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Portland Home Remodeling
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Computer connected to a UPS. Trend antivirus. All my drives are Raid 5 which is my main "insurance plan." I use Server 2003 and love it. Back up to a hard drive. Beyond that I don't worry anymore. Over 25 years I've had crashes and all kinds of stuff but usually you have some warning. One
 

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Doer of Many Things!!!
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I've got an old machine set up with Linux Mint myself. I switched it over from Ubuntu because Mint just plain works better for some reason. I had less problems getting my pain in the butt ATI card set up in Mint than in Ubuntu, which constantly black screened before I could get to the desktop to install the proprietary graphics drivers. I like Mint quite a bit and I am constantly tinkering with it. Unfortunately this rig is too old to effectively run a virtual machine without serious speed issues. That said, I still don't think I could replace Windows with Mint in a working environment, at least not unless I was going to transition all machines and software to it with some extensive planning.

Linux has gotten easier to understand and there are no end of resources to help you get the hang of it. I agree that someone who has never used a computer before will have an easier time picking it up. It just like when Vista came out and no one could find a damn thing since they changed the location of everything for no apparent reason.

As for A/V solutions on Linux, yes there are several of them. Mostly this is because Linux is used a lot on server equipment and these A/V softwares are designed to scan all traffic before the packets make it to the destination machine. Linux is popular as an email server OS. Would you want to have your email come in completely unchecked when you are on a Windows machine just because we want to prove how secure Linux is by not running an A/V on it? There are in reality very few virus's on Linux. Windows viruses can't install and run correctly on Linux but you can be a carrier and infect someone else who is running Windows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Interesting discussion, even a little feisty at times. I've never worked on Linux, but I do use a wide variety of apps which I'm not sure how well would run. My primary reason for using so many flavors of Windows is not because I'm totally in love with it, but I need to be able to replicate as many issues as possible in troubleshooting situations. Since I do mostly web design, it involves a lot of testing. I run the most common configurations to assure I'm seeing what the majority will see.

If it weren't for that, I'd probably want to live in my own box world and care less what problems everyone else is having.

One thing I doubt anyone will argue with about Windows, it keeps the techs busy (job security). For all the slamming of Windows we love to do, to take computing from trained tech users only to where anyone could figure out how to use it was an ambitious undertaking. MS may not have been the only one to do this, but I think they embraced the idea before most other companies did. To create something both idiot proof and stable is a lot to ask.

Windows probably isn't quite as evil as they get accused of, but it does have issues. I'm sure they could do better, but one of the drawbacks to being so successful is you paint a huge target on your back. Some people live for the sole purpose of finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in Windows. I don't envy MS when they have to constantly deal with that.
 

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I've switched over my entire home (5 computers) to MacOS over the last 3 years. NONE of them have AV on them, nor do I plan to install any, until there is an actual virus outbreak on MacOS.

I would not suggest you use an imaging software for your backups. Most likely you'll just end up taking a backup of whatever is causing your problems. Then you'll just restore it back and you are no better off. I agree that you should be using a hosted backup option like mozy or carbonite. Then you don't have to worry about taking your backups off site. You should just make sure your data is always backed up. Then if your computer starts crashing or running slow, you just rebuild it with the system disks that came with your computer, do all the available updates (regardless of what OS you are using). Then install your AV software (I suggest Microsoft Security Essentials, it is free, and at least average). Once you are all up to date on your AV software, re-install your 3rd party software and then restore your data.

Linux is great! BUT, there is a learning curve indeed. You'll have to get used to non-microsoft productivity software. Things are different, but if you can make the jump and not negatively impact your business in the process, you won't be disappointed. Your IT support bills will drop over time as you have less and less issues with Windows.
 

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BUT, if we are still talking about a slow computer, and how to speed it up, here are my suggestions.

1. More RAM - Maybe you don't have viruses or malware. Maybe you just have more OS than your computer can handle. If your PC is old, but still running WinXP, the service packs and fixes you have added, as well as IE upgrades, use up more ram than XP did when you bought it. You also may have some newer programs (newer versions of Office) that are running slow due to lack of RAM.

