Windows Rot


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NeoFyle

As far as the registry bloat question I can only say this. Don't install applications and crapware that you won't use. I consider myself a minimalist in that I only install applications on an as needed basis. If I know an application wont work or will screw up something with my system I wont use it. I dont use 15 different applications that do the same thing. I dont use Nero, or EMC (Easy Media Creator) or any applications like that because Vista has that functionality, I use Alchohol 120 for burning ISO's and data discs (when I have to) Storage is so cheap that why bother burning anything anymore? I have my tunes and vid's on backup drives. I use online backup solutions as that is alot better than swapping discs trying to restore stuff for other people. With internet connectivity it's moving more to online apps which are better. I do use Office 2003 as I dont like the ribbons in 2007 and it wasn't enough of an upgrade to justify the price. I don't use ad driven applications either. I am an itunes convert to Windows Media Player 11 as itunes as great as people say Apple is, it has become too bloated, too dated GUI wise.

Just my two cents..

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abecedarian paradoxious
That's like saying, remember how cars only had 3 gears and not 5? (or 6 in some new cars). :p

Your post reminded me of a '67 Mustang my father had: straight-6, 3 speed stickshift... and this high-school jock and his '80 turbo trans-am couldn't keep up with it in spite of (despite?) its 5-speed transmission.

Just as valid was my own experience with an '84 Chrysler Laser Turbo with 3 speed automatic (no overdrive {lock-up converter? huh?} on the FWD chryslers back then) and my bud's '87 Dodge Daytona Turbo-Z with 5-speed manual: off the line he pulled about a fender length on me but by the time he shifted to 3rd I was even, and when he hit 4th his front bumper was looking at mine. My experience with turbos may have something to do with why one of the quickest factory cars in the US was an automatic- the GNx.

Granted, it's not cecessarily anything to do with software, but an analogue should be true and correct... no?

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+warwagon

I had a windows XP install that worked great for 4 years, (2004 - 2008) until I retired it to vista on another machine.

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abecedarian paradoxious
As far as the registry bloat question I can only say this. Don't install applications and crapware that you won't use. I consider myself a minimalist in that I only install applications on an as needed basis. If I know an application wont work or will screw up something with my system I wont use it. I dont use 15 different applications that do the same thing. I dont use Nero, or EMC (Easy Media Creator) or any applications like that because Vista has that functionality, I use Alchohol 120 for burning ISO's and data discs (when I have to) Storage is so cheap that why bother burning anything anymore? I have my tunes and vid's on backup drives. I use online backup solutions as that is alot better than swapping discs trying to restore stuff for other people. With internet connectivity it's moving more to online apps which are better. I do use Office 2003 as I dont like the ribbons in 2007 and it wasn't enough of an upgrade to justify the price. I don't use ad driven applications either. I am an itunes convert to Windows Media Player 11 as itunes as great as people say Apple is, it has become too bloated, too dated GUI wise.

Just my two cents..

Agreed as well on the 'bloat' aspect of iTunes. Having to run what feels like 4 services just to connect a 30GB video iPod is rediculous. Why does it seem that every new apple device needs a new service?

What's up with this new "Bonjour" service? The only one saying 'bonjour' is me!

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

That would be a disaster. What possible reason could you have for wanting to replace the registry with "config files?" The registry is a config file. But it's in database form, because databases are better in every way for this usage.

And you mentioned "human readable?" Nothing in the registry is meant to be human readable. If you want something to be human readable, don't put it in the registry. "Regedit.exe" and similar tools are debugging tools. They are not end-user tools. They are not configuration UI.

The configuration UI is in your app, if there is any. But most of what goes in the registry isn't options or application settings. It is registration of components / interfaces / identifiers / file extensions / etc, which are shared among many applications. Some apps and services use it for state tracking. That's why the registry isn't portable, it isn't meant to be portable. The information stored there is far too dependent on system state.

