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Free Software Rules (11/07)
The Gateway Blues (09/07)
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Sony Busted Again (01/07)
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The Pit BLOG

February 2007

Windows - Planned Obsolescence


Dear Rob:
I bought my laptop in 2005, and now it is maddingly slow. Should I get a new PC with Vista?
Thanks,
HookemHorns


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.


Dear HookemHorns,
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,

Rob


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.

Join the Discussion
duanester: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Sat, 24 Feb 2007 03:50:35 GMT)
here goes the multi quotes again
badbinary: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Fri, 23 Feb 2007 23:58:33 GMT)
cL1cKm3.exe: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Fri, 23 Feb 2007 23:50:36 GMT)
QUOTE(Bruce @ 5:46am Fri Feb 23 2007) [snapback]1332294[/snapback]

Some prefer to use the nice new hardware for the data of their choosing.

users can find a plethora of information about system restore and how to turn it off or 3rd pary options.

QUOTE
Some like to control what their computer does, and how it does it.

whats stopping them? the option that says turn off system restore or the information that tells you what percentage of drive its useing? if its neglect to become aware then of course that can apply to pretty much anything in life but if that some like to control..then they must learn first huh.

QUOTE
Some don't want 30 or 40+ gigabytes to just disappear without them knowing how to recover it easily.

if you mean system restore, the simple disk cleanup mentions its option to remove previous restore points. there is nothing there that reasons and excuse for user neglect when learning how to do something on their computer, meaning their complaining over their neglect to read help and support/a manual or google on the internet, like any OS, the options are there, you just have to learn about it first.

QUOTE
Some prefer not swallow the hook line and sinker.

what product thats advertised does that not include exactly?

QUOTE
Some choose not be sheep.

sheep for what? default options? system restore is on by default so people dont alternativly complain about it not being on and how they had to reformat due to a bad driver. size so they can find at least one good point that works the way they want.

so you briefed me about excuses for complaints but i dont see what the answer should have been which is what?
make system restore use 1% or .5% space so that you have xxx.xxx.xxx amount of users over 5 years find they have 1 or 2 restore pionts both of which are unable to restore to those points for various reasons? sometimes there are several out of a dozen that wont restore...ah, now you have a whole new complaint dept. instead of this particular one

non of which was meant to sound negative in any way rather just proof once more that no one can please everyone.

and does the idea of a bigger hard drive not apply to the same logic for upgrading ram?
Bruce: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Fri, 23 Feb 2007 10:46:44 GMT)
QUOTE(cL1cKm3.exe @ 8:07pm Thu Feb 22 2007) [snapback]1332182[/snapback]


seems some just like to have something to complain about


Some prefer to use the nice new hardware for the data of their choosing.

Some like to control what their computer does, and how it does it.

Some don't want 30 or 40+ gigabytes to just disappear without them knowing how to recover it easily.

Some prefer not swallow the hook line and sinker.

Some choose not be sheep.
duanester: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Fri, 23 Feb 2007 03:50:59 GMT)
QUOTE(cL1cKm3.exe @ 8:07pm Thu Feb 22 2007) [snapback]1332182[/snapback]

seems some just like to have something to complain about

i dont like xp bah, nah nah nah, hbah ha, eeww that drive is tooo BIG
cL1cKm3.exe: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Fri, 23 Feb 2007 01:07:43 GMT)
drives are becoming huge and cheap, a 300gb like mine is now $70 after $20 mail in rebate 500 and 700+ will be soon common options at local stores which is rediculous imo anyway

with vista and 3 games,dreamscene videos, backup and restore, an image of C: and whatever system restore is using i'm 238 gb's free, just sittn there doing nothing.

seems some just like to have something to complain about
tito: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Thu, 22 Feb 2007 18:41:21 GMT)
QUOTE(chengrob @ 6:11pm Wed Feb 21 2007) [snapback]1331643[/snapback]

We are currently analyzing how to update our products so that people can recover their hard drive space. For sure, we see the opportunity. But I have to ask the question, WHY?


From Microsoft's perspective, why not? Most users don't know they have a choice, don't realise that it is taking up drive space, probably don't know what a hard drive is.
chengrob: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Thu, 22 Feb 2007 00:11:18 GMT)
We are currently analyzing how to update our products so that people can recover their hard drive space. For sure, we see the opportunity. But I have to ask the question, WHY?

