Windows Rot


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sy64

If the uninstallers removed every single element the installer stuck on our system in the first place we wouldn't need to reinstall and a lot of problems with system slow down or "windows rot" (I like that term) wouldn't even occur.

There should be some kind of regulation in place stating that all files/ reg entries, etc added on installation are removed on unistallation. Forget all the crap about keeping serial numbers or other crap for reinstallation, that's all a load of bollox IMHO if you uninstall a program it should be off your system for good!!!

raaaa, lets get pitch forks, axes and fire and have a witch hunt and all that... ok maybe not but you know what I'm trying to say

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abcdefg
"Windows rot" is really just the inability to do basic computer maintenance.

Please define "basic computer maintenance". I want to learn that.

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xcguy87
Couldn't agree more. Inability or lack of willingness - either way, computers don't maintain themselves ;)

Would you rather have an OS that requires alot of maintenance or a minimal amount?

In my experience, Windows requires a lot more maintenance then other comparable OSs.

Just look at most of their file systems.

That is my only argument when saying that the OS could be more robust.

If they could make some enhancements to the way the OS works, wouldn't it be nice to cut down on the amount of maintenance you must preform?

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t_r_nelson

"Windows rot" occurs on a couple of levels. One is user-based and this can be minimized through careful maintenance of drives, drive space, crapware, adware, malware, virus, drivers, etc.

But another big issue is poorly written software that, when removed, does not actually remove itself. How many of you have removed something and then taken a look at the install location and found that the folders are still there (some with files in them)? Or looked in the registry to see that there is a ton of leftover keys that refer to the "removed" program?

This really comes into play for those people that install a bunch of programs "to test them" and then remove them later. The automatic uninstall undoubtedly leaves remants of the program on your system. Then add in the fact of malware that may have accompianied the software you just installed and removed. Ugh....

Basically, carefully selecting what goes on your system will go a long way to keeping it clean. Then add in the maintenance and your system should stay nice and speedy for a long time.

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berz
Who here remembers the old Win3.1 style of having .ini files for everything installed?

Aaah, yes. I also remember all the Windows 95 technical marketing propagan..err...materials that promised freedom from "INI hell".

Frankly, with efficient file systems and high speed storage subsystems, it may not be such a big deal to have a central repository of individual config files - heck, OS X uses XML-based PLISTs for everything under the sun and it chugs along decently.

While I certainly don't have any huge problems with the registry, there are other alternatives than Win3.1 INI hell >:)

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Xenomorph

Windows itself does not degrade.

Win16/Win9x would probably require a reboot due to the way the old GDI stuff worked. As far as I know, that was a trade-off for backwards compatibility reasons.

WinNT should be able to run non stop, for months or years on end, without a re-boot or re-install.

I have a screenshot somewhere of a Windows 2000 system with something like 18,432 hours uptime (768 days). The last reboot was because of some patches. The only issue with uptime like that is obviously its missed quite a few updates since then.

I worked on a friend's computer a few years back that had Windows 3.1 still on it. The directory structure showed that it was installed in 1993, and it was still running its first and only install of Windows. They used MS Works and played games just fine on it. They had no stability issues or a desire for a faster system. You could argue that it didn't rely on a registry as much as it relied on INI files.

I set up an old laptop for my ex-wife. I warned her that it wasn't super fast. It's a Pentium MMX system with Windows 98SE. It's had the same install for a long time now and runs stable and fine.

The issue with Windows crashing or performance bogging down comes from people installing a ton of stuff and not maintaining their computer.

I've shocked people by showing them the night and day performance they'd get by running MSConfig and clicking "Disable All".

- Keeping un-needed programs from loading on Startup (the \Run locations in the registry or \Startup folder) helps things a lot. MSConfig handles this well.

- Using something like AutoRuns and removing items from starting with the system as Browser Helper Objects, Shell Extensions, Context Menu Extensions, etc - can help things a lot, and even stop some pesky malware.

- Use something like CCleaner. In fact, don't use something "like" CCleaner, only use CCleaner. Ignore all other "cleanup" tools, especially ones that charge money. CCleaner does a pretty good job of cleaning out junk. You may think it's registry cleaning is snake oil, but I don't have any issues with it.

