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NotAComputerGuy 04-17-2013 12:29 PM

Windows Related: Why Does Windows Always Grind to a Halt?
Apologies for the Windows thread, I'm a long term Linux user and I hate using Windows, unfortunately my work has adopted a piece of software that requires me to use Windows, so alas, I'm forced to use it on a bi-weekly basis.

With this in mind, I use the computer twice a week for the use of this rubbish new software work use and whilst I'm in Windows I use MS Office, Putty, Dropbox, Firefox with a few add-ons such as Adblock and a virus Scanner. Nothing else gets used or installed other than Windows updates.

My question is this: How come Windows will inevitably grind to a halt? The laptop is so much slower than it ever used to be. It's getting to the point where I can barely use it. A search shows that I can download hundreds of programs that will apparently fix it, but I don't get it. Is there anything that I can do that will produce good results in speeding the computer up?

When I run my Linux installation from a USB key it's lighting quick, so it's not the PC itself.


H_TeXMeX_H 04-17-2013 01:11 PM

They call it Window$ rot. Over time it gets slower, crappier, buggier until it finally becomes unusable. The only solution is a re-install ... preferably a Linux distro or BSD.

There is no other solution that works. I know that in the past I have used various crap cleaners and registry cleaners and antivirus, but it doesn't have much effect.

I heard some people use software that freezes Window$ so that its state refreshes with each reboot. Never tried, because you have to pay for the software.

You know the best FLOSS solution.

mlslk31 04-17-2013 01:41 PM

Unless your Windows PC has a virus or malware on it, you should study all about what makes Windows programs start, so you can stop those programs. There's a Startup folder that's been around since the Windows 3.x days, if not before then. There are multiple Run keys in the Windows Registry that serve a similar function, especially for Windows 9x-style programs. Just open regedit.exe, search for the "RunOnce" keys, and the "Run" key will be just before it. There are control panels to determine which NT-style services start, such as in the "Administrative Tools" section of the Control Panel folder in XP, and so on and so forth.

But you've provided no detail whatsoever, not even what version of Windows you use. So for quick guesses...

If that one program you're required to use depends on .NET, well, good luck. .NET can weigh down an otherwise clean and slick Windows system. That virus scanner can weigh down the PC quite a bit, too. Old advice that may still be true, maybe not: Just avoid Norton anything. You'll be rewarded sooner or later.

Then there's the matter of crappy video drivers, lack of RAM, Windows Update sometimes checking your PC so it can check for updates, background downloads, and so on...

It's all a mix of subsystems coming together, just like Linux is becoming, and for best results, you should study Windows just the same.

Remember one thing, though: On Windows, you get what you pay for. If you see something like "we'll solve all of your Windows speed problems for free," assume that it's a scam of some sort until proven otherwise.

It's best to install your Windows programs once, don't uninstall very often, and really leave it all alone. If at all possible, if you ever find yourself in a position to reinstall Windows, try to get as close to installing from a retail Windows disk as is possible. For every PC I have to install, I get the same argument: "Why do you want to reinstall Windows when it was installed at the factory, with all of this bonus software on it?" And when I reinstall Windows way down the road from the Windows installer, the results get the same reaction: "Wow! My computer wasn't this fast when it was new! What did you do?" Ugh.

JWJones 04-17-2013 01:56 PM


Originally Posted by mlslk31 (Post 4933377)
It's best to install your Windows programs once, don't uninstall very often, and really leave it all alone.

I think this is key, right here. The only reason the Windows "servers" here at work continue to function as well as they do is because they do one thing, nothing changes, and nothing new gets installed. The workstations used by the sales, administration, and customer service folks... that's another story. Those things are horrible, slow disasters. I'm always having to remove malware and fix settings that somehow seem to change themselves. Very irritating.

jlinkels 04-17-2013 01:58 PM

No one really cares that Windows get slower. Consumer users think it is normal their computer gets slower over time and they need a new one.

Business users: recently I had a service call at someone who complained about long time needed for starting up. About 30 minutes or so. The case was that Windows was copying the user's profile from the server to the local machine. A few GB. The IT company of this customer said: "yeah, that is normal, computers get slower when they get older. You need to invest in new hardware". Most customers, totally ignorant accept this, and once new hardware is installed, the old profile is cleaned or removed and the new hardware is faster.

