Linked by Howard Fosdick on Tue 19th Oct 2010 23:23 UTC
Windows In previous OS News articles, I described how mature computers up to ten years oldĀ can be refurbished and made useful. One article identified and evaluated different approaches to refurbishing. This article tells how to performance tune a mature Windows computer to make it serviceable again. I hope it will interest anyone who wants to tune Windows.
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old Acrobat is a can of worms
by ChoK on Wed 20th Oct 2010 00:53 UTC
ChoK
Member since:
2010-06-02

It's not a good idea to install an old Acrobat reader because of the security risks, it's one of the most used vector of attack on Windows. While Foxit Reader is nice, you should mention lightweight open-source alternatives like sumatra pdf which loads faster than Acrobat and Foxit.

Reply Score: 5

RE: old Acrobat is a can of worms
by WereCatf on Wed 20th Oct 2010 01:42 UTC in reply to "old Acrobat is a can of worms"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

It's not a good idea to install an old Acrobat reader because of the security risks

Indeed, that's what jumped out at my eyes too from the article. Acrobat Reader is well-known for all the holes it has and thus it's obviously a very bad idea to use non-recent versions. A really bad suggestion from the author!

About Foxit.. while true, it's fast and easy, I actually find the Windows version of Evince much faster. And it's completely free, too.

Reply Score: 2

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

I've seen people run into printing limitations with the light viewers.

They may be faster but they come with the risk of disappointing the user who will then revert to Adobe.

Reply Score: 3

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

IMO, it's not a good idea to "clean up" Windows either. It'll always end up a half-assed job. It's impossible to know 100% that you've got everything. Hint: You probably didn't. Once a system is breached, you cannot trust it any more. Period. And yet, these articles keep encouraging it, and explaining how it can be done instead of going the safer route--reinstalling Windows. WTF?

Either find those original Windows discs, or break down and order a new set from the computer's manufacturer. Don't like it? Well, I guess that's what you get when you use and depend on proprietary, commercial software. Or go the easy route and get one of the various free BSD or Linux-based operating systems out there.

Anything is better than attempting to "clean" an infected Windows machine.

Edited 2010-10-20 17:24 UTC

Reply Score: 4

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I got the impression that this was written for general maintenance rather than recovery. In terms of tuning and general maintenance, Windows can benefit from it as more users benefit from these types of articles.

Now, in terms of a security breach and malware; we're not talking a system tuneup anymore. Mind you, there are still times when "as best I can tell" is the requirement for lack of option to nuke and pave. These types of articles help people get through that.

Reply Score: 3

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

"I got the impression that this was written for general maintenance rather than recovery."

Except that, "unknown" PCs are specifically mentioned in the article. Which means, machines that were originally owned by someone else, but the new owner wants to "clean" it up for his/her own use. Who knows where that thing has been, and what kinds of nasty things it has contracted over time. Maybe porn, warez or drive-by download sites in IE6? And I wouldn't want to know just how many such pieces of software it has.

If you know exactly where that computer has been, and that is not dangerous sites--ie, it has been in your possession since it was new and you can somewhat trust it, I have less of a problem with this article. The problem occurs when it tries to help someone "clean" instead of properly *nuke* some stranger's PC, which for all you know, could be one of the top 100 botnet-infected computers in the country.

That's the common theme with these articles though. They teach some useful things to readers who would like to do some general cleanup and maintenance, but they assume that such a cleanup is all it takes to get some random, used Windows system back in good working condition and secure again. That's just dangerous, given the fact that it is obviously directed at less experienced users.

These less experienced users the articles are targeting are exactly the ones who will be at the most risk when doing something like this; hell, even experienced users can't be 100% sure they've got everything, but it's far more likely for a less experienced user to skip (accidentally or not) an important step or miss some bad stuff.

Reply Score: 2

RE: old Acrobat is a can of worms
by telns on Wed 20th Oct 2010 22:10 UTC in reply to "old Acrobat is a can of worms"
telns Member since:
2009-06-18

Thanks for the tip on Sumatra PDF. I hadn't heard of it. I've switched over to it already.

Reply Score: 1

v Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper
by tracyanne on Wed 20th Oct 2010 01:41 UTC
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

to simply install Linux, in less than an hour you could have a fully functioning Ubuntu or Linux Mint system up and running.

Blah, blah, blah. You're missing the whole point: this is an article of how to tune up Windows for those _who want to keep Windows_. This is not about which OS is better. There's plenty of reasons to continue to use Windows and Linux is not always a reasonable alternative and thus a guide that attempts to help tuning up an existing Windows installation is a useful one.

Reply Score: 4

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

to simply install Linux, in less than an hour you could have a fully functioning Ubuntu or Linux Mint system up and running. Blah, blah, blah. You're missing the whole point: this is an article of how to tune up Windows for those _who want to keep Windows_. This is not about which OS is better. There's plenty of reasons to continue to use Windows and Linux is not always a reasonable alternative and thus a guide that attempts to help tuning up an existing Windows installation is a useful one.