- Search other other temp files and junk left on the system. The built in Disk Cleanup and CCleaner only cleans the current user's locations.

- Go ahead and run ChkDsk.

- Defrag! There is hardly a reason to pay for a Defragmenter now either unless you have a good reason to. There are at least half a dozen disk defragmenter options out there. Defraggler and JkDefrag should be fine for most, and PageDefrag can help in Windows XP or 2000.

- Try to make note of the device drivers you install. Vista seems to be the first version of Windows that attempts to clean up old drivers when you remove a device. Try to use the most recent or WHQL drivers if you can, or use the ones known to be the best (they may not always be the latest or even WHQL).

- Remove un-needed apps and pre-installed junk.

Windows itself is fine, but it does a poor job of cleaning up after itself. If YOU clean up after it and make sure to do some preventive maintenance (when is the last time you looked for "disk" errors in your Event Viewer??), it should be able to run fine and stable for a long, long time.

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Brandon Live
Would you rather have an OS that requires alot of maintenance or a minimal amount?

In my experience, Windows requires a lot more maintenance then other comparable OSs.

Just look at most of their file systems.

What is that supposed to mean?

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MrFuji
So basically, if you're going to have a managed system, push it to the end, and don't leave to a random guy's installer software.
Or say you accidentally delete a program and the OS automatically removes your settings...

A package manager like most linux distributions have would be perfect for that. In Ubuntu, for example, if you remove a program, you can choose if it should be *fully* removed or just "removed" without touching user configuration (not sure how much linux stores in these ".folders" in the user folder though).

Perhaps if all programs would use the Windows Installer (which is probably the closest to a central package manager) we wouldn't have so many problems...

edit: Very good points, Xenomorph! Couldn't agree more...

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Mr. Gibs
A package manager like most linux distributions have would be perfect for that. In Ubuntu, for example, if you remove a program, you can choose if it should be *fully* removed or just "removed" without touching user configuration (not sure how much linux stores in these ".folders" in the user folder though).

Perhaps if all programs would use the Windows Installer (which is probably the closest to a central package manager) we wouldn't have so many problems...

edit: Very good points, Xenomorph!

True, also the problem doesn't lie with the registry. It lies with the fact that many installers install stuff to the registry. However, when it comes to uninstalling the stuff many just leave their registry enteries and folders.

The registry is not the problem, and removing it will just destroy windows. Imagine having to do an entire re-write of windows, and every program that runs on it?

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backdrifter
I remember reformatting Windows 98 because it got slow, but ever since Windows 2000 I haven't had those sorts of problems. I would guess that *most* cases of computers slowing down over time have to do with lots of malware or apps that run in the background being installed, not the registry.

People complain a lot about the registry being bad, but I think those are probably the same people who need to have 98% of their RAM and hard disk free at all times :p

How is the OS supposed to know that it's time to remove the data? Maybe you just want to re-install an application and keep all your settings. Or say you accidentally delete a program and the OS automatically removes your settings... I wouldn't want that. Leaving around a few registry values is not going to hurt anything IMO. It's kind of like the people who insist on using AppZapper on Mac OS to remove pref files, is it really that big of a deal?

Although, Microsoft has been pushing the use of .config files in the latest versions of Visual Studio for .NET apps, so maybe they'd like to get general applications to stop using the registry if it's not necessary. Maybe Brandon can comment on this.

Well, isnt't that what the user/appdata folders are for? I'm saying the OS should keep track of systemwide configuration changes (like file associations) and remove them with the program.

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+allan
What is that supposed to mean?

+1 ???

xcguy87 - Can you imagine owning an expensive car (guess they're ALL expensive these days :) ) and not maintaining it properly? No oil changes or lubes, never checking tire pressure, no tune-ups and then when it breaks down blaming the car manufacturer because the vehicle required regular maintenance that you either chose not to do or didn't know how to do?

Computers are no different. They represent a fairly sizable investment and it's up to you to maintain them properly. If you don't, you'll pay the price ;)

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Borbus

Not using the registry would be one step towards improving Windows no end. Config files are so much better.