2. Too many applications running - Check the system tray (the little icons by your clock in the bottom right). Each of those is a program that is running currently and using up CPU cycles and RAM. Right click on the icons and look for preferences or settings. Some of them can be set to NOT start automatically. Just be sure you know what you are disabling. Don't turn off your AV software or backup software.

3. Malware - Download process explorer, (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx) it is like task manager on steroids. Great for identifying applications that you might not want running. If you have some that you can't get rid of try Combofix (http://www.combofix.org/). Don't be confused by the advertisement for some spyware removal software on the site. Make sure you just download the combofix program itself.

4. Your computer is just too darn old. A 5 year old machine NEEDS to be replaced. You got your money's worth out of it, you have already fully depreciated it, and it is killing your computing productivity. Just bite the bullet and upgrade.
 

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Recommending Combofix to a novice is extremely dangerous. Combofix can totally wreck a system if you don't know what you are doing with it. Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware are better options for most. A 5 year old computer does NOT need replaced if it is doing what you need it to do. My main rig at home is almost 8 years old and I'm just now thinking of a whole new build. It'll still work fine for a linux machine to work on the internet with.
 

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If you follow the instructions with combofix, it is pretty simple, or so I found. And I only recommended replacing a 5 year old computer, if it is running slow and wrecking your productivity. It's too bad that you had to post on here just to flame me. I was making suggestions, you were just trying to bust my chops. Thanks for your productive postings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I would not suggest you use an imaging software for your backups.
I hope I didn't confuse the issue of a disk image with backups. I fully agree. The image is ONLY for a state of known good to recover a computer to. Restoring backups has to be done very carefully for the exact reason you stated, to avoid migrating issues over to a freshly recovered computer.

I've actually used the technique you suggested with just reinstalling everything, and I've done it many times for different people. But as I stated above, that method now creates problems because MS decided to make "improvements" to their Automatic Updates. An image file seems like a better solution, but it does need to capture a state of "working good" to be of any use.

I'm also a strong advocate of offsite backups when combined with a solid onsite backup strategy. Onsite is what I call "first line of defense" while the offsite provides a solution to a "worst case scenario." With 80% of all businesses failing after a computer disaster, it's too risky to be playing Russian Roulette with data.
 

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What I have done with a company that I've done consulting work is this:

They bought 10 computers at once, all identical. I set one up with all the software they wanted, all the updates, and AV. Then I used Ghost to make an image of this state for them to use for restores when the computers start crashing. These are just standard workstations with no vital data on them.

Right now they have a pretty slow ISP (a Verizon broadband card is the best they can get). So they have 2 USB hard drives that they do daily backups to. Each week they rotate on drive offsite. So if they have a catastrophic failure, they only lose 1 day of data. If they have a complete loss (fire or theft), they would lose everything up to the last time they took a drive off site.

Each business is unique and the owners of the business just need to sure they understand the risks and advantages of each technique, or mixture, as you suggest.
 

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Portland Home Remodeling
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They bought 10 computers at once, all identical. I set one up with all the software they wanted, all the updates, and AV. Then I used Ghost to make an image of this state for them to use for restores when the computers start crashing. These are just standard workstations with no vital data on them.
This is why so many people are going to Citrix...:w00t:
 

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Doer of Many Things!!!
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Recommending Combofix to a novice is extremely dangerous. Combofix can totally wreck a system if you don't know what you are doing with it. Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware are better options for most. A 5 year old computer does NOT need replaced if it is doing what you need it to do. My main rig at home is almost 8 years old and I'm just now thinking of a whole new build. It'll still work fine for a linux machine to work on the internet with.
I'm not trying to bust your chops. I just hate to see programs like Combofix recommended to freely. Even the professional spyware removal boards warn heavily against using programs of this nature without guided support.

As for the computer, unless it was a piece of junk to begin with or your technology needs have massively increased in 5 years, there should be no need to replace it. Minor upgrades and cleanup should keep it working fine for a while yet.
 