If you're developing an app and you want it to have configuration data in a portable, human-readable persistence format, then you won't use the registry. It's simply not designed for that.

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

Are you trying to say it isn't?

Seriously, COM is one of the basic fundamentals of Windows that has made it so successful. What do you dislike about COM?

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abecedarian paradoxious
<snip>

But you have to admit that since it's a "Windows" managed database, that "Windows" should enforce the removal of an application's entries, no?

How hard would it be for Windows to monitor and log application modifications to the registry then undo those modifications if or when the application is removed either through an uninstall app or by simple user 'delete' of the program folder?

If Windows can have shadow copy functionality, why not apply that same sort of tech to the registry, and maybe even the file system as a whole with regards to programs (yep, I see those brain-gears spinning)?

I'm not hounding you... maybe giving you something to go "up" with.

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James7
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.

This Unix/Linux approach not only gives you better performance, it also makes it easy to get rid of program settings you don't want to keep. Like, if you screw up settings for a program or something, you just delete the config file, or its directory, and start the program again and it creates a new fresh config file and it's like the first time you installed the program.

This is not always the case with the Windows Registry, which often keeps old settings and hides them in strange corners, usually hard or impossible to find--often actually impossible to remove. It also creates a market for all these Registry 'cleaners' which mostly seem to be there to help calm people's OCD feelings that their computers have excess/unneeded 'dirt' hiding in odd places that must be periodically removed.

This may seem a stupid thing for people to worry about but I used to worry about it when I used Windows. I like to feel my computer is 'clean' and I have to say that the Unix/Linux approach is also much much better for people like me who waste time worrying about such things. ;)

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+BudMan
So what do you do when a software refuses to install because of remnants of its older install?
To be honest I do not recall ever running into this, except for timeware type software. My son uses itunes on his windows machine, I have never had any issues with installing the latest version.

If the need did come about that software X did not like that fact that entry Y was in the registry, then the answer is simple fire up regedit an look to see what the issue is. If need be delete entry Y, you sure and the F do not need some software scanning your whole registry looking for stuff it does not think is needed or correct to fix a specific issue with a specific piece of software and either a registry value or key.

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+allan

For years I railed against registry cleaners on my site. While I still agree they are mostly a waste of time, I have to admit that once in a while I'll run one (though I'm not sure they do much that matters) - but as BudMan mentioned above they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. For me the best way is still the old fashioned way - "manual" editing and purging of the registry with regedit. And if some extraneous, legacy entries remain, so be it. I'll figure out what to do if there's ever any kind of conflict.

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HawkMan
This Unix/Linux approach not only gives you better performance, it also makes it easy to get rid of program settings you don't want to keep. Like, if you screw up settings for a program or something, you just delete the config file, or its directory, and start the program again and it creates a new fresh config file and it's like the first time you installed the program.

This is not always the case with the Windows Registry, which often keeps old settings and hides them in strange corners, usually hard or impossible to find--often actually impossible to remove. It also creates a market for all these Registry 'cleaners' which mostly seem to be there to help calm people's OCD feelings that their computers have excess/unneeded 'dirt' hiding in odd places that must be periodically removed.

This may seem a stupid thing for people to worry about but I used to worry about it when I used Windows. I like to feel my computer is 'clean' and I have to say that the Unix/Linux approach is also much much better for people like me who waste time worrying about such things. ;)

The bolded text is where you argument starts showing flaws, not a good start hmm ? :)

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S550

I just wish Windows boot and shutdown as fast as OSX, I'm a Windows guy and I find it slow at that. The Registry is fine, Developers just need to know how to use it better in their install/uninstallers

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Unto Darkness
I just wish Windows boot and shutdown as fast as OSX, I'm a Windows guy and I find it slow at that. The Registry is fine, Developers just need to know how to use it better in their install/uninstallers

Well Windows can boot as fast as OS X, but it depends on how many programs start up when you boot. Mine can complete boot in 6 seconds! [OS only] :D

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abcdefg
the answer is simple fire up regedit an look to see what the issue is.