True enough.

For many people a Linux installation would be just fine and they could do everything they needed to do using it, but they simply don't know about it. This is a great pity, but it should be recognised as the pratical fact.

Looking at the article itself though is a handy reminder of just how much trouble it is to try to maintain Windows.

FTA:
Windows performance deteriorates over time.


True ... but why for heavens sake? That souldn't happen ... the machine hardware itself is the eaxct same performance over time, that doesn't deteriorate.

Just one point I note on this: a few days ago I was doing a "maintenance cleanup" of a Windows machine that is used only rarely, and MSE said that it had to download a new virus definition, and install an updated version of itself. Fair enough, I thought ... until the virus definition file started to download. Good grief ... how huge was that file? I've had whole CDs download faster.

Apparently from some reports there are two million new pieces of Windows malware which have first appeared just in this year alone. Two million. Per year!

Then I'm thinking ... Windows has to load that file when MSE starts, and it has to scan each executable on demand against the contents of the file ... which is huge. I can't see any way that an older machine with up-to-date virus definitions is going to have anywhere near acceptable performance. It is going to take at least a few minutes to boot, and every program is going to take ages to start. It will be frustration plus trying to use such a machine ... even after any efforts to "tune" its performance.

Perhaps this is why Windows performance seems to deteriorate over time ... it doesn't really, it is just that Windows has a whole lot more background work to do now compared to what it used to have. In addition if the virus definitions are held in RAM, Windows probably has less available memory than it used to.

So ... unles you really, truly, absolutely have software which is strictly and unequivocably "Windows only" ... it might be worth consider switching an older machine over to Linux even if it means having to work around some compatibility issues. Really. It is worth a thought ... it might be saner to do that than to throw out older but still-functional hardware that can no longer perform adequately with Windows.

Edited 2010-10-20 02:26 UTC

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

For many people a Linux installation would be just fine and they could do everything they needed to do using it, but they simply don't know about it. This is a great pity, but it should be recognised as the pratical fact.

Atleast for me Linux just doesn't cut it. I do have Linux installed on my desktop, I got a laptop with Linux, and I have a Linux server, but on my desktop I spend 99% of time in Windows. Why? Well, simply and bluntly put: Linux sucks for gaming.

Anyways, couldn't we just keep Linux out of the discussion? It'd be nice even for once to have all the damn advocates out and instead focus on the topic at hand: how to tune up a Windows installation. It has nothing to do with Linux or any other OS.

True ... but why for heavens sake? That souldn't happen ... the machine hardware itself is the eaxct same performance over time, that doesn't deteriorate.

I don't know if Vista suffers from performance deterioration, but XP sure does. However, I've now used Windows 7 for half a year and I haven't noticed any kind of performance deterioration _at all_. It's still as spiffy as it was before even though it's in constant, daily use and I haven't even tried to perform any kind of tune-up activities on it.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

For many people a Linux installation would be just fine and they could do everything they needed to do using it, but they simply don't know about it. This is a great pity, but it should be recognised as the pratical fact. Atleast for me Linux just doesn't cut it. I do have Linux installed on my desktop, I got a laptop with Linux, and I have a Linux server, but on my desktop I spend 99% of time in Windows. Why? Well, simply and bluntly put: Linux sucks for gaming.


Fair enough. I personally don't use a computer for gaming ... in my household we have games consoles for that.

Anyways, couldn't we just keep Linux out of the discussion? It'd be nice even for once to have all the damn advocates out and instead focus on the topic at hand: how to tune up a Windows installation. It has nothing to do with Linux or any other OS.


Kind of agree, but not totally. I'm thinking that for older hardware it is no longer possible to "tune" Windows performance back to anything like it was when the machine was new. It may not be possible to get acceptable performance out of it. If people want their machine for some kinds of uses (not gaming), but say email, web browsing, Internet banking, facebook social interaction websites, write the odd letter, perhaps a bit of financial calcualtions or a balance sheet on a spreadsheet, photo management and printing, burn the odd CD, listen to music, YouTube ... all of that is perfectly within the capabilities of Linux on older hardware.

I'm thinking that it is no longer within the capabilities of Windows on older hardware.

" True ... but why for heavens sake? That souldn't happen ... the machine hardware itself is the eaxct same performance over time, that doesn't deteriorate.
I don't know if Vista suffers from performance deterioration, but XP sure does. However, I've now used Windows 7 for half a year and I haven't noticed any kind of performance deterioration _at all_. It's still as spiffy as it was before even though it's in constant, daily use and I haven't even tried to perform any kind of tune-up activities on it. "

Good for you ... but even less relevant to the topic of re-tuning an older Windows machine, and trying to re-instate its performance for some tasks, than what I posted and which you had a shot at me about.

Edited 2010-10-20 02:56 UTC

Reply Score: 0

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Troll.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Troll.


How so? I gain no profit whatsoever from any of my words here.

