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My Guide to Basic Windows Maintenance


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#1 deanj20

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:26 PM

Hey Bleeping Computer!

If you've been repairing computers for as long as some of us have, you have probably come up with your own methodology for what you do when a user complains of a "slow computer".

I am a member of another forum (ComputerForum.com), and there several times a day a noobie will post up, begging to know why his PC is running so sluggish.

I had a "Slow Computer Rant" saved, and I would usually just copy and paste it to reply to such threads. I thought I ought to make a webpage on the subject - a "Slow Computer Rant" page of sorts...

So I did.

Any questions, comments and criticisms are appreciated. Let me know what you think.

http://www.jeremydeanonline.com/tips/goFast/goFast.php

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#2 ThunderZ

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:47 PM

Just glancing through the first few suggestions.

Malwarebytes is an excellent program and used here frequently, but it is not enough to insure a malware free PC.

Msconfig is not to be used to permanently disable start-ups. It is meant only for trouble shooting and testing purposes.

Regarding registry cleaners of any type.

Bleeping Computer DOES NOT recommend the use of registry cleaners/optimizers for several reasons:

  • Registry cleaners are extremely powerful applications that can damage the registry by using aggressive cleaning routines and cause your computer to become unbootable.

    The Windows registry is a central repository (database) for storing configuration data, user settings and machine-dependent settings, and options for the operating system. It contains information and settings for all hardware, software, users, and preferences. Whenever a user makes changes to settings, file associations, system policies, or installed software, the changes are reflected and stored in this repository. The registry is a crucial component because it is where Windows "remembers" all this information, how it works together, how Windows boots the system and what files it uses when it does. The registry is also a vulnerable subsystem, in that relatively small changes done incorrectly can render the system inoperable. For a more detailed explanation, read Understanding The Registry.
  • Not all registry cleaners are created equal. There are a number of them available but they do not all work entirely the same way. Each vendor uses different criteria as to what constitutes a "bad entry". One cleaner may find entries on your system that will not cause problems when removed, another may not find the same entries, and still another may want to remove entries required for a program to work.
  • Not all registry cleaners create a backup of the registry before making changes. If the changes prevent the system from booting up, then there is no backup available to restore it in order to regain functionality. A backup of the registry is essential BEFORE making any changes to the registry.
  • Improperly removing registry entries can hamper malware disinfection and make the removal process more difficult if your computer becomes infected. For example, removing malware related registry entries before the infection is properly identified can contribute to system instability and even make the malware undetectable to removal tools.
  • The usefulness of cleaning the registry is highly overrated and can be dangerous. In most cases, using a cleaner to remove obsolete, invalid, and erroneous entries does not affect system performance but it can result in "unpredictable results".
Unless you have a particular problem that requires a registry edit to correct it, I would suggest you leave the registry alone. Using registry cleaning tools unnecessarily or incorrectly could lead to disastrous effects on your operating system such as preventing it from ever starting again. For routine use, the benefits to your computer are negligible while the potential risks are great.



#3 deanj20

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 11:03 PM

Hey ThunderZ,

Thanks for your reply!

Malwarebytes is certainly not enough to ensure an error-free PC - but it's a good starting point, imho.

Who says msconfig isn't used to permanently disable Startup processes? I respectfully disagree. I highly recommend disabling unneeded processes via msconfig in situations where you use a particular software only on an as-needed basis, and do not have the option to disable the program processes from starting up within the program settings.

As for registry cleaners being useless and dangerous, I again respectfully disagree. However, upon reading the articles you linked to, I am inclined to perform and document my own performance tests. I am certain that using registry cleaners has cut 30 seconds or more off of boot-time on machines where I've detected and repaired thousands of corrupt registry entries. But until I have documented proof, I can't really claim that now can I?

Thank you for your feedback. I will start a new thread once I've performed my registry cleaner tests.

Have a great weekend!

#4 Animal

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 11:31 PM

Who says msconfig isn't used to permanently disable Startup processes? I respectfully disagree.

I think you might be misunderstanding the point. msconfig was never designed to be a startup manager. It was designed to be a diagnostic tool. You are quite correct that some programs need to be disabled. But using msconfig to do that is not the best method. As for 'who says'? One person would be a very well known Windows expert known as Mark Russinovich, who created a tool that is widely used for permanent start up management known as Autoruns for Windows v10.06 Mark is quite well known in the Windows community for his company SysInternals and the Windows tools he created. His tools were so popular and of high quality that Microsoft bought Marks company.

Autoruns is not the only third party startup manager by any means. I only used that name as a reference and also because of who developed the application.

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#5 deanj20

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:23 AM


Who says msconfig isn't used to permanently disable Startup processes? I respectfully disagree.

