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Non-conformist
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought this would be a good discussion. Since everyone here obviously uses computers, it shouldn't be too techy. If anything, this thread may save you a lot of grief.

In addition to sharing my experience from last week, I'm looking for any advice or personal experiences you might have.

The subject is slow computers and how to solve the problem.

I've done "restorations" many times in the past for friends, family, and clients. Usually it's a fairly simple process...time consuming, but simple. If you have a good backup system, restoring a slow computer to its current state minus the slowness is mostly a lot of babysitting as you run several routines.

Last week, after several attempts to track down the source of slowness on my main computer failed, I opted to take drastic measures and do a restoration. I anticipated a day or two. Well, it took four, and the fifth day was the one spent doing what I expected to be doing the second day.

BEWARE: Microsoft made some recent "improvements" to their Automatic Updates that make restoration a frustrating process. It took a great deal of trial and error to get the Service Packs to properly installl, and the manual options to bypass that frustration are either difficult or impossible to find.

So rather than go into all the detail about what went wrong, I'd like to take this discussion into what I think is an important step to avoid that situation. I've known about something called "disk imaging software" for a long time, but since I restore my own computer so rarely, I never bothered with it. I'm now rethinking that. If you don't have "image files" of your computer, you could be facing an expensive and frustrating event in your future.

So for those who don't know what disk imaging is, when your computer is in ideal working condition with all the Service Packs, updates, software, and settings the way you need it, the software takes a "snapshot" of your computer. This snapshot can be used to quickly restore the computer to that exact configuration. From there, your backups can be used to add all the newer files that are not contained in the snapshot.

Obviously, the trick in restoring a computer is to get only what's "safe" from backups to avoid migrating "bugs" into your restoration.

So while this post will outline the importance of creating an image file (if you try to rely on Microsoft Update to help you restore your computer you will be sorry), one thing I'm not sure about is which one to use. Norton Ghost is probably the best known and most used, but I've read reviews stating it's convoluted.

Does anyone here have personal experience they'd like to share? Have you actually had to use an image file to restore a computer (or had a tech do it for you)? Which software were you using if you've had this experience?
 

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If you ain't too tech savy then a program like http://www.tune-up.com/products/tuneup-utilities/ will be a great help to you. There are many free programs about that can do what this does but it's laid out in a very simple UI. Give the demo a try and i think you will be pretty impressed. it's very rare you will have to do a clean install unless you have messed with something you shouldn't have.

You should always do a image backup of an data on your system just in case you ever have a HD failure or data loss. Then if you do ever have to do a system restore it will take less than 30 mins for the system to be back up and running to what it was like before your problems. Norton Ghost is a simple solution for this if you decide to do a restore disk. It's the one i use.
 

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Doer of Many Things!!!
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837 Posts
Norton Ghost is a mediocre product now days. Not the worst by far but certainly not the best. Acronis is another popular product but one I recommend avoiding now. After version 10 it really started going downhill. I personally use Paragon now. It has a free and a paid version to choose from depending on what you need. Macrium Reflect is another free option that does a good job backing up but it's boot CD can be problematic. Clonezilla is a free Linux based imaging solution but it is a bit too slow for me. Other good paid software includes Image for Windows and Shadow Protect.

As far as full restorations go I usually slipstream the latest service packs before installation if its and XP machine. Vista changed things a bit and it's very difficult to slipstream a service pack into it, but there are ways to do it. You can also find places to download the pre-slipstreamed image if you are willing to do look for it.
 

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Doer of Many Things!!!
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Acronis did a great job backing up. The problems come when you actually need to restore from the backup. I was oblivious to the issues later version have until I actually needed to recover a computer. Endless Google searches left me reinstalling anyway and with a clear understanding of why I didn't want to use Acronis anymore.
 

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Back up all your data files on an external drive periodically and the really important stuff on to DVD.

The applications you may as well reinstall but the data can never be recovered if you put your faith on some backup software that fails.

There are also online backup systems carbonite but they generally store your data not your applications.
 

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Non-conformist
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Acronis did a great job backing up. The problems come when you actually need to restore from the backup. I was oblivious to the issues later version have until I actually needed to recover a computer. Endless Google searches left me reinstalling anyway and with a clear understanding of why I didn't want to use Acronis anymore.
That's exactly along the lines of what I'm looking to learn. Being trained as a tech guy, I'm fully aware that the probelms don't always show up until you need the backups. That's not the time you want to find out you have a problem.