No IT company is complaining or feeling the urge to inform their customers, either business or consumer. Who is turning down their own turnover. And when there is no urgent need, who will remove those reasons for computers clogging their resources?

The customer is mine now :)


NotAComputerGuy 04-17-2013 02:08 PM

Apologies, I realise that my original post was more of a rant with lack of information than it was informative, but I'm genuinely not a computer guy, hence the user name. I'm a healthcare professional who cares for and looks after people, not computers. Thanks to the litigious nature we've adopted, we are being forced slowly but surely to be using more of these compulsory applications. They don't want to pay me over time for staying in work to get it done so I have to go home and get work done, hence the work laptop.

Anyway, some information to aid in any useful suggestions (I will certainly have a look to see what's being started!) I have a Lenovo B570, running Windows 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1, 64bit, $GB RAM, it's a Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-2330M CPU @ 2.20GHz 2.20GHZ. Not sure what else there is to say I'm afraid. I have no idea if I have a .NET.

273 04-17-2013 02:19 PM

I agree with the consensus that it's adding and removing things that causes problems. One reason for this is that every program installed adds some registry keys and searches the registry for those keys every time it runs. The registry is, in my opinion, one of the worst design decisions in windows -- making all programs rely upon a central database file for their operation meaning that a problem with one application can cause havoc with another (though, admittedly, it's generally not havoc just slowness).
Oddly the last place I worked a guy had a perfectly good Windows 7 laptop that was showing signs of slowing but not in a way I could pin down -- was almost as if the CPU was permanently throttled but it didn't look like it though it is hard to tell in Windows 7. I used to know Windows inside-out but I'm not up on the newer versions much and this had me puzzled.

dugan 04-17-2013 02:19 PM

It's almost certainly not the only factor, but are you defragmenting regularly enough?

NotAComputerGuy 04-17-2013 02:35 PM

I have never fragmented it, I thought modern file systems didn't require it? Does Windows not use EXT3 or EXT4?

dugan 04-17-2013 02:37 PM


Originally Posted by NotAComputerGuy (Post 4933425)
I have never fragmented it, I thought modern file systems didn't require it? Does Windows not use EXT3 or EXT4?

No, Windows uses NTFS. You fragment it more each time you delete anything.

273 04-17-2013 02:38 PM

It think Win7 may be set to automatically defrag every few days or something? Certainly there is that option.

273 04-17-2013 02:39 PM


Originally Posted by dugan (Post 4933427)
No, Windows uses NTFS. You fragment it more each time you delete anything.

Not wanting to get too much into this but surely that is true of any file system unless it moves other files to fill the gaps?

NotAComputerGuy 04-17-2013 02:40 PM

I've just searched and discovered that along with how to do it. Freudian slip with "I've never fragmented it", I intended to say defragmented it. I will give that a go.

derekpock 04-17-2013 03:24 PM

Window Smashing
Ahh...Widows...if you don't have a problem, it will make it for you!

There are many possible reasons why this is happening. I will need some OS specs for further information, but right now, here are a couple of tips:

Clean up useless files -
Go here and download CCleaner free and run "Run CCleaner" once you open it. This will clear your cache from all internet sights and any other files that Windows does not need, ie - will slow it down. This is a great program, I recommend it highly. You may also click the registry tab - search for issues and fix all selected issues. No need to back up registry, but if you must... This will also speed up computer use exponentially.

Defragment files -
This is another tool form piriform - all piriform tools are very useful, inlcuding the recuva and seccy - recuva is the best one for recovering files, specy for system specs. Download the free defraggler and run it in windows. Click "run defraggler" to start this process. This will take usually 8 hours for a standard disk that has never been defragmented. DO NOT USE THIS if you are running on an SSD(solid state drive). This basically move your files on you HDD so that all files are together, not split apart into different parts of the HD. Windows defragmenter is weak, so I don't usually use it.

Remove Startup Programs -
This tool will allow you to remove certain program from starting. This is useful for start-up boosts. Remove any programs that you would like. A good way to tell if it is safe to remove is if it has a icon file associated with the task. If not, then its a system file. If you need help on this, let me know.