How exactly does it hurt anyone if someone who happens to own an older Windows machine, and has only the uses as I described for it, decides to save themselves a pile of ongoing maintenance work by wiping Windows and putting Linux on their machine? They can still do all of the tasks as described perfectly well, they re-gain the original speed that the machine used to have, they re-gain useable memory and save heaps of download bandwidth because they have no need for virus definitions any longer (or WGA updates), and they no longer have any worries about malware getting on their machine as they use the Internet.

They win, nobody loses, surely everyone is happy?

What exactly is wrong with you Windows zealots anyway? Grouches.

Edited 2010-10-20 04:45 UTC

Reply Score: 3

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I like your sentiment but the article topic really was "how do I tune a Windows machine". Discussion of osX, Linux, BSD, VMX or Plan9 does not equate to "here's something that can improve your Windows performance."

Your not being called a Troll because you profit from pushing another OS but because your continuing to push another OS topic not relevant to the article or discussion.

Imagine a discussion on partition selection and sizes for Linux based workstations and someone keeps chiming in with "well, on my Windows it works like this..."

Reply Score: 4

reez Member since:
2006-06-28

"Troll.


How so? I gain no profit whatsoever from any of my words here.
"
Trolls get paid for trolling?
Sign me up! ;)

Reply Score: 3

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

I have had the same experience with 7, as well as Vista.

Even XP stays fast with just a little upfront maintenance required, as so much Windows software misbehaves.

With Windows, installing software is more than just running the associated exe/msi file. One is also required to disable all the bullshit that launches at startup after the install, as well as uncheck those damn yahoo toolbars that so much stuff wants to install along with their software.

Do these things, your computer will always be fast, that is, unless you install anything labeled "Apple"

Reply Score: 4

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26


I don't know if Vista suffers from performance deterioration, but XP sure does. However, I've now used Windows 7 for half a year and I haven't noticed any kind of performance deterioration _at all_. It's still as spiffy as it was before even though it's in constant, daily use and I haven't even tried to perform any kind of tune-up activities on it.


Vista is not any different in this regard. How much of XP slowdown is caused by the registry is debatable but Vista and 7 have the same registry improvements, namely the virtual registry.

Though the registry is commonly blamed for XP slowdown there has been no evidence to support this theory. The registry in XP is designed in a way to allow fast indexing even if it is filled.

In most cases degraded performance is caused by third party junk and drive fragmentation. Replacing older drivers can also make a new install seem faster. I've had XP tell me that a driver was up to date when it actually wasn't. I have also seen it replace an older driver with an improved system driver after a reinstall.

Reply Score: 4

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

IMO, the PC sucks for gaming, period. DRM, ridiculous copy protection schemes, requirement of installing obscene amounts of data only to have to... put the fucking disc back in every time you want to play. Windows, Linux, or Mac, gaming on them just sucks. Video game consoles were better for as long as I remember. Though unfortunately, with the rise of downloadable games and content and the DRM cropping up on gaming systems, it's getting worse there; it's no longer as simple as "stick the cartridge or disc in any machine and it works".

What's funny is, as much as PC gaming sucks these days, just about all the stuff I care about runs fine on most any other OS. All those DOS classics will run in DOSBox pretty much no matter what the operating system is. The Build Engine (Duke 3D, Shadow Warrior, Blood, etc.) was ported to modern operating systems. The original Doom engine was ported long ago to modern systems. Doom 3 runs on Linux (better than in Windows, in fact... ironically) and Mac OS X, and if id Software stays true to their history, it will likely be open sourced in the next several years. That leaves Microsoft's Flight Simulator the sole Windows-requiring game (shock, surprise!) that I even give a rat's ass about. For the rest, there's consoles.

Sure, this doesn't say much, other than modern PC gaming these days and that many older games work no matter what the OS, and that for my gaming needs any OS works well.

Oh, one more thing, regarding Flight Simulator X. It takes up a whopping ~13GB space installed, and has this "Product Activation" garbage built in to require activating... otherwise, you've bought an expensive demo. Problem is... you can only activate the game up to two times on one PC, which it is tied to. Apparently Microsoft never imagined that their OS blows and would need occasional reinstalls, or that 13GB is a lot of space and maybe users might want to free that space up occasionally and reinstall the game later.

To make matters worse, I actually bought the Gold edition of the game which has the Acceleration pack. Sorry, I REFUSE to activate when I don't know how long I'll keep it on my machine and have only two times to activate. Downloaded a crack to allow playing without activating with Microsoft's servers. Tried installing the Acceleration expansion pack, and it refused because "FSX needs to be activated." So apparently I need to download a DVD ISO with a cracked installer to play a game I bought and own. What's worse is I already bought and opened it before finding out about the activation shit... all bets are off for getting any money back and telling them to shove it up their ass.

Grr... PC gaming is bullshit these days.

[Tries to cool down...] Alright, I think I went off-topic enough, just had to vent (just thinking about the FSX situation fires me up.) I'm outta here.