For a start they are human readable, so just edit them instead of using some bloated GUI. But the biggest advantage is portability. With the registry it seems MS never expect you to reinstall the OS, even though the registry itself forces you to. I run Linux and have my home directory on a separate partition. I can switch distros and reinstall them or whatever I need to do, but my home directory remains intact. Since every user setting is placed in the home directory, all of my settings stay with me across distros and installations... with absolutely no effort. Forget running "files and settings wizard" or whatever you have to do with Windows which only really keeps half your settings.

Note that some Windows apps do place settings in a similar way in a place called %appdata% on Windows. You can back this up quite easily even though it isn't quite as convenient as a home directory.

Also config files simply use disk space. If you don't use the app they aren't touched. I probably have config files from apps I've had in the past but don't have now. They're using disk space, but that's not really an issue. The settings will still be there if and when I need them with no performance decrease in the meantime.

I think if you were to just install Windows then install the apps you need and take a benchmark, you would find it would be the same speed as long as you don't install anything else ever (not taking into account patches from MS, of course). The "Rot" is basically caused by users adding and removing hundreds of applications which does fill up the registry even if after you remove them. However, this adding and removing is perfectly fine with a system that doesn't use a registry because disk usage doesn't slow a PC down.

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+Fahim S.

I found that my Windows XP installations suffer badly from Windows Rot whereas Vista doesn't.

For me an XP installtion starts really creeking at 10 months, but my 14 month old Vista installation is still smooth as butter.

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xcguy87
+1 ???

xcguy87 - Can you imagine owning an expensive car (guess they're ALL expensive these days :) ) and not maintaining it properly? No oil changes or lubes, never checking tire pressure, no tune-ups and then when it breaks down blaming the car manufacturer because the vehicle required regular maintenance that you either chose not to do or didn't know how to do?

Computers are no different. They represent a fairly sizable investment and it's up to you to maintain them properly. If you don't, you'll pay the price ;)

All I am saying is that other operating systems clean up fairly better then Windows does. They also require less maintenance then Windows. For example, the ext2-4 file systems do not require regular defragmentation, since the file system handles placement of the data more efficiently. Also, there is no major need to run anti-virus or anti-spyware scans on *NIX systems (including OSX). Also, when uninstalling an application on unix or linux i always remove it's config file from /etc because that is where it always is. I don't have to go hunting around for bits and pieces of data the program has left behind. Most *NIX programs read a configuration file from /etc on startup, and then write to it on close. This reduces the need for a registry bloating RAM. I really like Windows, it's my favorite OS. I just get tired of constantly "maintaining" it.

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Huleboeren
I'm a firm believer that if someone maintains his or her system correctly and practices safe and smart computing, the system should never require a reformat and OS should never need to be reinstalled (absent HD failure, of course). The possibility that "most people on these forums have done yearly reinstalls at a minimum" speaks volumes (at least to me) about their inability to maintain the system properly. There are certainly exceptions - such as Neobond and others who are frequent alpha & beta testers - but for the typical home or business user a properly maintained 7 year old system should run almost as efficiently as the day it was unpacked.

You must live a very boring software life :p

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itsnotabigtruck
<snipped>

Other OSes have equivalents for things like file associations, even if they store them in files. And they tend to suffer significant limitations because of that, including a lack of coordination and consistency across the OS and apps. Also, most OSes don't support COM. Apparently the Mac OS actually does, but without a registry - so you have to know exactly where the binary containing the COM object lives, no indirection, no CoCreateInstance, no registration of proxy stubs, etc. Registry-free COM works on Windows too, and you can just define everything you need in your application manifest. But that gets very little practical use, since most COM servers you use probably don't ship with your app.

<snipped>

Wait a minute...you're actually citing COM as a good design element of Windows?!?!

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slammer55

This whole windows rot thing is pretty simple really....Don't want your computer to slow down? Then watch less pr0n. Otherwise deal with it. :yes:

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somethingthatrhymes

lol wtf? Porn is just video/images. It wouldn't have any rotting effect at all...