1. Why would they hide the registry setting?
2. Also, the hidden registry setting is still a percentage of the hard drive. This logic has been flawed since Windows XP. It should be a function of how many days that you want to go back. It makes no sense that the larger your hard drive, the more restore points you require.

I'm already working on my next article, but there is another wrinkle. Another huge change in Vista that bears more investigation. Stay tuned.
flyfishingrules2: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Wed, 21 Feb 2007 20:58:33 GMT)
QUOTE(Bruce @ 10:20am Wed Feb 21 2007) [snapback]1331435[/snapback]

It can be done Rob, but I seriously doubt most people will be doing it.

https://vistasupport.mvps.org/decrease_stor...tem_restore.htm



Those directions are ridiculous, as Bruce pointed out. Bet there will be a tweak/utility program soon that takes care of that (are you listening, Rob?).

Joe C: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Wed, 21 Feb 2007 19:03:27 GMT)
QUOTE(indy @ 7:41am Sat Feb 17 2007) [snapback]1329636[/snapback]

already stated?????
Bruce: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Wed, 21 Feb 2007 16:20:36 GMT)
It can be done Rob, but I seriously doubt most people will be doing it.

https://vistasupport.mvps.org/decrease_stor...tem_restore.htm
chengrob: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Wed, 21 Feb 2007 15:36:05 GMT)
Hi Wenger6,

Thanks for sending my article to your friend. Here's my response to him and others reading.

First off, I made a very bad choice of words. Windows XP is not "stealing" space from your hard drive. It is allocating up to 12% of your hard drive, and as your friend notes, you can unallocate the space. That said, I think that it is flawed that your restore allocation is a % of your hard drive. It should be a fixed amount. Let's say 2GB. As we all know, hard drives get bigger every year, and therefore your allocation is growing.

But worse yet, your friend should know that unlike XP, there is no way to change the setting in Vista. It has been increased from 12% to 15% and no way to change it. In this sense, Vista is truly stealing the space of your hard drive, since most users have no way of recovering the space.

On the age old question "How often should one defragment?". There is no easy answer. If your hard drive is full, and you regularly are writing big files, or using email and IE6 of lower, then you should probably defrag every day. If your computer is relatively new, and you have a lot of free space, then you can get by with once a month. Vista comes out of the box defragmenting your drive once a week.
seremina: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Wed, 21 Feb 2007 04:23:23 GMT)
Thank you for the article; very informative and shocking.

I tried to follow the instructions for how to restrict how big the restore points will be and to delete any unnecessary ones; no matter what "unhide" setting I've dealt with, I still have Systen Volume Information still Hidden. Its confusing the heck out of me. Is there somewhere else I have to go to get access to this folder? I'm talking XP Home, obviously. There's no way I'm upgrading to Vista.
cL1cKm3.exe: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 23:34:52 GMT)
QUOTE(Joe C @ 10:37am Tue Feb 20 2007) [snapback]1330979[/snapback]

You're right about that, most folks don't know and M$ isn't in any hurry to tell you either, Users have to find out for themselves. I don't have the book that comes with the retail copy of XP so I can't say for sure if they provide you with that info, But I do know that OEM manufacture's (compaq, dell, gateway...ect.) don't mention it to their new owners!!


it does tell you..12% of hard drive space
perhaps no one did the math on how much 12% is. however you can lower it.
i used nlite which allows higher/lower or removed completely before install.

QUOTE
f it was written properly, you shouldn't have to clean it up. If you un-install a program, it should be totally removed. No trace of it should be left on your computer, whether it's the folder it was installed in, any files in that folder, or any entries in the registry. It should all be removed. Temporary files should be deleted when a computer is shut down / restarted or when a program is no longer being executed. It should do this automatically. In my opinion, it's sloppiness that the OS doesn't do this by default.


dont blame the OS for that, there are 3rd party programs that do completely remove themsevles, many dont, thats not microsofts fault, its included unistaller only works as well as the apps unistaller allows. also never expect a shareware prog to be removed completely...how else can they tell if you already ran the trial before?