Yup, it's that simple considering the amount of trash iTunes dumps there. :laugh:

I tried to do it manually but gave up and downloaded Ccleaner. It worked. Well almost, I had to download Quicktime and install it separately. Mmm do I love registry. I wonder how other OSs manage to do without it. :rolleyes:

But what can I say, portable installs are way to go. Even if that means harder install it will guarantee that rot stays away.

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omganinja

I find that Vista has far less of a rotting effec than windows xp. After a week or so without a reboot windows XP would be really laggy. In Vista after a week it feels no different than minutes after a fresh boot.

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Mordkanin
This Unix/Linux approach not only gives you better performance, it also makes it easy to get rid of program settings you don't want to keep.

You're saying that flat files have better performance than the registry?

Like, if you screw up settings for a program or something, you just delete the config file, or its directory, and start the program again and it creates a new fresh config file and it's like the first time you installed the program.

99% of the time, you have exactly two keys to delete to completely get rid of a program's settings. It'll have a key under HKCU\Software, and HKLM\Software. There may be some extra COM stuff, but in general, a few hundred extra COM registrations that no longer exist shouldn't cause you any harm, and those aren't really 'settings', anyway, so if you do 'screw up settings for a program or something', deleting those two keys is still enough.

Are we going to need a "The Great Registry Debate" thread now?

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null_

I prefer the way that Mac OS X handles its settings compared to the Windows registry, it's so much easier to rid your computer of all traces of an application by simply deleting the preference file and the application compared to hunting through the Windows registry, %SYSTEMROOT%\System32, %PROGRAMFILES% etc.

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BinaryFragger
Sure it is. If you have a basic understanding of Windows there's no reason to have to re-install on an interval. I've never re-installed Windows XP and have zero complaints. (Also, zero malware) My installation was in 2003.

If you are careful what software and drivers you install on your system, have a good firewall, a good backup, and maintain your system it will continue to work properly.

As with any OS, if you neglect it the performance will decrease over time.

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

Although I see a lot of XP computers become unbearably slow over time, mine doesn't suffer from that problem. My XP installation is over 2 years and it I keep it running smoothly with basic care.

I don't install/uninstall a lot of programs, but when I do uninstall one, I manually delete any leftover files and registry keys left behind. I also leave it on 24/7, only rebooting it when I install patches.

The computers that I see slow to a crawl are always loaded with unnecessary software, a lot of them partially uninstalled. It's ridiculous how much crap some programs leave behind when you uninstall them (especially anything from Symantec).

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

Well, this is what I do for my Windows machine:

-Check the Event Log for errors or warnings and address them

-Use msconfig to verify what non-Microsoft services are installed and whether they should be running

-Use msconfig to verify all startup items

-Use My Uninstaller to verify all installed programs and uninstall any I don't need (This program shows more applications than Windows' Add/Remove Programs)

-Check for Microsoft Updates

-Run Disk Cleanup to remove temporary and other unnecessary files

-Check for Firewall updates (Anti-virus signatures are updated on a schedule)

-Check disk space, especially on the Windows volume

-Run Defrag and defragment if recommended

-Ghost entire hard drive to external drive

-Backup My Documents and other critical files to USB stick

-Check Anti-Virus log

Some of these I only do once or twice a year, others I do weekly or monthly.

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+warwagon

The only reason getting rid of the registry would be bad, is because it would break almost every piece of software in existence. having said that, if we where able to get alway from the registry and operate more with config files in the application directory, that would be great.

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rtk
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.

Agreed, but I specifically said "those on these forums". If a person manages to find this site, register and post, they're not an average user.

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.

I tend to do a reinstall when major milestones are hit, such as hardware upgrades or even a service pack. I'd wager that the frequency of format/reinstall cycles correlates directly to the number of icons on the desktop after 6 months. If you can't see your wallpaper for icons, chances are you're not very picky about system cleanliness.

