How to speed up M$ Windows [only kidding]

I just came across this post and couldn’t resist a comment or two…

At first I thought it was just a bit funny and would give me a chance to take another “quick pop” at M$. But the more I read and thought about this article, the more serious I think it’s, very accurate, observations are:

Before I get going though, the source blog is entitled 4sysops and I am not knocking the author, Michael Pietroforte, in anyway, shape or form. He admits to using some Linux his University anyway 🙂 I’m sure Michael is competent, knowledgeable and a great sys admin. And it isn’t his fault that Windows is so slow and crappy is it? [In fact, if you pick this up Michael, I would love to hear your opinions on Open Source alternatives, how they “fit” in your University, and I’d really welcome any comments you have on how Linux may be worse or more troublesome than Windows.]

Anyway the piece in question is called “Windows is so slow? 10.5 ways how to speed up Windows XP or Vista“. Lets take a look at a couple of the suggestions he makes.

Uninstall unused programs

I used to use Windows too. And the number of times I tried to remove stuff and it didn’t work or left stuff lying around or clogging up that beast, the registry. I found the only real solution was to buy some more software to clean the system regularly.

Defragment the hard drive

Yep, I had to do that too; before I discovered Linux. Yet another program you have to buy from somebody else because M$’s defrag is not too hot. If you are interested, try Google for “defrag linux” and see what you get 😉

Locate malfunctioning programs
Sometimes a computer hangs even though there are no performance consuming tasks running…

Oh yes, I remember that happening too! Vaguely. Weird times when the thing would just stop. . . CTL-ALT-DEL didn’t do much either. The power button worked though. Funnily enough, this hasn’t happened to me at all since I started using Linux all the time.

Add system memory
If all the tips above didn’t help, you probably just need more memory.

Hmmmm, who was it who said no one would ever need more than 640K of memory? ‘If in doubt, add more RAM; that should fix it’ is the usual M$ response. Each release and update seems to consume more and more of the stuff. Maybe they hold shares in the ram chip makers???

Replace system files with their original version
Some applications replace Windows system files during the installation procedure…

How scary is this? One of the biggest problems with Windows , aside from the generally poor reliability & performance, is it’s lack of proper user based security. Under Linux, Unix, Solaris and even Macs (now they use a BSD core) this can’t happen unless you are stupid enough to run as root. A normal user just can’t do this. With Windows, any user can pretty much simply download, or slot in a disk/CD, and install what they want. The install routines can write over pretty much anything on the hard disk. Be afraid. Be very afraid…

Reinstall Windows

Yes. This was the only real solution I found too. About once every 12-18 months things got so bad that it was worth a day or so to rebuild everything. But, you have to be very diligent about backing up your data. Because Windows puts your stuff all over place: some of it in the Docs and Settings folders hierarchy, some in My Documents, some in the registry, and some just randomly dotted about that you will never find because you can’t “grep” for file contents that easily… Unix systems [by their design], and if they follow the FHS, will keep your data and all your personal settings in your /home/your_username directory. System and application configuration files will be in /etc. That’s it. Simple. Keep your home directory on a separate disk partition and you can run multiple operating systems but just have one place for your stuff. Irrespective of what OS you choose to run. Try and do this with Windows.

Michael’s final comment, a bit tongue in cheek I’m sure but:

Try Meditation
Meditation can help you to be much more relaxed next time when your compi doesn’t react for several minutes while you are working under time pressure.

Blimey; several minutes… I forgot just how bad Windows really is.

Go on; try Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora, Gentoo, Debian, or any of the many other free and open source alternatives. I don’t think you’ll suffer from ANY of the above problems.

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  • Michael says:

    Alan, I personally don’t see any Open Source alternative for Vista at the moment. However, some faculties on our university see this differently. They moved completely to Linux. Their students are usually science students though. Perhaps that’s why they have fewer problems switching from Windows to Linux than students of the humanities. Our students simply expect MS Office. They use it on their computers at home and this is what they have to know when they later get a job. Yet, I always would prefer Linux as server software to host content management systems. In this field, Open Source is the better choice in my view.

  • Alan Lord says:

    Thanks for commenting Michael. As I mention in a more recent article, M$’s Office dominance of the market “may” well be on the wane. With SaaS solutions and ever increasing deployments of OOo perhaps there will be an alternative soon.

    Anyway good luck with supporting Vista – it sounds like you’ll need it. Since migrating my desktop to Ubuntu I have suffered none of the problems you described in your article.



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