I think you might be misunderstanding the point. msconfig was never designed to be a startup manager. It was designed to be a diagnostic tool. You are quite correct that some programs need to be disabled. But using msconfig to do that is not the best method. As for 'who says'? One person would be a very well known Windows expert known as Mark Russinovich, who created a tool that is widely used for permanent start up management known as Autoruns for Windows v10.06 Mark is quite well known in the Windows community for his company SysInternals and the Windows tools he created. His tools were so popular and of high quality that Microsoft bought Marks company.

Autoruns is not the only third party startup manager by any means. I only used that name as a reference and also because of who developed the application.


Duly noted. Thanks for the information - I've been repairing computers for a long time, but I never knew that there was a better way to disable the unwanted startup processes. I will experiment with Autoruns for Windows and revise my article with this in place of msconfig.

That being said - is there anything "wrong" with doing it via msconfig? I mean, it can't hurt - right?

#6 tg1911

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:20 PM

Who says msconfig isn't used to permanently disable Startup processes?


Microsoft

The System Configuration utility helps you find problems with your Windows XP configuration. It does not manage the programs that run when Windows starts.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310560

And a few of the reasons why:
http://www.techrepublic.com/forum/discussions/102-326313-3250465
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#7 Broni

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:40 PM

Nice link tg :)

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#8 deanj20

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 05:29 PM

Thanks for the input guys. Looks like I'll be using Autoruns rather than msconfig from here on out. Learn something every day. :D

#9 tg1911

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 05:45 PM

Learn something every day. :D

It would sure make for a boring life, if you didn't, don't you think? :)
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#10 garybear

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 06:57 PM

This is how I help senior citizens!!
I first have them run Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner
I then have them run ESET Online Scanner..
TFC will get rid of Temporary files that most other cleaners miss.
I have them run CCleaner next and use the registry cleaner also.
I also use CCleaner to disable unwanted start ups( The only starts up in my tray are for security( Avira=Online Armor= Malwarebytes.
CCleaner also has a program remove feature, that works real well, for those programs you never use and are taking up HD space and other resources.(RAM= CPU=ect
I use Black Viper to change automatic services to manual. I don't disable services, just change them to manual.I only tell the advanced seniors about this little trick.
I have them run Superantispyware and Malwarebytes on demand.
This usually gets them running.a lot better
I forgot to say the first thing I have them do is back up their registry with ERUNT.
Now if they are still not happy.
We join this forum and post a GMER log and DDS logs, and let the experts take over.So far i haven't had to do that.Never run Combofix unless you are advised to do so by a expert.
PS I would like to acknowledge that I agree with the person that started this topic about registry cleaners. The articles posted that state they are snake oil were written 6 years ago. I believe they can help keep your PC tuned up and running better. I will not post the ones I use because BC disagrees and doesn't approve of them, and I don't want yo start any trouble. I do use them, and I have never had a problem that I know of.
I welcome all comments to this post. I'm always ready to learn and I take criticism really well.
Just want to add that this forum has a lot of smart and friendly people that are always ready to help us dummies :hysterical:

#11 Animal

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 07:09 PM

@ garybear we will have to agree to disagree on one major point in your process. That being registry cleaners.

Bleeping Computer DOES NOT recommend the use of registry cleaners/optimizers for several reasons:

Registry cleaners are extremely powerful applications that can damage the registry by using aggressive cleaning routines and cause your computer to become unbootable.

The Windows registry is a central repository (database) for storing configuration data, user settings and machine-dependent settings, and options for the operating system. It contains information and settings for all hardware, software, users, and preferences. Whenever a user makes changes to settings, file associations, system policies, or installed software, the changes are reflected and stored in this repository. The registry is a crucial component because it is where Windows "remembers" all this information, how it works together, how Windows boots the system and what files it uses when it does. The registry is also a vulnerable subsystem, in that relatively small changes done incorrectly can render the system inoperable. For a more detailed explanation, read Understanding The Registry.

Not all registry cleaners are created equal. There are a number of them available but they do not all work entirely the same way. Each vendor uses different criteria as to what constitutes a "bad entry". One cleaner may find entries on your system that will not cause problems when removed, another may not find the same entries, and still another may want to remove entries required for a program to work.

Not all registry cleaners create a backup of the registry before making changes. If the changes prevent the system from booting up, then there is no backup available to restore it in order to regain functionality. A backup of the registry is essential BEFORE making any changes to the registry.

Improperly removing registry entries can hamper malware disinfection and make the removal process more difficult if your computer becomes infected. For example, removing malware related registry entries before the infection is properly identified can contribute to system instability and even make the malware undetectable to removal tools.

The usefulness of cleaning the registry is highly overrated and can be dangerous. In most cases, using a cleaner to remove obsolete, invalid, and erroneous entries does not affect system performance but it can result in "unpredictable results".

