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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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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent Score: 0

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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent Score: 1