Reply Score: 1

Sauron Member since:
2005-08-02

Even better, if the old machine is just being used for compatibility reasons, just don't connect it to the internet. I have a old Pentium 2 Windows 98 machine that is used on occasion for running dos software and its still running just fine even after 11 years. No internet = no virus or malware of any kind, and no anti-virus software to clog up the works.

Reply Score: 1

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Looking at the article itself though is a handy reminder of just how much trouble it is to try to maintain Windows.

FTA: "Windows performance deteriorates over time.


True ... but why for heavens sake? That souldn't happen ... the machine hardware itself is the eaxct same performance over time, that doesn't deteriorate.
"

These are both falsehoods, I have had Windows 2000, XP and NT4.0 installs that are still running perfectly fine .... after 8 or 9 years. Still run as fast as the day I did the initial install.

My Windows 7 install has been running since it was RTM, hasn't slowed down yet.

How I achieve this? I watch very carefully what an installer does and check startup items using msconfig or similar to see if anything is starting up that doesn't need to be.

If you clean up as you go along ... you don't run into any of these problems. Exactly the same would happen if you tried running a load of stuff in the background with any OS (seen the same thing happen with MacOSX and Linux).

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Looking at the article itself though is a handy reminder of just how much trouble it is to try to maintain Windows.

FTA: Windows performance deteriorates over time.

True ... but why for heavens sake? That souldn't happen ... the machine hardware itself is the eaxct same performance over time, that doesn't deteriorate.


These are both falsehoods, I have had Windows 2000, XP and NT4.0 installs that are still running perfectly fine .... after 8 or 9 years. Still run as fast as the day I did the initial install.

My Windows 7 install has been running since it was RTM, hasn't slowed down yet.

How I achieve this? I watch very carefully what an installer does and check startup items using msconfig or similar to see if anything is starting up that doesn't need to be.

If you clean up as you go along ... you don't run into any of these problems. Exactly the same would happen if you tried running a load of stuff in the background with any OS (seen the same thing happen with MacOSX and Linux).
"

Congratulations on maintaining a well-preforming Windows installation for such a long time. You have done well, haven't you.

This is an achievement that is clearly beyond the abilities of vast majority of people. Even the apparently knowledgeable author of the original piece, Howard Fosdick, couldn't manage that.

Oh, wait ... that probably wasn't what you wanted to imply, was it!

Oh dear oh dear.

Edited 2010-10-20 12:40 UTC

Reply Score: 1

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

"[q]Looking at the article itself though is a handy reminder of just how much trouble it is to try to maintain Windows.

FTA: Windows performance deteriorates over time.

True ... but why for heavens sake? That souldn't happen ... the machine hardware itself is the eaxct same performance over time, that doesn't deteriorate.


These are both falsehoods, I have had Windows 2000, XP and NT4.0 installs that are still running perfectly fine .... after 8 or 9 years. Still run as fast as the day I did the initial install.

My Windows 7 install has been running since it was RTM, hasn't slowed down yet.

How I achieve this? I watch very carefully what an installer does and check startup items using msconfig or similar to see if anything is starting up that doesn't need to be.

If you clean up as you go along ... you don't run into any of these problems. Exactly the same would happen if you tried running a load of stuff in the background with any OS (seen the same thing happen with MacOSX and Linux).
"

Congratulations on maintaining a well-preforming Windows installation for such a long time. You have done well, haven't you.

This is an achievement that is clearly beyond the abilities of vast majority of people. Even the apparently knowledgeable author of the original piece, Howard Fosdick, couldn't manage that.

Oh, wait ... that probably wasn't what you wanted to imply, was it!

Oh dear oh dear. [/q]

Well unlike you it seems, what I do when I do a windows cleanup, is tell the owner what caused it and how to avoid it. A small amount of user education can go a long way.

Guess what?? If they listen ... the installation continues to work well.

Reply Score: 1

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

to simply install Linux, in less than an hour you could have a fully functioning Ubuntu or Linux Mint system up and running. It would even transfer the files from the Windows My Documents folder, if you wanted, into the home directory of the Linux system.

All of that would take about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the speed of the computer, and another half hour to add the media codecs/Flash plugins for Firefox, and do some personalisation.


Then I would have to spend the next several months trying to find viable alternatives for the 40+ apps I use on Windows (wonder if they have anything for editing patches on my Yamaha Motif XF synth?), on top of wasting a lot of time trying to make some of these apps run under Wine, once I realize that there are no Linux alternatives for them.

In short, no thanks. Setting up Windows properly takes about a day for me, but then that setup is good for at least the next year.

BTW: Nice article. I didn't read the whole thing, but one thing I'm not sure is mentioned in the article is... never install anything on your Windows box that says Norton or Symantec on it. The same goes for Adobe, except for Flash (which is unfortunately necessary for a lot of web sites/apps). You could also do yourself good by avoiding iTunes/Quicktime if you can.