I'm a firm believer that if someone maintains his or her system correctly and practices safe and smart computing

read: doesn't actually use the computer.

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+allan
lol wtf? Porn is just video/images. It wouldn't have any rotting effect at all...

read: doesn't actually use the computer.

Is there some reason you feel a need to display your ignorance on a public forum for people all over the world to see?

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HawkMan

I use my computer. and over the yars I've installed all kinds of crap on it, and I dont' do much in the way of maintenance on it.

heck I don't think I've run a manual defrag since win2k :)

Granted I don't install badware or spyware or crap like that.

and I've never really experienced this windows rot. I even did a test with my old XP install that had been installed for 1-2 years or somethign and been abused in almost every way possible. First I ran one of the good trusted registry "cleaners", wich repaired and fixed thousands of "errors". Guess what. No change. So I did a clean install. and outside of a cleaner start menu on lots no codecs and all that, again, no change, still performed just as good as it did before.

Then I installed my new hardware and did the actual system reinstall laughing at the peopel who reinstall their systems twice a month, citing windows rot while installign every badware and crapware from popups and "system error" ads they come across on the net.

Just don't do stupid things and your system won't slow down.

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Angel Blue01

I havn't installed Windows on my machine computer since 2005, its slowing down a lot but I need to defrag

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+BudMan

This windows xp machine - which is my main windows machine here at home;

Original Install Date: 8/8/2004, 9:10:42 AM

It would be older even, but back in 2004 was when I went to a raid 0 setup, etc.

As many people have already stated, there is no such thing as windows rot.

I install/uninstall lots an lots of alpha/beta software - I have never in ran a registry cleaner, they are pointless and do way more harm then good! Especially in the hands of users that no idea what it is telling them it wants to delete.

The only reason to do a reinstall of a your OS would be a major virus/malware infection, or hardware change or failure that replacement.

But I also have to agree with statements about lots of people around here reinstalling windows at the drop of the hat. There seems to be many people infected with WRS "windows reinstall syndrome" around here. That does not mean it has any merit, or there was any real reason for them to do such a thing.

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abcdefg
I install/uninstall lots an lots of alpha/beta software - I have never in ran a registry cleaner, they are pointless and do way more harm then good!

So what do you do when a software refuses to install because of remnants of its older install? iTunes did that few weeks ago. I Ccleaned a bit and was able to install.

The only reason to do a reinstall of a your OS would be a major virus/malware infection, or hardware change or failure that replacement.

Windos suicide is another reason. But I've learned my lesson and do mostly portable installs to avoid rot.

(Damn Monkey Developers™, just installed Doom3 and it dumped INI file into c:\windows... A-holes... well it was sandboxed installation)

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ring0
I'd say your definitely in the extreme minority. a 7 year old XP install can't be fun to work with.

I'd wager that most people on these forums have done yearly reinstalls at a minimum, prior to Vista.

i'd wager that 99.9%+ of the users out there don't give half a "fudge" about taking real care of or doing any kind of maintenance on their machines, which is what leads to the need for constant reinstalls.

even my old win95 installations survived fairly well, considering i was a youngster who was playing around with everything i could get my hands on, but i've never had a 2k/xp/2003/vista install that needed to be wiped/reinstalled due to slowness. just major things like huge hardware overhauls.

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Unto Darkness
My friend, my first computer (other than an Atari 800) was an AT&T 6300 in 1985 running DOS 3.3. It came with a whopping 640 Kilobytes of RAM and a 10 Mebabyte HD!!!

Man you still have that computer? Keep it and treasure it for life! :D Serious!

Couldn't agree more. Inability or lack of willingness - either way, computers don't maintain themselves ;)

As tech people say, "Garbage in, garbage out" :p

Well if you know what you are doing on your computer, you shouldn't have any problems of "rot" at all. For example, if you know what you are doing online and stuff, you won't even need an antivirus [like me] and reclaim useful resources on your computer.

I don't think reformatting your compter every 6 months shows how ignorant you are. I do it all the time because I am just so picky. :D

Work intelligenty, know what you are doing.

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