the web anymore, just checking my email and mine & my mothers bank accounts as necessary. At the beginning of the month there are a few banking things I take care of.

How can I make my computer & Firefox run better using a dial-up connection? Is there a way to stop all video & audio from downloading, much less playing? Is there a way to stop even images from downloading?


I have WinXP and MS Security Essentials.
My browser is Firefox 27.0.1 with Ghostery and Adblock Plus.

Based on this thread, Is “Microsoft Security Essentials” a good anti-virus? I should switch to AVG Anti-virus Free 2014, or Avast: Free Anti-Virus. Which is better for me? (After rereading that thread I’m now more confused.):confused:

Is there anything else I should do or download before I disconnect U-Verse this weekend?

Thank You.
More question to follow, I’m sure.

This is probably more IMHO than factual, but I would use Avast over AVG for an older XP system simply because AVG is a bit more bloated and will hurt your system performance more.

I used Flashblock add-on from here that blocks the automatic downloading/playing of Flash things. It leaves a placemark/window to show the existence of materil, but to get the data sent to you, you have to tell the browser specifically to do so (by clicking on the ‘box’ where the Flash-stuff would be present if not blocked.

I know there is (or was a few years ago) at least one add-on that will block images with placeholders indicating where pics would be.

I was on dial-up with hatred of waiting for images to load or Flash stuff holding up the page working, etc. Those two add-ons DEFINITELY made page-loading noticeably quicker, and gave me choice of what I actually cared to view upon many different sites.


There’s a lot of banking stuff that you can do by phone. Maybe not making a transfer or bill payment, but certainly to check what activity has occurred. It often means that you’ll have to copy all the information as their system reads it to you, but for many banks that option does exist.

If you’re going to be doing online banking with an XP system for security reasons I would at least consider a Linux install. It is more secure and there are lightweight distros aimed designed to run on older hardware. I would particularly recommend Puppy it has a really good website with good explanations on how to download and install.

It also comes with Firefox that you can install a flash blocker like NoScript that will prevent videos and other scripts from loading. There’s even a lightweight version of Firefox made specifically for Puppy linux called Firedog.

It is time to dump XP. You can no longer consider it to be secure, particularly for things like online banking.

A lot of websites have separate websites for mobile, which use a lot less bandwidth. Perhaps someone here is familiar with these and how you can setup your PC to use them.

There are opportunities for free internet:
Public libraries often offer free internet
If you have a laptop or tablet you can get free wifi at a lot of places–libraries, McDonalds…

I remember being able to turn images on and off in the earlier days when I was using dial-up, but I don’t remember how I did it (and I certainly wasn’t using Firefox).

FireFox will have settings for not downloading graphics - but I can’t tell you where they are.

I’d also suggest you borrow someones smartphone or laptop to see if there is an open (un-secured) wifi signal available to you.

I have 2 computers running XP. Nothing wrong with it and no reason to upgrade.

I would use a Linux Live CD to access the internet once XP is EoL’d. Basically, you put the CD in, boot off of it, then go online. The CD is not writeable, so you know that your system hasn’t been compromised. It’s a little paranoid, but if you’re accessing banking websites, paranoid is the way to go.

Also, I’d check craigslist and freecycle for used computers. 11 years old is definitely getting to the point where some people will just give away computers that are more capable. Often there will be something wrong with them, but you can maybe make one working one out of two or three non-working ones. This is if you have some free time and find putting computers together to be an interesting (or at least rewarding enough) hobby.

I’d recommend sticking with MS Security Essentials, since you already have it. Avast is a good program, but I wouldn’t say it’s so head-and-shoulders above MSSE that’s it’s worth the risk of installing it on a soon-to-be-unsupported XP system. MSSE is light-weight and probably sufficient for what you’ll be doing.

And note that a top-line antivirus program isn’t as important for online banking as it is for general web surfing.

The biggest thing I recommend for dialup is using a dialup accelerator. These are proxy services that recompress everything from the Internet before sending it to you. They often claim to speed things up 10-20 times, but I’d say 2-5 times is more realistic. You are sending your requests to a middle man, so there are privacy concerns, but I think it’s worth it, as the Internet is really slow on dialup nowadays.

Opera has one built in, and is what I used when I had to go back to dialup for a while. But there are some other solutions. The two that popped up when I did a Google search were ComputerCafe Accelerator and fasTun. The former installs software automatically, while the latter just has you change your proxy settings.

I agree you should also use Flashblock and Adblock Plus, if you don’t already. NoScript is good if you don’t mind having to mess with it a bit, but Adblock covers most of what you’d probably do with it. The rest can be handled by Ghostery.

As for an Antivirus, I’d actually recommend Avira due to its smaller upgrade sizes. Check out the pinned GQ thread about malware for more info about it, including how to disable the nag screen. MSE might as well not be there for what it does.

Oh, right. I forgot about this. I used mobile Facebook, for example. I just went ahead and used the mobile websites. But an addon that claims to do it automatically is called Go Mobile.

It dawns on me that, as many addons as I’m recommending, the 11-year-old computer might get a little sluggish. So I will recommend one more addon that will help: UnloadTabs. It will help keep Firefox from taking up too much memory. I use it right now even on my Win7 machine, since it has less than 2GB of ram.

I’m on dial up running Win 8 and things are generally fine. I haven’t needed to stop images from loading. Things take much much longer to load. I can’t watch videos on YouTube or such. Other than that, I don’t really have problems.

May I ask, what free dial up service have you found?

Hey Foggy welcome back! How ya doing, dude?

In my (very old version of) Firefox on Linux, it’s at Edit -> Preferences -> Content -> Load images automatically. (In Winders machines, that’s probably at Tools -> Options -> Content -> Load Images or similar.)

One useful thing you can do: Stick with us here at SDMB! Very largely plain-text-based, very lite on the graphics. No avatars (and we’re damn well going to keep it that way)!

You can disable videos. If you’ve even have the necessary video player(s) in the first place (like Flash) you can tell Firefox to disable those. I don’t think you can disable the simple animations like animated gif’s, that I’ve ever heard of.

I had dial up until Sept. 2013. I surfed the web plenty! There were a few things that I couldn’t do. Streaming audio or video was a big no-go. I could watch YT vids if I was patient. big photos would sometimes time out. The SD should be no problem. I used McAfee for a while and then MS Essentials. McAffee used to let me pause updates but they changed it so I had to just forget about using my computer when it decided to update.

Microsoft is ending support for XP, including security updates, in about 3 weeks.

If you have an XP machine that you connect to the internet, it will soon be under the control of a third party who probably does not have your best interests in mind.

That’s a little extreme. The end of support means Microsoft won’t be publishing any additional security updates or offering technical support. The software doesn’t suddenly change. And remember, XP has gone through 12+ years of live “testing” and fixes already.

So if a hacker finds a previously unknown and severe security flaw AND manages to exploit it (which probably means you browsing to a nefarious site or installing something you shouldn’t), then yes, bad things could happen. There is certainly a risk, but it’s a big leap to say your system will soon be under third-party control.

Then Foggy will be in good company with 95 percent of American bank ATMs still running XP. I’ll take a wild guess that the script kiddies will be devoting much more time to BOA and Wells Fargo than Foggy.

You could also go with a text-only browser. Lynx is probably the best. It makes browsing very fast even on dial-up because all images and extraneous material are ignored.