Edited 2010-10-20 01:57 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

to simply install Linux


That's irrelevant since this article is about Windows.
I know this might be hard to believe for many Linux fans but there people who like Windows.

Think of all the time and effort saved.


Think of all the time wasted learning a new desktop and new applications.

Reply Score: 5

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Think of all the time wasted learning a new desktop and new applications.


Firefox and OpenOffice behave almost exactly the same on Windows as they do on Linux. Menus behave the same way, as does copy and paste, as does the volume control, hyperlinks, tabs, scrollbars, manipulating (opening, closing, minimising, dragging, resizing) Windows, managing files ... many tasks are performed in near-identical fashion. Different applications like Okular instead of Adobe reader, Amarok instead of WMP, or Kopete instead of Windows messenger, or Kwrite instead of Notepad, or digikam instead of Picasa, or Krita instead of Paint.NET, or K3b instead of Nero, are similar enough and familiar enough in context that they aren't at all difficult.

Compared with the intimidating complexity and dire words of warning about what not to do, as described in the article that is the OP of this discussion, picking up the use of a Linux distribution desktop (especially a KDE desktop) is a piece of cake.

I know this for a fact because I have seen dozens of people do it.

Edited 2010-10-20 05:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Trollish but insightful - what do I do?

Just a few thoughts - the problem with old PCs is the the quality of cases, power supplies and fans is so poor, combined with the need to buy new keyboard mouse and monitor it often hardly makes it worth while. Recently turned an old box into a pfsense (FreeBSD) headless firewall - that seemed to make sense.

Admittedly off topic the PCs in my house dual boot 95% of the time I use Linux 5% Windows when I need to do something in Access which I need and doesn't work well in Wine.

My sons PC 50% of the time in Linux he uses Windows for gaming, there is nothing installed in Windows but an AV and games - he probably games too much - I think Rome Total War is quite educational am I deluding myself?

Edited 2010-10-20 04:50 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Oh the other problem of setting up old PCs in Windows is the hours you are going to spend finding drivers - Avoiding those evil drivers sites that just want to install malware to the box.

Going to funny sites in Taiwan to find some driver for old hardware - not fun

Reply Score: 3

r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

My reaction exactly, Tracyanne, but some people believe Windows == Computing, just as some people believe the earth is flat.

In this case the continued use of Windows shouldn't be the problem. The problem here is the offloading of the "polishing of the compact piece of excrement" to someone who still believes that it is a worthwhile effort.

It's what I (try to) do with questions about "fixing" Windows. I let users do the boring tasks themselves if I can. Me sitting at their computers and doing the work, while they are watching TV, gives me too much frustration and them far too less pain and suffering over their computing choices.

Even if you can "tune" up Windows, to what avail? It still stays Windows with all its deficiencies as a platform. Most of all being a bare OS, dependent on additional software to reach a state of sufficient reliability and being a money drain.

If you don't stay on the upgrade treadmill, you'll end up with a machine stuck in a bygone software era, where new software and hardware can't function.

But to each their own.

Reply Score: 1

L2 Cache registry setting
by reconciliation on Wed 20th Oct 2010 06:46 UTC
reconciliation
Member since:
2009-07-02

I always change this setting since I read somewhere that windows xp at least only uses 512kb max which means most of my 6MB would be unused, is this still true? Maybe it would be worth a mention since some older cpus could still easily have 1 or 2MB.

Reply Score: 1

Reformat.
by Timmmm on Wed 20th Oct 2010 10:54 UTC
Timmmm
Member since:
2006-07-25

Pretty sure it is a million times easier and better just to reformat and reinstall. If these are donated computers this has the added benefit of not needing to backup data, and removing any personal data.

Also, suggesting Abiword and Gnumeric as more lightweight alternatives to Office it pretty laughable. The latest versions of MS Office are very fast, and much more capable than Abiword/Gnumeric. You might not like it but it is true.

Simply wipe, install, then install the decent free apps users probably want: Chrome, 7zip, Paint.net, VLC, etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Reformat.
by bolomkxxviii on Wed 20th Oct 2010 11:46 UTC in reply to "Reformat."
bolomkxxviii Member since:
2006-05-19

Reformatting is the way to go. Just make sure you have all the needed drivers on hand first. As for MS Office, one problem with it is the size of the install. Older machines have relatively tiny hard drives. Windows/MS Office can nearly fill the drive leaving little room for other programs and the user's files. The problem here is many people do not donate the OEM discs (either lost or never prvided by the OEM). I haven't read the EULA recently so I don't know if the license is transferable.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Reformat.
by lemur2 on Wed 20th Oct 2010 11:57 UTC in reply to "Reformat."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Pretty sure it is a million times easier and better just to reformat and reinstall. If these are donated computers this has the added benefit of not needing to backup data, and removing any personal data.

Also, suggesting Abiword and Gnumeric as more lightweight alternatives to Office it pretty laughable. The latest versions of MS Office are very fast, and much more capable than Abiword/Gnumeric. You might not like it but it is true.


