I bought my laptop in 2005, and now it is maddingly slow. Should I get a new PC with Vista?
I get emails like this on a regular basis. Here’s an insider look at why our PC’s are so damn slow, and whether Vista is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Free Space. It’s not intuitive, but there is a direct link between your system performance and the free space on your hard drive. As your hard drive fills, it becomes more difficult to write new files into the free space. Furthermore, your disk begins to fragment at an accelerated pace, and the performance hit is stunning and precipitous.
In order to keep your system at maximum performance, we recommend that you keep your free space at least 50%. Unfortunately, Windows is secretly stealing your precious hard drive space. Windows has a feature called Windows Restore Points that helps you restore your system in certain catastrophic situations. Unfortunately, this feature uses 12% of your hard drive. That’s a lot of restore points. I have an 80 GB hard drive, and I have enough Windows Restore Points to go back 3-4 months in time.
After glancing at the Pitstop data, the average desktop at PC Pitstop has about a 160GB disk. This means an average desktop can go back daily 6-8 months with 20GB’s of Windows Restore Points. What was Microsoft thinking? XP was launched in November 2001,
and the average hard drives was 20GB, and therefore 2.4 GB of restore points. This would allow me to go back in time a little over a month, which is all one really needs to do. Anything else is just a waste of hard drive space, or perhaps planned obsolescence?
How does Vista compare? In one word – HORRENDOUS. First Vista increases the restore
point allocation from 12% to 15%. Even more alarming, Vista eliminates the user option to move the allocation to a more reasonable size such as between 1-2%. Not only is Vista increasing the amount of hard drive space it is utlilizing, but knowledgeable users have no direct way to reclaim the lost hard drive space. I cannot imagine what Microsoft’s motivations might be, but perhaps, it is to accelerate planned obsolescence?
Vista increases the space for Windows Restore to 15% without any visible way of reducing it.
Disk Fragmentation. Disk fragmentation is maddening. When your disk starts to get severely fragmented, the performance hits are enormous. Things that take seconds now take minutes, and more importantly, things that took minutes now take hours. Just sending a simple email on a fragmented disk can take 20 seconds or more. I should know because it has happened to me!
The good news is that nothing makes your PC happier than a good disk defragmentation. You feel like you just ran the New York Marathon. Jokes are funnier, the sun is brighter, and music is more powerful. Unfortunately, the standard XP defragger is suboptimal because XP’s defragger does not defragment WINDOWS RESTORE POINTS! Our research indicates that over 1/2 of users are defragmenting their systems monthly or less. Since Windows is writing the restore points daily, these systems are losing performance despite the monthly defragmentation.
But the plot thickens. After doing a Windows defrag, their report ALWAYS says that the defrag is flawless. 0% fragmentation, and 0 fragmented files. Great, too bad it’s untrue. Just close the defragger, and reopen it and run the analyzer to see the truth. You’ll find that the Windows defragger did a pitiful job of defragmenting your hard drive. I encourage everyone to try it yourself and not take my word for it. But the larger question is Why? Why would Microsoft write code to lie to us about our fragmentation status? Planned obsolescence?
Why does Windows lie? Planned Obsolescence?
How does Vista compare? Not much better. It comes as no surprise that Vista also does not defragment Windows Restore Points. It seems that Microsoft might want the performance of our PC’s to decline. And after a defragmentation, Vista gives no report at all. You have no idea what’s going on. I suppose it is an improvement over blatant lying, but in my book, the improvement is rather subtle. One has to ask, “Why is Microsoft doing this?” I am sorry but I can come to only one conclusion. Planned Obsolescence.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience performance problems in a little over a year. If you purchase a new Vista computer, you’ll find yourself in the same boat in a little over a year from now. Possibly even quicker, since you will not be able to recover as much hard drive space. My advice is to get your current system working like it should, and delay purchasing Vista as long as possible.
There is a simple 3 step process to get your system running great:
1. Maximize Free Space. Delete everything you no longer need. Music, videos, etc. Empty your recycle bin. Clear your internet cache. Permanently delete all junk mail from your system. Delete temporary files. Remove any programs you no longer use. Set your Windows Restore Points to no more than 2GB. And anything else that you can think of. Try to get your free space over 50%
2. Run a third party defragger that defragments Windows Restore points. Make sure all applications are closed during the defragmentation process. In particular, don’t read email, or do any web browsing. It might be possible to run an application that does not write to the disk such as Solitaire, but I would recommend taking a break from your PC, and let the defragger do its thing.
3. Read carefully the defragmentation report and repeat step 2 until you got your system back.
Good luck. Go Burnt Orange,
Editor’s Note: Much of the research for this article was done during the development
of our recently launched product, Disk MD. Disk MD defragments Windows Restore Points, and has a free analyzer.