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Doer of Many Things!!!
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There are the system requirements for Mint:

  • x86 processor
  • 192 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 3 GB of disk space for installation
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD-ROM drive or USB port
I'm running it on 1GB of RAM with a 160GB HDD with pretty good performance. Most people seem to recommend at least 10GB of HDD space for decent performance. This is an old P4 2.0GHz machine so it's doing pretty good with Mint compared to how XP Home ran on it. A lot of that has to do with not have to run active A/V though.
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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"As everyone knows by now who follows technology news, the Financial Times reported that Google "is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows operating system because of security concerns." Some doubt this story, because they say that's its vague about sources. Well, I asked, and the story is 'mostly' right. Google is switching away from Windows to Linux and Macs, but it's not just because of security.

I e-mailed Google and, according to a Google official, while "We're always working to improve the efficiency of our business, but we don't comment on specific operational matters." That's not much of a statement, but did you notice the key word there? It's 'efficiency.'

I then got on the phone, IM and e-mail with my friends at Google and they told me off-the-record pretty much what the Google employees told the Financial Times that "Many people have been moved away from [Windows] PCs, mostly towards Mac OS, following the China hacking attacks." But, following that efficiency word around, I was also told that Linux was far cheaper than Windows and that many Google users preferred it, in any case, to Windows. While many others found Macs to just be more useful than Windows PCs.

Google's internal users have eclectic tastes when it comes to Linux. Ubuntu was quite popular, but so was-surprise!--Google's own Android; Fedora; openSUSE; and the newly released MeeGo. As for the Mac users, I got the impression there may be more MacBook Pro users at Google than there are at Apple.

The Linux users preferred it for all the usual reasons: It was faster, more secure, and more stable than Windows. In addition, it did everything they needed. As you might guess, Chrome is the Web browser of choice for Google Linux users, and many of them use Google's SaaS (Software as a Service) applications like Google Docs. As one of them told me, "Why should I waste my time with Windows and all its pain in the ass junk when I can do everything I need to do with Chrome on Ubuntu?" The Mac users, in turn, sounded like most people who like Macs. They preferred its interface and applications to those of either Linux or Windows.

Now, some analysts claim that Google's move away from Linux isn't about security at all. Instead, they would have it that it's all about Google positioning itself to do battle with Microsoft and Windows. I'm sure that's part of it too, but for their claims that Windows is secure is just utter and total nonsense. Windows is insecure by design. Always has been, always will be. To pretend that Windows' security costs and failures aren't important to Fortune 500 companies is total balderdash.

Have these fools forgotten that China attacked Google and many other major companies only a few months ago? Do you think sticking with an operating system that's has as many holes in as a fisherman's net make sense? I don't think so! As one staffer told me, "I am not going to be the next guy to hose the company because of Windows."

Sure, Mac OS X has its security problems as well, but, in practice, it's still more secure than Windows. As for Linux, it's more secure than either one, and it's always been much tougher to attack than the others.

There's also been some silly talk about how Google can't really mean that they're switching away from Windows because so many of their users depend on Windows. Uh... what makes you think that just because the rank and file is moving to other operating systems means that the developers aren't going to be using Windows machines? Heck, I'm about as pro-Linux desktop a person on the planet, and I use Windows PCs all the time for reviews. Of course, Google will still use Windows system for development and testing.

I'm also sure that there are some special applications that don't exist on Linux and Macs that will still be running on Windows PCs. But, seriously, what work-a-day jobs can't you do on a Linux PC or Mac these days? Are there any? I can go days without 'needing' to touch my Windows PCs.
My buddy Jason Perlow, who also runs multiple operating systems, has found that he can meet 80% of his computing needs without Windows and for the rest he uses virtualized Windows on Linux. That works for me, and it probably does for Google as well.

The bottom line is that Google wants to be both more secure and more efficient. To do that, it makes perfect sense for them to abandon Windows for Linux and Mac OS X. Come to think of it, it makes perfect sense for most companies as well."

http://blogs.computerworld.com/16232/good_bye_windows_hello_linux_mac_says_google
 

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It will be a long time until google give up Microsoft in the US Apple has around 6% of the current OS market and worldwide less than 2%. Linux has even less. It's going to stay that way for a long time. 10 years ago apple were saying they were gonna control the largest % of the OS in 2010 and they are still far from it.

