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Does Windows slow down of its own accord?

I read this piece about "code rot" this morning. Curious.

Every Windows PC I have ever owned has seemed to get slower as time goes by - and that includes servers. Sometimes defragging the disk and/or a reboot speeds it up a bit - but mostly not. People presumably think this is how computers are supposed to be.

Well it isn't.

Apple kit doesn't seem to have this problem, neither apparently does Linux. I recall back in the 90s our trusty Netware server went for months on end without a reboot or loss of performance.

So is it a real effect or are we all imagining it? What's your experience?


Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 15 January, 2009, 10:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I don't have experience with Macs, but for Linux I could say that it does not slow down noticeably. The performance remains the same even with very long uptimes (months or even years), and if the system needs to be booted, the boot time remains at a fast constant of under 1 minute.

For Windows however, a serious slowdown is seen when uptime increases. This is mainly because of poor programming, ie. opening and closing files and programs always seem to leave a 'tail' of that program into memory, slowing the system the more you use the computer.  Rebooting brings it up to speed, but if it takes 15 minutes, its of no use.

For my Windows machines I periodically run EasyCleaner ( to clean up bloated temporary files and registries, and TuneXP 1.5 ( to eliminate unnecessary Windows services, defragment the disk and switch boot order of programs to speed up.

Running the above 2 programs can take from 15 minutes to several hours (depending on how often you run them), but it pays off. You spend one Saturday morning every 3-6 months running these and your computer not only boots up much faster, but starts and runs programs faster as well.

I still would say that even the above programs do not remove all the bit rot in the Windows system, but they can extend your systems life with several years. I have a laptop running Windows XP that is 5 years old, and it runs fine as long as I keep cleaning it.  Still, I feel that the inevitable clean install is not that far away.  Maybe I'll install Linux on it to make things easier...

---- Kalle

PS. Did you know that almost all of Windows XP generic "services" that it is running are useless?  Only 1-2 critical ones are needed - you can kill off all the rest and not notice a difference in operating your machine, but it sure speeds things up!

Ed Daniel
Ed Daniel - - Europe 15 January, 2009, 14:59Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This is well known and what keeps the Windows-based PC break n'fix consultants in business most of the time.

I participate in a variety of developer & gaming communities where I've witnessed the desire to do a fresh install every 3 / 6 months - this is quite excessive and costly in terms of productivity without the smarts to automate this kind of provisioning but shows the user apathy to having to continually self-manage their PCs.

A common approach has been to try and isolate according to purpose i.e. preparing custom 'builds' for different tasks and then keeping those up to date and free of superfluous bloat, virtualisation has helped make this easier / more portable.

For the single user or small business this can be impractical without the right talent and resources around. As the earlier chap commented one is cursed with the chores of regular maintenance let alone having to react to zero day alerts.

In contrast, other operating systems can be more cost-effective to manage however the cost of transition and ability to support or delegate support to a service provider is often a fear factor preventing most from moving from experimentation to widespread adoption. 

I'd recommend that organisations struggling with management should start to explore the actual cost of running other operating systems or speak more with their peers who use these alternatives to get the same job done and then evaluate what, if anything, is missing from their portfolio.

I've been mulling over how to curb the call for revolution by explaining the need for evolution - if we can evolve from where we are to somewhere better lets be doing that rather than overthrowing the existing status-quo - my caveat to this thinking has been to evolve the partners one works with and let them bring innovation into the environment in a controlled fashion that can be measured and compared.

Pick the area of least risk and run a pilot project.  Peter, I hope this helps you get closer to working on a Mac and allows you more time to hack the ability for Finextra to publicly syndicate RSS per blog or get those tag clouds implemented - ps. check our cloud searchlet for google.






Ed Daniel
Ed Daniel - - Europe 15 January, 2009, 15:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Oops, you've done the blog thing, lol - nice one!

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