Abiword and Gnumeric are fantastic alternatives compared to Wordpad and Calc. They don't compete against MSOffice at all. MS Works used to be more of the kind of application, but AFAIK MS Works is discontinued now. Too much competition from the likes of Abiword, Gnumeric, Inkscape etc, I would imagine.

Simply wipe, install, then install the decent free apps users probably want: Chrome, 7zip, Paint.net, VLC, etc.


If you are going to use those applications, you may as well install Linux instead of Windows. Either the exact aspplications, or close equivalents, are available on Linux for all of those.

With Linux it is faster to install the OS (no product keys, no hunts for drivers, no lengthy virus database downloads), it won't get attacked by malware, applications can be searched and installed from the one package manager, it is faster, it boots much faster, it is more compatible with every other platform, it follows standards, it doesn't phone home, it respects your privacy, there are no ads, there is no "genuine advantage", there is no DRM, etc, etc, etc.

The benefits are plentiful, and if you are going to install and run "the decent free apps users probably want" anyway ... then there is no downside ... these are all native applications to Linux anyway.

Enjoy.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Reformat.
by lucas_maximus on Wed 20th Oct 2010 12:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Reformat."
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

With Linux it is faster to install the OS (no product keys, no hunts for drivers, no lengthy virus database downloads)


Install of Windows 7 took all of 15 minutes on Brother's Athlon 1700+ which has 1.5gb of ram. Didn't need to "hunt" for drivers, they were already installed.

On a newer machine, Windows Vista and 7 will connected to the internet and downloaded the 3rd party drivers I was missing, which is exactly the same thing I had to do in fedora to get my Nvidia Card working.

Installing Microsoft Security Essentials took me about 5 minutes to download and install, another few minutes to update the signatures (which happen in the background so you don't even notice it).

Windows is fine security wise once you have have the Firewall active and the antivirus setup and a decent browser such as chrome. I accept that Internet Explorer has it problems and I don't recommend it.

I am an OpenBSD user, and I like opensource software, but some of what you are saying simply isn't true anymore.

DRM etc really isn't very nice ... but then again it never has really affected me while using Vista or 7.

Installing software is easy in Linux until you have to install something that is not in a repository that you already have ... then you have to install and configure the repository and you have to make sure that it doesn't conflict with your existing ones.

With Windows I google the app, download the installer and run it. Don't have to worry about repositories.

Even with OpenBSD and FreeBSD you don't have to worry about these things ... just set up ports and your url of where packages are and the package manager sorts everything else out.

I find Linux an absolute pain to use, even compared to difficult unix like OS's such as OpenBSD and Solaris.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Reformat.
by lemur2 on Wed 20th Oct 2010 12:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Reformat."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"With Linux it is faster to install the OS (no product keys, no hunts for drivers, no lengthy virus database downloads)


Install of Windows 7 took all of 15 minutes on Brother's Athlon 1700+ which has 1.5gb of ram. Didn't need to "hunt" for drivers, they were already installed.

On a newer machine, Windows Vista and 7 will connected to the internet and downloaded the 3rd party drivers I was missing, which is exactly the same thing I had to do in fedora to get my Nvidia Card working.

Installing Microsoft Security Essentials took me about 5 minutes to download and install, another few minutes to update the signatures (which happen in the background so you don't even notice it).

Windows is fine security wise once you have have the Firewall active and the antivirus setup and a decent browser such as chrome. I accept that Internet Explorer has it problems and I don't recommend it.

I am an OpenBSD user, and I like opensource software, but some of what you are saying simply isn't true anymore.

DRM etc really isn't very nice ... but then again it never has really affected me while using Vista or 7.

Installing software is easy in Linux until you have to install something that is not in a repository that you already have ... then you have to install and configure the repository and you have to make sure that it doesn't conflict with your existing ones.

With Windows I google the app, download the installer and run it. Don't have to worry about repositories.

Even with OpenBSD and FreeBSD you don't have to worry about these things ... just set up ports and your url of where packages are and the package manager sorts everything else out.

I find Linux an absolute pain to use, even compared to difficult unix like OS's such as OpenBSD and Solaris.
"

Such misinformation and misdirection it makes me wonder what in heavens name is the point?

1. This thread is about restoring older machines to reasonable health and performance, it has nothing to do with Windows 7. Windows 7 doesn't run at all on older machines.

2. Don't try to tell me how long it takes to install Windows, anti-malware and a useful set of affordable not-too-resource-demanding desktop applications on an older machine ... it takes ages. I have done it many times, and it is an exceedingly painful and long-winded process compared to a Linux install from a LiveCD on the same machine.

3. One most certainly does have to search for drivers for older machines because the original CDs on which the drivers came is almost never available.

4. Hunting for and downloading installation files from the Internet for is a very hit and miss affair, it takes ages, and it is a very risky business because it may contain trojans. Linux application repositories and package managers are a godsend in comparison, they are exceedingly easy to use with just point-and-click installation of a huge range of software (enormous compared to BSD), and they guarantee no malware.