Unless you have a particular problem that requires a registry edit to correct it, I would suggest you leave the registry alone. Using registry cleaning tools unnecessarily or incorrectly could lead to disastrous effects on your operating system such as preventing it from ever starting again. For routine use, the benefits to your computer are negligible while the potential risks are great.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
Andrew Brown (1938-1994)


A learning experience is one of those things that say, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that." Douglas Adams (1952-2001)


"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world." Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


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#12 garybear

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 07:25 PM

Hello sir!!
I respect your opinion on registry cleaners. I have personally seen them really make a difference but will not suggest any programs because I know BC's doesn't approve and I can understand why. If not used properly they can cause a lot of grief.
PS If you don't want to use the registry cleaner in Windows Live OneCare Saftey Scanner, you can untick that feature. It does make a restore point that you can use if you think it messed things up. I think it is a very mild cleaner and Microsoft should know what needs to be cleaned, but you don't have to use it.
Thanks for your reply friend!!

@ garybear we will have to agree to disagree on one major point in your process. That being registry cleaners.


PS If friends can't agree to disagree, then it's a sad day for sure :thumbup2:

#13 Layback Bear

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 10:27 AM

I don't recommend registry cleaners for most computer users for one big reason. IMHO most users are like me; don't know enough about the registry to be fooling around with it. Using auto-repair (what it is really doing or repairing)?? Yes I have tried one and all h-ll broke loose. A dozen unneeded entries don't really hurt anything. Repairing/removing one needed entry can sure make for a long day.

#14 garybear

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 12:11 PM

Hello Layback Bear!
I would bet you know plenty about the registry. I understand why BC doesn't support registry cleaners. It's no place to mess around if you don't know what your doing. I'm just a newbie to the PC world. I got my PC 7 years ago while doing chemo.I always warn people to have their OS backed up before making any changes in the registry. I help my friends and neighbors with their PC's.They come to me complaining about their PC being so slow they don't enjoy it any more. I have a 1.5 TB external USB.The first thing we do is create a image of their OS with Macrium on my USB. I then start cleaning things up.I just learned about this Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner.I ran it on my old 7 year old Dell. Checked my C drive before running it ; had 15+ GB used space; it now has 9.72 GB used space and is running just great, and I keep my PC cleaned up;or I thought I did. I have installed a lot of Apps. in the past and not always removed them the way I should have.I think this is the reason for the reduced used space. This Safety Scanner is from Microsoft and I trust that they know as much about the registry as anyone. I'll trust them until I find out different. I really believe it's like ESET Online Scanner but has a couple more features.I don't know why I haven't heard more about this Safety Scanner on the internet. I was hoping for more feed back here on BC, but all I get is yelled at and told Microsoft doesn't support Windows Live Care and we don;t support registry cleaners . I know that and have tried my best to explain that this is not Windows OneCare and I know BC doesn't support registry cleaners.
When I leave my neighbors house, their PC is running like a top and they try to pay me, but I never except. They usually bring me some goodies the next day and that is good enough for me. I know about start ups and services and defrag and a few more tricks to speed things up. It really surprises me how many times I hear this on BC. I reformatted my PC because it wasn't running like I wanted it to and I wanted a fresh start. Why wasn't it running like it use to; because it had to much crap on it. I can restore my OS in less than a hour, just like it was two weeks ago and just as fresh as the day I made that image. I can do this on the operating drive or I can install a brand new cold drive and be back up and running.I can't recover from a blown board, but that's about all that can stop me
This post is getting to long and probably boring to the experts. I'll rap it up by saying Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner is not Windows OneCare and is supported by Microsoft.If you are afraid of the feature that cleans your registry, you can untick that feature. The Scanner will create a restore point before cleaning any thing. If it finds registry errors, it will make a back up of them that you can restore back to your registry or you can use the restore point.This is my last attempt to explain this software.I have heard all these horror stories about cleaners and I'm not recommending them on BC. This software impressed me and that's why I posted about it here on BC.I just wish someone here would do some research about this software and report what they find. I'm not even close to being an expert or have the vast knowledge of members here at BC, but I didn't just fall off the turnip truck either.
Thank you for reading this and I can take criticism as long as you all don't pile on me.

#15 garybear

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 01:12 PM

Hello !
I don't know why I keep posting things that subject me to be hollered at :hysterical: I guess I'm a slow learner. BC recommends Revo uninstalled. Revo uninstaller has one of the most aggressive registry cleaners you will ever find. You better be backed up with ERUNT or some thing else before you use Revo to uninstall a program. You may say it's different or you can trust it. I say Microsoft has been around longer and you can trust it also. I have gotten into more trouble with Revo than any registry cleaner I use. Won't post names; BC don't like registry cleaners.
Now you all can holler at me, I can take it. I promised Andrew that I wouldn't take things so serious.:hysterical: I appreciate you my friend. Thanks for your PM. I'll shake on it (It's a deal!!)




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