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Phil3
11-11-2010, 3:52 PM
When I first built my PC, it was really fast, but over time it has slowed (with the same applications it was once fast with), no doubt to various files somehow attaching itself to my computer. How often should one just reinstall Windows to get back to a fresh start? The POC "cleaners" and the like do not appear to restore all to like new performance.

- Phil

Merc1138
11-11-2010, 4:01 PM
Never, unless something has caused a serious problem. If you maintain decent habits when using your computer, and don't just click the "ok" button every time it appears, you can go for years with your computer being just as fast as when it was last formatted(except for filesystem issues, but that's another matter of having good computing habits). Windows 2000 and onward(so basically everything but 95, 98, and ME) don't suffer from the same problems where the OS just makes itself crappy over time.

ke6guj
11-11-2010, 4:05 PM
depends on your usage. Once a year or so is not a bad idea.

ke6guj
11-11-2010, 4:07 PM
Never, unless something has caused a serious problem. If you maintain decent habits when using your computer, and don't just click the "ok" button every time it appears, you can go for years with your computer being just as fast as when it was last formatted(except for filesystem issues, but that's another matter of having good computing habits). Windows 2000 and onward(so basically everything but 95, 98, and ME) don't suffer from the same problems where the OS just makes itself crappy over time.true, good habits can keep it running fast, but it seems that the average user is gonna get all sorts of crap installed over time, and occasional blow it out and rebuild is a good idea.

bigmike82
11-11-2010, 4:24 PM
I upgrade some piece of my machine pretty much every year...be it graphics card, hard drive, memory, etc. At that point, it's generally time for a spring clean, so I reinstall as well.

sd_shooter
11-11-2010, 4:42 PM
It pretty easy to keep a PC clean:
1) Install good antivirus SW, like AVG Free. Disable the auto SW update but enable the auto virus database update. They will force you to 'upgrade' about once a year anyway, so you'll always be fairly up to date on the SW. Enable all the background sniffers. I've never paid for virus software in my life.
2) Install a good defrag program like Auslogics. Set it to defrag on a convenient schedule and it will never get in your face.
3) Install a good register cleaner, Auslogics is once again recommended. Run it every 6months - 12months, this is as good as "reinstalling."
4) Uninstall programs that you don't use. When installing new SW, make sure you don't install any crapware at the same time (extra plugins, toolbars, utilities etc.) Promptly uninstall the crapware if it gets on your machine (have to do this on my wife's machine every once in a while.)
5) Make a separate partition for all your personal data (mp3, pics etc) and be diligent about saving everything away from the C: drive. Set all your SW to save away from the default locations.

That's about it. Waaaayyy easier than a clean install.

mcubed4130
11-11-2010, 6:29 PM
When I first built my PC, it was really fast, but over time it has slowed (with the same applications it was once fast with), no doubt to various files somehow attaching itself to my computer. How often should one just reinstall Windows to get back to a fresh start? The POC "cleaners" and the like do not appear to restore all to like new performance.

- Phil

Depends on which version of Windows. :-)

Windows XP32 - about once a year see note below.

Windows XP64 - almost never.

Windows Vista - once or twice per week is generally good :-)

Windows 7 - no need the HW will die under stress and unlike Vista it will go "BING!" and then you know you've lost all hope of doing anything other than hitting the hard reset button ( hold power button for 10+ seconds ) :-)

P.S. yes I'm being silly - but I was a Microsoft Technet guy for 10+ years. I've learned through the years - to never touch a Microsoft OS until Service Pack 2+ is released.

To really answer the question - if it's only about "speed" just do a checkdisk and a defrag.

If your machine is just doing oddball crazy things... then it's time to reinstall. For instance - my primary laptop running Windows XP32 - keep "disconnecting and reconnecting all USB port devices". And no amount of messing with power-management or reinstalling drivers has fixed the issue... therefore it's time to re-install :-)

-Michael

Rekrab
11-11-2010, 8:06 PM
Once a year has always been my mantra. Only exception is back when I was using 2k, then it was never.

Reg cleaners simply won't cut the mustard and will, 9 times out of 10, not do anything or make your system slower. The registry is an enormous file with entries for just about everything in your OS. It's not something you want to mess around with unless you REALLY know what you're doing. Don't trust some bit of software that claims to be able to automatically go through and "clean" your registry. That software doesn't know your computer, it doesn't know you, it doesn't know anything. All it does is go through and look for obvious problems. Sometimes it thinks good entries are bad, because it's a stupid piece of software and not an intelligent person.