Thank you for sharing that, it's exactly the reason I asked about experience in the restoration process and not in the backup process. The annals of IT techs are littered with good back plans gone wrong when the backups they thought they had couldn't be restored.
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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2,284 Posts
A word in your shell-like ear........
Ubuntu.
I will share some good stuff later tonight when I have more time, but honestly, having worked in tech., the best way to run Windows is virtualized on Linux.

I am getting ready to switch another small company over to Linux Mint (an Ubuntu derivative) running XP on Virtualbox for ACT! and QuickBooks.

Virtualbox has snapshotting, that works, built in. Once you are working in Linux and XP simultaneously you may start to realize what sane (the Linux half) computing is like, ask the Mac-heads to describe it to you.

The crazy part is, your computer shouldn't get slower as the months go by. That is just another defect along with viruses/trojans/spyware the Windows users think applies to all computers.

It doesn't, +100 to what Neo posted. You have no idea how peaceful and predictable computing can be till you get off Windows. :thumbsup:
 

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Ok so im noticeing some bad info about OS's again. Viruses, malware and worms are on every OS ever made! Yes even Linux. You should not be running any system without some kind of anti virus. Every Linux user I know uses some form of AV. Mainly because of having to deal with cross contamination from windows systems. The threat is still there and no system is 100% safe. I have never had a virus or malware issue in all the years I have been building and using pc's because of using AV software. yes people have problems but it's because of user error and not the OS.
 

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Money Changer
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804 Posts
A word in your shell-like ear........
Ubuntu.
I checked out the Ubuntu site and it looks interesting. I'm willing to give it a try but what is the learning curve changing over as a windows user?

Do I need to get rid of windows completely?

What about e-mail (currently on outlook)?

I think I switched to FF from IE from a post here and am glad to see FF is included.

An inquiring mind wants to know........
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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2,284 Posts
Ok so im noticeing some bad info about OS's again. 1)Viruses, malware and worms are on every OS ever made! Yes even Linux. You should not be running any system without some kind of anti virus. 2)Every Linux user I know uses some form of AV. Mainly because of having to deal with cross contamination from windows systems. The threat is still there and no system is 100% safe. I have never had a virus or malware issue in all the years I have been building and using pc's because of using AV software. 3)yes people have problems but it's because of user error and not the OS.
1) Correct and still misleading. Linux and OSX over their entire history have viruses numbering in the hundreds, viruses which aren't able to credibly survive and spread in the real world (what's called "in the wild"). Windows has viruses numbering in the high hundreds of thousands, and every time you hear a virus story in the news it is, in fact, a Windows virus. Every time.

2)This is a confused statement. Are you saying Linux users that you know run AV software to clean Windows viruses they come in contact with, to help keep other Windows boxes from becoming infected? Because you can't infect a Linux or OSX box with a Windows virus. Linux and OSX users don't run AV software to safeguard their own system, because they don't need to.

3)People have problems with Windows because Windows is a poorly architected, buggy OS.

I'm getting a little tired of your disinformation about Windows. You want to use it? That's your choice. You want to defend it, use facts. Defend it's strengths but stop trying to pretend it's weakness's are shared by other systems.

When I tell folks about Linux I am straight with them about the shortage of popular commercial, consumer & small business software.

When you tell people Windows is as secure as Linux or OSX you are giving them wrong information, Google as I said before, proves that case in about 60 seconds.

You could correct yourself, I have tried to correct you, at this point I have to assume you either lack the ability to do even basic research, or want to mislead folks.

You want to challenge what I say then stop screwing around and start providing links, 'cause I can, a never ending stream of them.

If you can't back up your statements with third party corroboration then go to school or pipe down.
 

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1) Correct and still misleading. Linux and OSX over their entire history have viruses numbering in the hundreds, viruses which aren't able to credibly survive and spread in the real world (what's called "in the wild"). Windows has viruses numbering in the high hundreds of thousands, and every time you hear a virus story in the news it is, in fact, a Windows virus. Every time.