Remove Unused Programs - use CCleaner
One of the tags under CCleaner is other options. Here you have multiple windows. Use the program remover to...well...remove programs. :) any that you dont tend to use, just remove it...should speed system up... This is another place where HIDDEN virus and adware can be uninstalled. If you try the uninstaller, and it fails, go to the directory in C:/Program Files/ then remove the folder entirely. Then re-run CCleaner.

Be sensible
Do not have twenty windows open at the same time...its windows... Do not look up or download any keygens, almost all of those are malware.
Also, use a sensible antivirus ( Do NOT use Norton, it has been linked to many security issues. Use either Avast!, AVG, or Windows Defender. If you are willing to pay some money, you can use Kaspersky AV, which is the top of the top AV. Do NOT use multiple AV's this is what slows you pc down the most. Its possible you have Windows Defender and another AV already installed, remove one of them. They tend to scan each other at the same time, then they scan what the other is scanning, which is itself...just don't have two.
Use a task manager Run...taskmgr to see what is taking much CPU, that is #1 problem most of the time. Second, if you are running WVista or newer, open Resource Monitor and find what is using you HDD.

Hope This Helps! Let me know if you want more!

Derek Pockrandt

TobiSGD 04-17-2013 04:13 PM

That Windows gets slower over time is something that is mostly caused by three factors:

- The user. Many users, especially the consumer type, just can't withstand the offers for (allegedly) free Windows software you can see everywhere on the net. They install software without even knowing what it is for, just to test what it is and if it is useful for them. Often that software comes with other software offerings in the installer which has explicitly to be disabled (which also is even often not possible if you don't choose "advanced" or "expert" install options) if you don't want it. Many users just click the "Next" button at this point, installing software without even knowing that they do it. If they remove the software they initially wanted to install those other software is kept on the system, often with automatic start up routines registered to the system. To check that you can simply use the msconfig program, part of any Windows installation even back to Windows 98 (for some mysterious reason not Windows 2000), or you use the Autoruns program linked to by derekpock, which was originally developed by SysInternals, but bought by Microsoft.

- The lack of package management: Unlike on most Linux distributions, Windows lacks package management and with that automatic dependency resolution. That means that the installers and, more important, the uninstall routines mostly are written by the application developers and to be honest, many do a really bad job with that, leaving files on the system that often still are registered for automatic startup but don't work anymore as they should, slowing down startup and sometimes throwing error-messages all over the place. This could be avoided when Windows would use a package management system for all applications (with MSI they have at least some kind of package management, but no developer is forced to actually use it). The second thing, automatic dependency management, could avoid situations like described above, where a software is installed because the user didn't uncheck an option in the installer of a different software.

- The third problem is a mix of of the first two points: The user and the lack of package management. Most Windows users are consumers, which automatically promotes them to system administrators. The problem is that most consumer users don't want to be system administrators, in the sense that they don't see a reason to properly learn Windows administration. Even many experienced Unix/Linux administrators just refuse to learn something about that topic (often just because they believe that Windows is a toy OS). Proper package management would make it much easier for those people to at least avoid the most prevalent culprits, as you can see on distributions that are aimed to be consumer-friendly (I avoid the term user-friendly, if possible, since that is a very ambiguous term), like Ubuntu, Mint or openSuse. What you also see often on those consumer-friendly distros are users that are annoyed by the need to elevate their rights (using sudo or su) and want to run their systems as root all the time, a behavior that you also can see with Windows users (just do a web-search for "disable UAC"), caused by the lack of knowledge about system administration. On Windows that leads to literally thousands, if not millions, of malware infected systems, something that possibly may see in the future on consumer Linux systems, if Linux gets a larger marketshare (a situation that already is a problem on Android, for example).

On the other hand, if you see Windows systems that are managed by experienced Windows administrators you will notice that Windows can be as fast, secure and stable as a Linux system and that it doesn't get slower over time if it is properly maintained. Before I came to Linux I invested quite some time to learn how a Windows system works and how one can maintain it properly, and I can assure that my Windows system does not become slower over time. I usually have to re-install/recover a backup of any of my OSes only if a) I destroyed it (caused learning by doing/breaking or just acting without thinking), or b) I do major hardware changes.

It comes down to: If you want to or have to maintain a Windows system then learn how to do that properly, just as you would do (or have done) on Linux/Unix.

Sorry for the wall of text.

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