Did you also know that most people with infected computers no matter what OS give their computers permission to run them. This is a problem that can't be fixed on any platform. User error is the biggest problem of any system and or course windows having such a big user base means these programs are written by the truck load.
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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Part 1

K, here are some thoughts for Windows users on keeping your Windows speedy.

CBS you are kind of asking two questions aiming for the same answer, "How do I make Windows fast?"

First is how to keep windows fast and second is what to do if it slows up.

So when you get your pristine computer from Dell, Walmart, HP wherever, it is as fast as it's ever going to be for you, er...not necessarily. There are two sources of slow down to that new computer fresh out of the box (which are basically the same thing, running processes) i.e. active "services" (parts of Windows functionality), and apps that have been installed, software for hardware, and trial ware/freebies.

Generally speaking, if you want a well performing system, you want to uninstall most of the "crapware" that comes preloaded. For example, one of Norton's worst sins is the amount of hardware resources it takes up; there are several lighter weight options, Avira, Avast, Trend etc. Utilities that come with printers, scanners, multifunction devices, cameras, generally suck, are redundant to the OS or the apps you actually will use and try to run all the time.

Basically, the less stuff (processes) you have running the "faster" your computer will be. Look down at the "System Tray", you will see the collection of icons grow as you install more and more apps. You want to make as many of those icons go away as possible. This generally entails opening the app. that is tied to that icon and finding the "preferences" or "options" and turning off "check for updates", "start when Windows starts" or any variations on these.

Also check out the "Start Up" folder on the start menu, that should routinely get emptied out as well. The only apps most folks should want running constantly are security apps, AV, firewall, and spyware/trojan checkers if you choose one (I generally run the spyware/trojan checkers on demand).

Windows Services are something most users never even know about that are sucking up resources constantly. This site has great info on what theses services do and what turning them off affects. This site is solid gold info for beginning to understand and control windows. Turning off all unused services will give you noticeably faster boot times, lower memory usage, and snappier performance, as well as reducing possible sources of instability.

http://www.blackviper.com/

If you have installed a clean version of Windows, OEM or retail, then go straight to the blackviper tutorial/services shut down.

...
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Good post, moore. This is all familiar territory for me, but it's good advice that many people here should find useful.

In my own experience, my computer has always been very fast because I of practices like you outlined. I keep the startup clean and keep close watch on how resources get used. I even use classic settings because the "eye candy" comes at a cost, and I'd rather let my apps have the resources than to let the OS hog them with unnecessary fluff. XP Pro is by far the fastest version of XP and you can usually keep it that way following your advice above.

My problem came in somewhere over the last couple months where my machine started slowing down and I was unable to identify the cause. I don't like having to do a recovery, but it is an effective way to flush out constipation from a computer. Since I keep good backups, I didn't expect any major problems other than time. It's the virtually useless "automation" in the Automatic Updates that caused the problems I experienced.

One of my main reasons for starting this thread was to warn anyone who does these recoveries that they don't go as smoothly as they used to. I've done the process many times, but whatever MS did to change their Automatic Update process, it was not an improvement. Theoretically, it's supposed to detect what you have, don't have, need, and in what order. From what I could tell, it was failing to get the order right. It was as if it was trying to put a screw on a hole that didn't exist rather than drill the hole first.

The other reason I had in mind for this thread was to get feedback on any experience someone here may have had on using a disk image to do a recovery. It's one thing to run an image program. It's another thing for it to actually work when you need it.
 

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Fortune and glory, kid.
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Good post, moore. This is all familiar territory for me, but it's good advice that many people here should find useful.
Yeah, that post was meant to be a plodding, detailed bit for folks that are less knowledgeable on the subject; I expected most of it to be old hat to you. Although the services info is actually good stuff for even technical folks, you would have to do a lot of trolling on Google/MSDN to get what is in one compact location right there.