2)This is a confused statement. Are you saying Linux users that you know run AV software to clean Windows viruses they come in contact with, to help keep other Windows boxes from becoming infected? Because you can't infect a Linux or OSX box with a Windows virus. Linux and OSX users don't run AV software to safeguard their own system, because they don't need to.

3)People have problems with Windows because Windows is a poorly architected, buggy OS.

I'm getting a little tired of your disinformation about Windows. You want to use it? That's your choice. You want to defend it, use facts. Defend it's strengths but stop trying to pretend it's weakness's are shared by other systems.

When I tell folks about Linux I am straight with them about the shortage of popular commercial, consumer & small business software.

When you tell people Windows is as secure as Linux or OSX you are giving them wrong information, Google as I said before, proves that case in about 60 seconds.

You could correct yourself, I have tried to correct you, at this point I have to assume you either lack the ability to do even basic research, or want to mislead folks.

You want to challenge what I say then stop screwing around and start providing links, 'cause I can, a never ending stream of them.

If you can't back up your statements with third party corroboration then go to school or pipe down.

I'm not saying windows is better or worse. What I'm saying is people need to stop saying windows is worse because of viruses. Practice what you preach and check google for information on Linux and available viruses and the many available anti viruses. If there was truly nothing to worry about like you say then why so many antivirus programs for such a sercure system! :blink:Like I say if viruses are the only thing people can ever bash windows for then it's a simple fix. Run free anti virus. I know many people who have run windows without ever having anti virus. Mainly because they know what they should be downloading and what they shouldn't. I do the same and have never had one infection on my system but still take the precaution of anti virus. But as I say again and again viruses on any system are a moot point because you have an option of anti virus.
 

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In regards to Anti-virus defense, I was using Norton and about 4yrs ago got infected with I don't know what, but EVERYTHING was lost. Took my computer into a restoration specialist, and he said everything was gone, including Norton.

I've been using Trend Micro for the last 4ys with absolutely no complaints.

Norton can keep it.
 

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Curmudgeon
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11,706 Posts
I'm not saying windows is better or worse. What I'm saying is people need to stop saying windows is worse because of viruses. Practice what you preach and check google for information on Linux and available viruses and the many available anti viruses. If there was truly nothing to worry about like you say then why so many antivirus programs for such a sercure system! :blink:Like I say if viruses are the only thing people can ever bash windows for then it's a simple fix. Run free anti virus. I know many people who have run windows without ever having anti virus. Mainly because they know what they should be downloading and what they shouldn't. I do the same and have never had one infection on my system but still take the precaution of anti virus. But as I say again and again viruses on any system are a moot point because you have an option of anti virus.
What I'm saying is, besides
all of the other crap I no longer
have to endure from XP, this computer
runs waaaaay faster than it ever did.
I also have more applications installed.
 

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In regards to Anti-virus defense, I was using Norton and about 4yrs ago got infected with I don't know what, but EVERYTHING was lost. Took my computer into a restoration specialist, and he said everything was gone, including Norton.

I've been using Trend Micro for the last 4ys with absolutely no complaints.

Norton can keep it.
Correct. Norton is the biggest pos anti virus. I have been using avast for the last 3-4 years and I think AVS before that and Panda before that. All of which worked extremely compared to the paid versions from larger companies.
 

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What I'm saying is, besides
all of the other crap I no longer
have to endure from XP, this computer
runs waaaaay faster than it ever did.
I also have more applications installed.
Systems being slow have never been a problem I have come across because I have always run hardware way more powerful than min requirements. Intact running any system close to min requirements is a bad idea. To often do I here people complain their 10 year old pentium is having problems running XP or vista. Vista's whole reason for bad reviews was because of it being installed on hardware to a low spec. Ask anyone who had a good pc what they thought of vista and you will here nothing but great reviews. Much better than XP in my eyes. Not 1 BSOD in almost 4 years of using it.

I'm sure anything running under Linux is faster without doubt. But I have never found a need to run Linux on anything but a PS3
 

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Just to add another thumbs up for Ubuntu Linux! Once you realize how many options you have with open source, you'll ask yourself why you ever bothered with the headache that Windows gives you!!!

Try it for yourself, remember it's FREE! http://www.ubuntu.com/ burn a copy of Ubuntu/Linux and run it from a live cd to try it out without having to install NADA. If you don't like it, throw the disk in the trash! But chances are you'll love it.

