HijackThis (HJT) is free diagnostic software for Windows XP and currently owned by Trend Micro. It diagnoses antivirus, malware, computer slowdown, junk registry and spyware-related issues beyond the ability of any anti-virus or anti-spyware software.
However, HijackThis does not automatically remove or fix issues; it needs user judgment before any fix can be made. The beauty of HJT is its simplicity, speed and cost. Unlike any anti-virus/anti-spyware that scans a computer for hours, consuming intensive CPU and memory resources, HJT scans complete in less than a minute, in which results are put into "logs" popularly called "HJT logs" by the IT community. It is also a very light application and consumes very little memory during operation.
Using HJT, you can diagnose computer problems which can hardly be seen by Microsoft's leading diagnostic software or even anti-virus software. The main problem with using HJT as an effective diagnostic tool is its strong dependence on the users' level of expertise in Windows XP processes. An expert in Windows XP can be expected to interpret HJT logs very easily and quickly as compared to a beginner or a novice.
The current protocol in this case is to generate HJT logs and then post that log in forums where experts can contribute, analyze and recommend the best action to take for your computer based on the log provided. This is the standard solution, but if you are willing to learn, you need to go beyond asking for help in the forums and start reading and understanding what is behind every line of HJT logs.
It is also a good approach to take note of what those experts say, although there is always a risk in accepting someone else's decision; the expert might recommend removing some files/processes which appear to be an important part of your favorite/personal program. The process that takes place in the forums consumes a lot of time; still, learning from these experts, taking notes, starting to rely on your own judgment based on expert documents is an asset to starting to interpret your own logs. This is not a one time experience; you'll need practice, time and knowledge to interpret those HJT logs as accurately as possible.
There is some advantage to interpreting the HJT by yourself. You own the computer and you know why the software was installed or used. Success in the use of HJT involves correctly removing those at-fault entries in the log while not deleting the important ones; with millions of Windows XP software/applications being developed over the course of time, it is becoming hard for experts to determine whether that software or application is important to you. Therefore, you are the best resource person to know which of those software/processes you need. This saves a lot of time in interpreting HJT logs.
You might not be an expert in Windows XP, but this tutorial will teach you both the basics and advanced techniques, so you can improve your skill in interpreting HJT logs. If you are ready and interested, keep reading.
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