I'm a neat freak when it comes to my systems, not always a good thing.

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

Not usually...

Simply calling someone else's assertion ignorant without stating a reason isn't very helpful though.

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ObiWanToby

What is the main cause of rot though, seriously? Will uninstalling and reinstalling programs really cause rot? If so why? Honestly every fresh install always feels nice and clean, and my used installs never have random stuff booting up or anything. I just don't get it.

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bjoswald

It can stem from a number of different causes, but it usually comes from multiple uninstall/reinstalls of unwated programs, registry cleaners, bad tweaks, disabling services, manipulating the page file settings, and so on.

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Brandon Live
What is the main cause of rot though, seriously?

Could be any number of things. "Registry bloat" isn't likely to be one, though it may contribute a little bit especially on slow systems.

Mainly, though, I think it's the number of things that you install over time, especially things that run in the background, add their own shell extensions (context menu extensions, icon/thumbnail handlers, property handlers, etc) - some of which are just slow or buggy. Then you have disk fragmentation, which affects all OSes to varying degrees... but Vista deals with that pretty well with background and scheduled defrags (though the scheduled ones usually don't help laptops or machines that get turned off at night).

Drivers that don't upgrade cleanly could be a factor. Installed updates / restore points and things like that may have some effect.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head, though. Really, I haven't noticed much "rot" in a long, long time. But I'm not a "normal" user, nor am I a "tweak freak" running all those "tuning" utilities that only seem to make things worse over time.

I did recently do a clean install of Vista on my laptop, using the full SP1 build (not RTM + SP1 Update), and something about that does seem to be better in an undefinable, probably psychological way.

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+allan

Okay, when I said "smart computing and maintaining your system" here's what I had in mind (in no particular order):

  • Install a top notch AV, make sure the definitions are always current, and make sure it's always active
  • Install a good passive Spyware monitor (I use SpywareBlaster) and keep the definitions current
  • Run regular scans for spyware with active utilities (I use Spybot and AdAware monthly)
  • Always know the sites you visit and avoid downloading or using cracks or warez
  • Use some form of firewall (I use a router that has a built in NAT along with Windows' built in firewall)
  • I don't care what the recommendations are, I defrag the system partition on all my systems once a week and all other partitions a little less frequently
  • On my XP Systems I run chkdsk /r from the Recovery Console every couple of months just to clean up any potential incomplete file fragments (from anomalous shutdowns) and to check for and mark any bad sectors that may have developed (it can happen as drives age)
  • Never open email attachments unless you are certain you know what they are
  • Never post your email address or system username on a public forum
  • When upgrading video drivers, first uninstall the currently installed driver
  • Always have a current disk image (Ghost, True Image, whatever) on a drive other than the one you are imaging (it can be a cd, dvd, or separate HD - anything you can boot to)
  • Something I do (and you may not want to) is go through the Software Keys in the HKLM and HKCU registry hives and remove invalid entries
  • Key data should be on a partition or drive separate from the OS (in the event the system partition ever needs to be blown away and the OS reinstalled, the data should still be safe and available)
  • Critical data should also be copied and backed up to a duplicate and/or triplicate location (different HD on same system, removable HD, secondary system, whatever). If the data are that important then you should make sure there is some form of "disaster recovery"
  • For good housekeeping, I have only a few icons on my desktop and I always decide where to install programs (ie, the Program Files folder on c: drive has only certain software I want installed there, everything else is on other partitions)
  • Also for good housekeeping I like to have a bunch of partitions for different purposes
  • I am a frequent beta tester, but only for "name" products. The vendor always provides information on how to remove the beta sw and I always follow it
  • I NEVER install service packs or major updates until the RTM version is available

I know it sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. Most of it is simply common sense. The rest takes only a few minutes a week and I can assure you it's worth it. I have a whole bunch of systems and have never had to do a reformat and reinstall for any reason other than installing a new OS - and I've been working with computers since 1985.

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