Not only does Ubuntu make installing a breeze, but you can do a simple dual boot installation on your HD.. So you're basically running two OS on the same HD..

If you have certain windows programs you need to run in linux, install a plugin called "wine" and run your windows programs through that....

Either way, Linux kicks arse!!!
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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2,284 Posts
I checked out the Ubuntu site and it looks interesting. I'm willing to give it a try but what is the learning curve changing over as a windows user?
Studies done at business' that have changed over found that there was little difficulty for new users. The main challenge is simply to keep an open mind and realize that Linux is a different "system" like OSX. You cant expect Linux to be Windows any more than you would expect OSX to be.

Do I need to get rid of windows completely?
Not at all, exactly the opposite. When I set up a new Windows user on Linux I do two things.

1) Install Linux alongside Windows on the hard drive. Then when you boot up your computer you get a menu that lets you choose whether to boot into Linux or your previous Windows install.

2) If the computer has good enough hardware, 1.8 gz processor, 2-3 Gigs of RAM, 100 Gig hard drive or better, I set them up with XP running in Virtualbox as well. This is like having XP running as an application on Linux so you access and use both at the same time.

So you would have two ways to windows, one being your existing set up.

What about e-mail (currently on outlook)?
Outlook is really used two different ways, either as a email client or as a email+groupware client. If you are using it as an email client then most folks use Mozilla Thunderbird or Evolution. If you are using Outlooks groupware features then you would use Evolution. you would also use Evolution if you were connecting to an Exchange server generally only comes into play for business's (Evolution + Exchange "connector"). I assume you are just talking about email from your ISP?

http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/

Thunderbird also has a calendaring extension that can sync with Google calendars called Lightning.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/2313/

As well as many more extensions (by the way outlook is the second most prolific vector of viruses for Windows (or maybe they are reversed)).

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/

You can download and try Thunderbird on Windows and see if you like it.

Evolution doesn't have a stable Windows port, just Linux.

http://projects.gnome.org/evolution/screenshots.shtml

I think I switched to FF from IE from a post here and am glad to see FF is included.
I think you mean from IE to FF. (I think I should read it again:whistling) :clap:

An inquiring mind wants to know........
Neo got you too Ubuntu and that is what I ran and put Windows users on almost since Ubuntu began, but I recently switched to a derivative of Ubuntu called Linux Mint. Mint takes Ubuntu and rearranges the UI (User Interface, i.e. desktop) to be more similar to Windows and adds stuff that Ubuntu leaves out (for philosophical/legal reasons) like Java, Flash, audio & video/dvd codecs. I find Mint is an easier transition for Windows users and less setup work for me. Ubuntu's desktop is closer to OSX, and Mint's is closer to Windows. They both actually use the same Window Manager software, Gnome, and you can make each look however you want they just come set up differently by default.

http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

The link you want is the top one that says "Live CD", and just like Ubuntu if you know you have a 64 bit processor then download that one (the "amd64" link) or if you are unsure then download the 32 bit version (the "i386" link).

You will burn that .iso file to a 700 Meg CD with burning software that has a "write/burn image/iso to disk" option, all of these do.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-cd-dvd-burning-software.htm#Quick_Selection_Guide

Both Ubuntu and Mint are "Live CD's" which means you can put them in a CD drive and reboot the computer and it will run Linux from the CD without having to install to the hard drive. It will run slower than it would from the hard drive simply because CD-ROMs are slower devices than hard drives. We use Live CDs to sample the particular version of Linux, in this case Ubuntu and Mint and also to check ahead of time that all the hardware is supported.

If you get stuck with any of this, have more questions, or want to talk more about actually installing just fire away.
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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2,284 Posts
In regards to Anti-virus defense, I was using Norton and about 4yrs ago got infected with I don't know what, but EVERYTHING was lost. Took my computer into a restoration specialist, and he said everything was gone, including Norton.

I've been using Trend Micro for the last 4ys with absolutely no complaints.

Norton can keep it.
Trend Micro is the AV I went with when I was running the IT Dept. in a previous life, good products. :thumbsup:

Yeah, Norton consumer grade products have a special reputation in the biz for suckin'.
 
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