I could go on, but what is the point? No doubt you will try on more bullsh.. in reply.

Edited 2010-10-20 12:48 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Reformat.
by lucas_maximus on Wed 20th Oct 2010 15:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Reformat."
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

"[q]With Linux it is faster to install the OS (no product keys, no hunts for drivers, no lengthy virus database downloads)


Install of Windows 7 took all of 15 minutes on Brother's Athlon 1700+ which has 1.5gb of ram. Didn't need to "hunt" for drivers, they were already installed.

On a newer machine, Windows Vista and 7 will connected to the internet and downloaded the 3rd party drivers I was missing, which is exactly the same thing I had to do in fedora to get my Nvidia Card working.

Installing Microsoft Security Essentials took me about 5 minutes to download and install, another few minutes to update the signatures (which happen in the background so you don't even notice it).

Windows is fine security wise once you have have the Firewall active and the antivirus setup and a decent browser such as chrome. I accept that Internet Explorer has it problems and I don't recommend it.

I am an OpenBSD user, and I like opensource software, but some of what you are saying simply isn't true anymore.

DRM etc really isn't very nice ... but then again it never has really affected me while using Vista or 7.

Installing software is easy in Linux until you have to install something that is not in a repository that you already have ... then you have to install and configure the repository and you have to make sure that it doesn't conflict with your existing ones.

With Windows I google the app, download the installer and run it. Don't have to worry about repositories.

Even with OpenBSD and FreeBSD you don't have to worry about these things ... just set up ports and your url of where packages are and the package manager sorts everything else out.

I find Linux an absolute pain to use, even compared to difficult unix like OS's such as OpenBSD and Solaris.
"

Such misinformation and misdirection it makes me wonder what in heavens name is the point?

1. This thread is about restoring older machines to reasonable health and performance, it has nothing to do with Windows 7. Windows 7 doesn't run at all on older machines.

2. Don't try to tell me how long it takes to install Windows, anti-malware and a useful set of affordable not-too-resource-demanding desktop applications on an older machine ... it takes ages. I have done it many times, and it is an exceedingly painful and long-winded process compared to a Linux install from a LiveCD on the same machine.

3. One most certainly does have to search for drivers for older machines because the original CDs on which the drivers came is almost never available.

4. Hunting for and downloading installation files from the Internet for is a very hit and miss affair, it takes ages, and it is a very risky business because it may contain trojans. Linux application repositories and package managers are a godsend in comparison, they are exceedingly easy to use with just point-and-click installation of a huge range of software (enormous compared to BSD), and they guarantee no malware.

I could go on, but what is the point? No doubt you will try on more bullsh.. in reply. [/q]

1.) So an athlon 1700+ which is from 7-8 years ago is not an old machine? Runs Windows Vista and now 7 fine. Only Sub 1Ghz machines can't run Vista and 7, and even my ultraportable from 2006 with a 1.2ghz processor runs 7 fine absolutely fine.

2. Installing Microsoft Security Essentials took minutes on a 1.2 ghz laptop. Firefox took a few minutes. Office and other large apps do take a while, but so does Open Office.

3. I have done plenty of cleanups of installs for Windows on older machine, most of the new versions of Windows (this includes Windows Xp Service Pack 2, this is really the older version of windows you should be running on a machine) which has many drivers for most hardware common hardware components. Usually only the video driver needs installing and wireless drivers ... most video cards in the last 10 years are either nvidia, ati or intel ... all have easily identifiable download sites.

4. No it not a hit and miss affair ... if you think it is difficult to download software without malware on you really shouldn't be rebuilding machines. Don't download from torrents, don't download from dodgy looking sites.

Softpedia, CNET etc are now good sources because they scan the files they host for known trojans. Most sites that have files which have malware on will be screaming it is a dodgy website. If someone doesn't know the difference they should have a locked down machine.

Again if you are not sure ... you can scan the file with anti virus before you execute.

If you are talking about machines older than 2001, IMO they should be binned, especially considering how cheap and powerful modern laptops and desktops are.

Unlike you my friend I am not a Zealot ... I use whatever works.

Edited 2010-10-20 15:49 UTC

Reply Score: 3

nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

If it was not under the control of a trusted user then it should be assumed to be compromised.

I don't care if you use every scanner on the market, they still don't eliminate the risk of passing on a trojan.

Could you imagine someone getting a computer from charity and then having their identity stolen as the result?

Format C and if there is no XP key then put Linux on it. Tell the user where they can take the computer if they ever want to have Windows installed.

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

First, I would not recommend using any third party tools to clean up windows or help you do the job. I often find those programs to cause just as many, if not more, problems as then they solve.