temporary files can be deleted when a computer is restarted...not by default, you can edit the registry and most tweak apps allow that, however there are times when temps are needed.

alternativly if you want a prestine os with each reboot, i found deepfreeze to work perfectly after moving the documents folder and other things that require constant change to a thawed partition

wenger6, i agree to the article
some things arent the easiest to change in xp or vista...but every single little thing can be altered removed or enhanced to your liking for those who learn.
i also have yet to see the performance benchmarks proving benefit from defragging more often than once every 8-12 months on well used machines, ntfs works pretty well
Wenger6: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 17:16:28 GMT)
I emailed this article to a friend who swears by XP. I'll have to be dragged kicking and screaming from my win98se as if that tells you anything about how i like to change os's

This was his reply to the article. Thought it was interesting. Replies to his response are welcome.


"Yes, Windows has a feature called "Windows Restore". No. this feature does not steal 12% of your hardrive space - unless you ask it to. This feature includes a neat little feature called System Settings in which you can allocate the amount of harddrive space you wish to use from almost 0% to a maximum of 12%. In my case, I have a 180GB drive C. I can allocate from as little as 200MB at 0% to as much as 20306MB at 12% in the following increments, 1-2-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11 & 12%. I can also choose to place my "Windows Restore" files on an alternative drive if I want more or, "and get this, I can turn the damn thing off and do no "Windows Restore" at all. All one has to do is read the instructions when they familiarize themselves with their operating system when first upgrading to a new system. DUH!
While I do not have Windows Vista and just have lowly Windows XP Home, I'm sure vista allows you to turn this feature off if you want to go back to Windows ME or earlier built on safety. Personally, I've used the restore point feature several times in the 4 + years I've had XP and it has been well worth the disk space I've used up.

As far as defragmentation is concerned, how often does one really need to defrag? This can very but I venture to say that once every six months or so is more than enough for the average user. As with most routines, you have to get the hell out of them and then go back into them to get an update. If this guy is reporting on Vista and Vista gives no defrag report, where the hell is he getting the one he's showing. It sure doesn't look anything like the report I get on XP and that particular routine does update relatively accurately when completed. It also gives you an approximation of what your end results will be BEFORE you start the defrag process.

I'm sure there are things to about with the new Vista programming as well as bugs that will have to be worked out. That's why I always wait 6 mo. to a year before I jump in with a new upgrade.
Cowboy3000: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 16:03:04 GMT)
QUOTE(Joe C @ 6:03am Tue Feb 20 2007) [snapback]1330926[/snapback]

most peeps don't know or care enough clean up their pc's....they just want to drive and not do any maintance....ignorance is bliss



If it was written properly, you shouldn't have to clean it up. If you un-install a program, it should be totally removed. No trace of it should be left on your computer, whether it's the folder it was installed in, any files in that folder, or any entries in the registry. It should all be removed. Temporary files should be deleted when a computer is shut down / restarted or when a program is no longer being executed. It should do this automatically. In my opinion, it's sloppiness that the OS doesn't do this by default.
Joe C: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 15:37:08 GMT)
QUOTE(LydiasMom @ 10:01am Tue Feb 20 2007) [snapback]1330967[/snapback]

I think most people are like me, they just don't know, I have had a pc now for over 10 years and never knew about the system restore taking up so much space on my pc. I have been trying to get mine cleaned up to make it run faster etc. Could you tell me how to find the "More Options" for the disc cleanup that is supposed to remove unneccesary restore points? When I click disc cleanup I just get a box that asks if I want to clean drive C.

You're right about that, most folks don't know and M$ isn't in any hurry to tell you either, Users have to find out for themselves. I don't have the book that comes with the retail copy of XP so I can't say for sure if they provide you with that info, But I do know that OEM manufacture's (compaq, dell, gateway...ect.) don't mention it to their new owners!!
indy: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 15:29:26 GMT)
If you are logged in as an administrator, there should be a more options tab after you choose the drive.
LydiasMom: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 15:22:56 GMT)
QUOTE(indy @ 11:16am Tue Feb 20 2007) [snapback]1330974[/snapback]




Thank you Indy, I'm sorry I forgot to tell you I am using Windows XP.
indy: Windows - Planned Obsolescence (Tue, 20 Feb 2007 15:16:27 GMT)
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