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Is this problem with Windows XP real?

by JEBB / July 21, 2006 7:58 AM PDT

I was at a computer club meeting yesterday and there was one discussion about how Windows creates many files that over a relatvely short time significantly degrade the system's performance. One person there, taken by most present as being something of an expert, said yes it is a problem and that the only way to deal with it is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows and everything else. He said it probably needs to be done once or twice a year.

Is this problem real? Is nuking and repaving the only way to deal with it?

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It's true...
by PKsteven / July 21, 2006 8:25 AM PDT

Windows keeps registry files from everything that happens on a pc, but it's not JUST Windows. When you install programs etc...many things get left behind and you can't clean everything as some become shared critical files, etc...A pc does in time get cluttered but whether or not you HAVE to reinstall every so often , isn't a rule. It really depends on what YOU do on your computer and how often. I do typically reinstall my system before the year is up. As mentioned, you can't get rid of everything and a reinstall is about the only way to actually do this without chancing further corruption by deleting needed files. If you keep the computer from getting a lot of junk to begin with , regular maintenence can keep it running fine as the pc i'm on right now, hasn't had a reinstall in 3 years. It's my wife's so I don't keep up the maintenence , she does, lol. But it does run fine with regular defrag, cleanup, etc...

So while the basis of this is TRUE, for sticklers as myself will reinstall as often as possible where people such as my wife simply don't care and do regular maintenence.


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I've never heard of it. . .
by Coryphaeus / July 21, 2006 8:27 AM PDT

XP does create a ''Prefetch'' folder where recently accessed files are stored for faster access. That folder can become quite large, but you can delete the contents if you want. But as a general rule, I've never heard of what you're asking about.

Some people like to do a reinstall every once in a while. But I have four machines and I've never had to reinstall. And my HDs contain only what I've put there. Keeping the machine clean of spyware/malware etc. is, in my opinion, the key.

You might ask this person where and what kind of files he's talking about.


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Not really
by jnbhoward / July 21, 2006 9:43 AM PDT

The number of files present does nothing to affect performance, that's just a myth. Large numbers of files can degrade performance in specific tasks, such as generating a list of them all, but beyond that, won't affect a thing. And technically performance isn't degraded so much as it just takes a long time to process a great many files.

What CAN happen, is that you will install a number of programs that like to leave bits of themselves running at all times. Almost every icon next to your clock is a program that is consuming resources. Some more than others. This is a quick way to sort of nickel and dime yourself to death.

You can also pick up a bunch of malware garbage if you use Internet Explorer and aren't extremely careful about what you're doing. These can have a significant effect on performance and stability, as they often aren't of the highest quality.

In some rare cases, things left behind by uninstall programs can cause problems with other programs. However, the problem of software conflicts is vastly inflated, and just an excuse handed out by the people who write the canned answer scripts for the tech support people. True software conflicts are really pretty rare.

Same goes for corruption. If a program gets corrupted, it's either due to a bug in the program that mangles its own data, or your HDD is defective. In some case, external sources can be a problem, like AV programs getting overzealous, or malware/viruses, but program corruption is another favored whipping boy for people who don't want, or don't know how, to take the time to find the real cause.

I'll say that formatting isn't the only way to deal with these problems, but in many cases it's the quickest and easiest. You could spend many hours trying to clean up after some particularly nasty malware or virus, with no real guarantee it will ever be the same as it was, or you can just format and start fresh.

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