Second, The software substitution list is a joke. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE foss software and use it almost exclusively. However, if you have a Dreamweaver, MS office, Photoshop on a donated PC that you are not going to reformat, Leave them there unless there is a really good reason not to. If the new user doesn't need/ will never need one of them, then by all means remove them. But, those are F*ing expensive a** programs who's complete functionality cannot be readily replaced by FOSS as of yet. If the user really needs them, leave them. Dream weaver especially. There absolutely is not another program in the same category as it. Even older versions are very useful.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

First, I would not recommend using any third party tools to clean up windows or help you do the job. I often find those programs to cause just as many, if not more, problems as then they solve. Second, The software substitution list is a joke. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE foss software and use it almost exclusively. However, if you have a Dreamweaver, MS office, Photoshop on a donated PC that you are not going to reformat, Leave them there unless there is a really good reason not to. If the new user doesn't need/ will never need one of them, then by all means remove them. But, those are F*ing expensive a** programs who's complete functionality cannot be readily replaced by FOSS as of yet. If the user really needs them, leave them. Dream weaver especially. There absolutely is not another program in the same category as it. Even older versions are very useful.


This is very true. Precisely spot on.

However, having noted that ... it remains a very difficult task to "clean" a Windows machine if it has become compromised and clogged up. People in that situation, where they have expensive programs installed on a machine where the Windows OS has been messed up, unfortunately find themselves very much between a rock and a hard place.

In general though, even though it sucks, I agree with the recommendation above. If there is expensive software installed on a machine, even a nearly-borked machine, then do not reformat, leave it there unless there is a really good reason not to.

In this situation, an attempt to "clean and tune" the machine is worth the effort.

Reply Score: 2

Don't believe its easy at all
by alcibiades on Wed 20th Oct 2010 16:49 UTC
alcibiades
Member since:
2005-10-12

...a step-by-step procedure by which you can easily remove malware from most computers...

I'm no expert, but a while back I spent quite some time on a consulting assignment in the company of an IT department who really were serious experts. Their view, and they convinced me they were right, was that you cannot remove malware from an infected windows machine with an acceptable level of certainty. They did not even try.

Their reasoning was, how do you know you have succeeded? How do you prove a negative? They thought the risk reward ratio was so far against them that they simply reformatted and reinstalled from optical media. They were prepared to recover selected document files. but mostly all that survived was unformatted text however.

I concluded that if these guys could not do it, I certainly could not, and what I say to people now is, they have two choices if they want me to do it. One is Linux. The other is a new clean windows install.

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Agreed. The amount of time spent is non trivial, and as you said the risk is that you will leave some malware around. I still do it every now and then for people who have lost their install cds for their os and apps. Its not for the faint of heart or those that charge by the hour. There are no guarantees that it will work, which is okay if you are charging them in non monetary amounts.

Reply Score: 2

The myth that wouldn't die
by DerGenosse on Thu 21st Oct 2010 06:37 UTC
DerGenosse
Member since:
2010-01-11

Windows performance deteriorates over time.

No, it doesn't. You state it like it's a fact. Unfortunately that doesn't make it true.

Reply Score: 1

RE: The myth that wouldn't die
by lemur2 on Thu 21st Oct 2010 08:58 UTC in reply to "The myth that wouldn't die"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Windows performance deteriorates over time.

No, it doesn't. You state it like it's a fact. Unfortunately that doesn't make it true.


Your issue is with the author of the original article, Howard Fosdick. Those words are quoted from the opening paragraph Howard wrote.

FTA:
Why Tune?
I volunteer with a charity that accepts computer donations, refurbishes them, and gets them to people who can't afford new computers. A quarter of the donations we receive are perfectly good computers that are tossed out simply because Windows needs a tune-up.

Windows performance deteriorates over time. Just like your car, Windows needs to be tuned up to perform right. Unfortunately most people don't know this. They consider their computer to be more like their TV or microwave oven -- no maintenance needed. What a shame, when so many computers could stay in service with a simple tune up.

This article gives you a quick overview of how tune up a slowing Windows system.


My bold.

Mr Fosdick appears to have a great deal of experience in the matter. Take it up with him.

Edited 2010-10-21 09:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Program to cleanup old windows files
by ronaldvr on Thu 21st Oct 2010 09:21 UTC
ronaldvr
Member since:
2010-10-21

You asked for a program that cleans up old windows files reliably. I always use Frackyes SystemCleanup:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~franckey/franckey/software/systemcleanup.htm


Find and remove temporary, cache, history and backup files on all your local and network drives. System Cleanup will protect recent used files. Drives and folders can be manually added to an exclude list to protect files and improve disc reading speed.


I find it reliable, it does not need to be installed (it is an standalone executable).

Reply Score: 1

Comments on Linux Here are Bogus
by benali72 on Sun 24th Oct 2010 18:29 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

It's sad that some people, when they read an article like this, feel compelled to promote their pet operating systems.

Why can't they accept the article on its own terms?

I use Windows and Linux, and I don't like Apple. But I don't feel compelled to post "Use Windows! Use Windows! Use Windows!" every time I see an article on Apple. Just skip the article if it doesn't interest you... because your off-topic comments don't interest us.

Reply Score: 1