A clean install these days takes a couple hours. You'll spend way more time trying to fix your registry or most other "problems" that crop up over time.

L4D
11-11-2010, 8:40 PM
Ghost FTW.

DaveFJ80
11-11-2010, 9:02 PM
Depends on your usage, and how much you stuff you download over the internet.

My advice, partition your drives and keep you OS and main apps on your C-drive. Use Ghost or some other imaging software and create an image of a good, current version of your OS, drivers, and main apps. That way it'll take about 20 min to format the partition and reinstall the image. Download current Windows updates and other current plugins, and you're good to go.

ldivinag
11-11-2010, 9:22 PM
if i was working in a corporate environment without good security or recovery plan, i would suggest every 6 months or so.

frankm
11-12-2010, 5:04 PM
CCleaner is a pretty good registry cleaner. After running it, I defrag.

NSR500
11-12-2010, 5:09 PM
I've got an WINXP image running right now that has been going since 2004. If you care for your gear you should be able to go for a while with no discernible drop in speed.
Otherwise, a once a year re-image is good practice.

den888
11-12-2010, 5:37 PM
I only reinstall when there are serious problems.

jarhead995
11-12-2010, 8:56 PM
I know gamers who reinstall every month.

i1800collect
11-12-2010, 9:04 PM
I know gamers who reinstall every month.

Why would that ever be necessary?

sd_shooter
11-12-2010, 10:26 PM
I think you guys should get Macs instead of PCs.

dms1
11-12-2010, 10:35 PM
+1 on CCleaner - I run it once a month - also I have done a lot of experimenting with virus scanners and to me the free Microsoft Antivirus seems to be the least invasive resource hog, I run it on all of my PCs now.

NSR500
11-12-2010, 10:46 PM
I think you guys should get Macs instead of PCs.

Let me correct you...

Everybody should get on Linux. :cool:

IntoForever
11-12-2010, 11:20 PM
Once I set up a computer I clone the HD. When it's time to re-install I dump a copy of the clone on a new HD and use that. Quick, no more worrying about drivers for every piece of hardware. Run new updates (always on the anti-virus/firewall first) and I'm off and running. New HD every year regardless, sledge hammer or rifle range for the old one. Personal stuff and photos are on a different HD with it's back-up.

Uhhlexxxis
11-13-2010, 5:03 AM
I reformat a fresh copy about every 6-12 months. Noticeable difference in performance. store all of my stuff on an external HD.

amd64
11-13-2010, 8:06 AM
Ghost FTW.
+1.
Periodic image backups of a stable, "clean" system is the way to go.

paul0660
11-13-2010, 8:14 AM
Sidetrack....is Ghost or a similar program easy to use, and in fact if I put the C drive image on a new HD it is as simple as replacing drives to get it to boot with everything in its place?

My system is running very well, after 3 years, I am knocking on wood but really don't want to have to reinstall all my programs and drivers.

Also, will the new image have the same glitches and crud the old system did, and likely not be optimal?

Exile Machine
11-13-2010, 8:36 AM
Let me correct you...

Everybody should get on Linux. :cool:

+1 www.ubuntu.com

daveinwoodland
11-13-2010, 8:38 AM
Zero once you buy a Mac

daveinwoodland
11-13-2010, 8:39 AM
I think you guys should get Macs instead of PCs.
Some folks will go through their life never knowing almost 100% computer bliss. They all have issues, yes but after working on everthing imaginable over the last 20 years I'll stick with what I know is the least BS system.

brianinca
11-13-2010, 9:40 AM
>>>
P.S. yes I'm being silly - but I was a Microsoft Technet guy for 10+ years. I've learned through the years - to never touch a Microsoft OS until Service Pack 2+ is released.
>>>

Crap. What's your MCP number?

I've got clients with 6 year old XP boxes, haven't been touched since they left Dell.

People have fun reinstalling Windows because they've nothing better to do with their time, and recommend same to others.

>>>
but after working on everthing imaginable over the last 20
>>>

Hmmm, my oldest Mac is an '84 128K. Macs have PLENTY of issues, as does every other computer. BS is in the eye of the beholder, many Mac users are too ignorant to know when they're being hosed.