My problem came in somewhere over the last couple months where my machine started slowing down and I was unable to identify the cause. I don't like having to do a recovery, but it is an effective way to flush out constipation from a computer. Since I keep good backups, I didn't expect any major problems other than time. It's the virtually useless "automation" in the Automatic Updates that caused the problems I experienced.
It's harder after the fact, but you can crack open Taskmanager and check your running processes, that should be the final story (though it's not) on what is running under the hood.

This guy Mark Russinovich has quite a rep and several books, then MS snapped him up, for producing great tools to debug and profile windows. Most can still be gotten from here,

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb545027.aspx

if I remember rightly there are a couple that do a good job of a) dumping running processes and then b) mapping those processes to each other and their calling apps.

One of my main reasons for starting this thread was to warn anyone who does these recoveries that they don't go as smoothly as they used to. I've done the process many times, but whatever MS did to change their Automatic Update process, it was not an improvement. Theoretically, it's supposed to detect what you have, don't have, need, and in what order. From what I could tell, it was failing to get the order right. It was as if it was trying to put a screw on a hole that didn't exist rather than drill the hole first.
Honestly, I personally have never really trusted MS software. If they can't produce a stable OS why would their snapshot/backup tools be different? They just don't make quality software as a general rule. Add to that that most of their product development is marketing driven vs. technically driven and it's just not something i have ever cared to rely on. (see below)

The other reason I had in mind for this thread was to get feedback on any experience someone here may have had on using a disk image to do a recovery. It's one thing to run an image program. It's another thing for it to actually work when you need it.
I will throw out a few options that might prove useful in part two, but honestly most of my restore experience is years old with Ghost and it worked well enough back then. Today, as I mentioned earlier, I now mostly run Windows virtualized in Virtualbox which has solid tools for both cloning of a pristine image and maintaining a multiple snapshot history. I will say that I would (and am) seriously looking at the Linux/FOSS/LiveCD collection of tools, and it is extensive (for helping Windows users as you yourself seem to do). They are also free and generally of high quality, certainly they are driven solely by technical merit, and with the source code being open you tend to get the very best code a person can deliver as opposed to closed source which is done by people punching a clock, to meet a deadline, in a product format where no one will ever see any shortcuts or ugly hacks or bugs that don't have an immediate effect on a use case.

Works of love vs. works of wages.

I just came across this today which looks interesting (there are so many in the FOSS world). You can create a backup image and burn it into a liveCD. I will be checking into this one when I get a minute.

http://mephistobackup.webhop.org/

And lastly, for you CBSCreative, you said you do a lot of site checking on various OS/browser combos. Are you using virtualization?
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
moorewarner said:
And lastly, for you CBSCreative, you said you do a lot of site checking on various OS/browser combos. Are you using virtualization?
So far, no. I have different computers each with a variety of browsers. I've not yet become aware of any issues that didn't already show up on at least one of my tests. For the most part, I've noticed if I test in IE6 and 7 or 8, Firefox, and Opera, one of those usually has the same bug that would show up in another browser. I'm not quite prepared to say testing in each of those is foolproof, but it does seem to identify almost any potential problem area.

If I need to be more thorough, I have a site bookmarked that will test a page on as many virtualized platforms as any tech would desire. Most of the designs I do don't require that level of detail since they use "tried and true" programming that's already been tested, but when I need to stray to a path less traveled, then testing is essential.

I'll also point out that I'm referring to technical testing just to be sure my post doesn't get misunderstood by anyone else reading it. "Usability testing" should be done on EVERY site, meaning have real human beings that know nothing about your business provide feedback. I know a very low percentage of sites get this, and the owners would probably be shocked at what they would learn if they did usability testing. That kind of strays from the topic here, but I still thought it was important to clarify what I was referring to.
 

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Wow thats probably the most common problem with any windows pc...lolz but jokes apart il state the obvious.
1. might want to look at increasing the ram
2. free up the space on the hdd
3. increase your virtual memory
4. disable the non relevant background programs and the non relevant programs loaded on startup

I know there are a lot more....but these came to my in a new york minute :)
 
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