Should I re-install my OS, good Internet habits, how to go about re-installing my operating system, should I buy or build a new computer

You should re-install your OS at least once every two years and more often if you install trial software fequently or if the users of the computer are less than careful with the Internet. If you notice a significant slow-down and you haven't reinstalled in a while, it may be a good idea to rebuild. If you're a knowledgeable user, you may benefit from attempts to clean out spyware. There are tons of resources on the 'net for assistance with spyware.

This will provide some guidance on safe Internet use.

Consider installing Microsoft Anti-spyware and perhaps Spy Sweeper

Here's how to rebuild your system.

1. Think about what comprises your data. Many folks forget about the favorites and other data that might be stored somewhere other than in their My Documents folder. For example, Outlook Express mail files are located in C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{33C167BE-087F-4705-80EC-DFC010046837}\Microsoft\Outlook Express. If you don't get those files and you erase your hard drive, your mail is toast. Export your address books and import them to the new installation.

2. After you're sure where your data is, back it up to at least two different media. A hard drive and DVD/CD is best. Forget the software, it must be reinstalled.

3. Disconnect all but the one hard drive you want to reformat. This will prevent mistakes

4. Boot the system from the XP installation disk. Delete the existing partition. Recreate it. Format it quickly NTFS and install the OS.

5. Immediately after reinstalling the OS, install the most recent drivers in the following order:

1) Chipset/Motherboard drivers (Example, VIA 4 in 1's for VIA chipsets,
Intel INF and Application Accelerator for Intel chipsets, Etc.) Do this
BEFORE loading any other driver!

2) Latest version of Direct X.

3) Latest Video Card drivers.

4) SCSI/ATA drivers

5) Lan/NIC drivers

6) Modem drivers, then any other drivers

7) Finally, install sound card drivers last.

I'm very resistant to purchasing new hardware when the old stuff does what I need to do. Gamers and those doing video work require frequent upgrades. Everyone else can use computers for 4 or 5 years. Erasing and reinstalling usually improves performance a lot.

I'm a proponent of buying off-the-shelf computers. Building from scatch is always more expensive, risky and frustrating. The only exception to that rule is if it's a hobby or career. Normal users are always better off buying a main stream computer. Now go get yourself a Dell dude.