Regards,
Brian in CA

chris
11-13-2010, 10:34 AM
>>>
Hmmm, my oldest Mac is an '84 128K. Macs have PLENTY of issues, as does every other computer. BS is in the eye of the beholder, many Mac users are too ignorant to know when they're being hosed.



I have never used a MAC but i know that MAC users think they are superior to PC users for some reason. i have noticed a bit of snobery from Steve Jobs though. i do however like my iPod which is the only apple product i own and it has issues also. like all products they have their strengths and drawbacks as well.

Merc1138
11-13-2010, 12:13 PM
The idea that buying a mac somehow sets you above the average PC user and makes your computing experience immune to the garbage is a farce. There is mac malware, there are settings in OSX that people screw up, and there is hardware in a mac that people somehow manage to break, just like on a PC running windows, or even Linux for that matter.

If you want to have a better experience with computers, learn why you need to format every 6 months and then stop doing whatever it was.

My grandmother knows less about computers than my uncle, I've had to fix my uncles computer in one way or another a half dozen times over the past few years, the only thing I've ever had to do with my grandmother's computer was install a printer for her.

The difference between them is simple, I told them both to not click "OK" or "YES" buttons without knowing exactly what it was, and to not click on random links if they didn't know exactly what it was for. However my idiot uncle clicks every damn link, hits "OK" on every popup, and has even disabled his AV software at some points because it stopped him from doing something. Now I no longer touch my uncle's computer and it's currently FUBAR and I refuse to fix it.

It really isn't hard to develop decent computing habits, doesn't involve years of college, and anyone at any age can do it.

Brianguy
11-13-2010, 1:15 PM
Only when you're installing a newer version;)


registry cleaner, defrag, disable unwanted services, system tweaks, etc

I recommend Auslogics Boostspeed. It's not free but you can get it some other way if you choose.

high_revs
11-13-2010, 6:43 PM
Phil,
Get a good imaging program. I use acronis. Basically, install the basic OS, and nothing else. Install and run acronis and make an image copy. Why? This basically saves you HOURS from any reinstall in the future because you're restoring from a copy, rather than the whole install, expand compressed files, etc. from the install CD.

Then do it incrementally (or whole image again if you have the spare HDD space) as you install programs. Plan your install and incremental images well. meaning, ones you probably will not upgrade in like 2-3 years, install them first. That way, if you ever upgrade other software like office xp -> office 2009, you can do so w/o going back to step 2 as opposed to step5 if you ever have to restore to a "good" starting point.

As everyone says, it's very easy to bloat the PC. Install this little thing here, this little there and next thing you know, you have so many freaking TSR (terminate and stay resident programs, if that's still the term from the Win2k/win98 days). Minimize all start up programs unless you really need them. Adobe is one that sometimes is notorious of this with all the auto-update software that keeps on polling for new updates from Adobe. Ever have those multiple updates for iTunes and quicktime? That's an easy way to get bloated. And uninstall is never really as easy, even if you hack the registry.

Hope that helps. I avg 1x/yr. 1x/1.5yrs if I'm lucky. Always back up your data too... ALWAYS.

glockman19
11-13-2010, 6:46 PM
I agree with others who suggest defrag. You might also look at your RAM and virtual memory settings.

spetsnaz
11-14-2010, 10:07 AM
never really. maybe once every 2-3 years if i need to. right now i will be reinstalling windows because of hard drive failure and will upgrade to a larger drive.

sfwdiy
11-14-2010, 7:37 PM
Zero once you buy a Mac

You've obviously never seen what an idiot can do to a Mac.

Mild disk corruption is really not uncommon on Macs that have been in use for a while. I'd say a good 85% of the machines I see that are having problems or running slowly have disk errors that crop up when I run fsck -f.

Also, just because fsck fixes the issues with the file system doesn't mean that individual files weren't corrupted, partially overwritten, etc. during the time that the file system was borked.

I do clean installs about once a year on my daily-use machines, or more often if I discover significant drive corruption. It makes a big difference.

I have never used a MAC but i know that MAC users think they are superior to PC users for some reason. i have noticed a bit of snobery from Steve Jobs though. i do however like my iPod which is the only apple product i own and it has issues also. like all products they have their strengths and drawbacks as well.

Having used and troubleshot Windows, Mac OS X and Ubuntu Linux over the years, it's been my experience that Windows is the least stable of the three by far. Linux and OS X are both pretty solid, especially when running in a server capacity. Years of uptime are not unheard of.

--B