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Why does Windows require so much "hands-on" maintenance?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 6, 2015 5:33 PM PST
Why does Windows require so much "hands-on" maintenance?

So many articles mention "keep background programs to a minimum" but there is nothing available to identify what (70 programs on this laptop) with gibberish names are doing. Why can't this super-smart marvel take care of itself? Why does Windows require so much "hands-on" maintenance? Am I the only who wonders about this? I look forward to reading your opinions.

--Submitted by: Howie L.
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Do a little checking!
by FiOS_Dave / November 6, 2015 10:07 PM PST

Actually, Windows requires very little "hands on" maintenance!
If your computer has enough memory and is fast enough (most 5 year old and newer computers do), it can easily handle that load. All computers start to slow down as their storage becomes fragmented. It may be time for you to defrag your hard drive! Also, there are several free programs that will show you what programs are loaded, what they do and if they need upgrading. It would be difficult for Windows to know about every piece of software you have loaded and its effect on your system, although, the Task Manager can given you a good idea of what software is putting the biggest load on the system. (Right clicck lower left corner and select Task Manager). You can then see the load on the CPU, memory, Disk and Network. You can also use the Programs & Features selection to delete old programs. That selection can show you the name of the software, its size, company of manufacure and the date it was installed. With some occasional, minor maintenace, your computer should run quickly and cleanly!

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what software?
by ndlicht--2008 / November 13, 2015 8:22 PM PST
In reply to: Do a little checking!

What software can check : "there are several free programs that will show you what programs are loaded, what they do and if they need upgrading." ?

The article and you suggest that but dont give us any software names, etc to get the right software to do the job. Help please with some suggestions and or what to search for if you dont know the names of them. Thanks

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Suggestions for "What Software"
by Handyman6638 / November 14, 2015 10:48 AM PST
In reply to: what software?

Advanced Systemcare 8.4 (and newer versions) are excellent at finding problems with programs, registry errors, disk fragmentation, internet connection issues, and many others. I use the "paid" PRO version as I found it not expensive for the benefits you get, but even the "free" version (yes, it really IS free), while not as robust, will definitely find and correct many problems and speed up the overall capabilites of your computer. As it specifically relates to this article, the IOBIT Uninstaller is very good at showing all programs installed on your computer (by the user) and also "add-ons" (toolbars and plug-ins) that sometimes come bundled with other software that you don't want or need, and can uninstall them quickly and easily. Additionally, the Iobit Uninstaller goes much deeper than the built-in Windows Uninstall program to get rid of a lot of the "bloat" that Windows does NOT uninstall when you try to delete a program from your computer. (look for the "Deep Scan" checkmark). Another important program it gives you is "Startup Manager", which allows you to actually view all user-installed startup items, their effect on boot time, resources used (%), name of the manufacturer, and the ability for the user to Stop, Delay, or Delete the item. For inexperienced users there is even a "1-click" Optimization button to speed up startup. While I highly recommend this product, I am not associated with the company in any way, I just really like it. That being said, you cannot rely on it alone. You MUST be proactive about keeping "drive-by" programs from downloading onto your computer, so you simply MUST have a good, robust anti-virus, and a good anti-malware program. Again, I use the paid versions, but I believe you get what you pay for. I also strongly recommend MalwareBytes (paid version) as it includes a very good anti-exploit capabilty that prevents most known malware from even downloading. (well, unless maybe from Chinese government hackers..) The major benefit of the paid version is it "auto-updates" the database to keep the program current on startup.

Back to Windows only interactions, if you are comfortable with using DOS, you can try using "msconfig" in the Windows "Search Programs and Files" (in Win 7), and then "uncheck" any listing under Services or Startup that you don't wish to have running when the computer boots up. Make sure to make a list of what you uncheck, so that if something doesn't work later as you expected you can return and put a checkmark back in. I would strongly suggest that you do an internet search of each line item you wish to possibly uncheck so as to NOT stop critical processes in Windows itself. (most of the time Winows won't let you stop critical processes anyway, but I simply mention it to make sure you are being careful.

From experience, I can tell you that if you are experiencing a significant computer slowdown when TRYING to do computer maintanence, it is often from programs interfering with each other... specifically, as when you are trying to "Defragment" the computer and your Anti-virus and/or Anti-malware programs are still running. If this happens, you can turn off your anti-virus temporariy, OR (and this is my preference) bring the computer up in Safe Mode, then disable the Anti-virus, anti-malware, and any other large running programs, and THEN run your defrag program. (Some versions of Windows don't allow you to defrag in Safe Mode, but the Advanced Systemcare prog will work)

All of these suggestions take time, patience, and a step-by-step approach best done using a checklist so as to make sure you do all steps, in order, and minimize the chance for mistakes.

I am sure there are other programs out there that will do similar things. I am just very familiar with the ones mentioned, and as a retired network engineer I know new ones come out all the time. Do your own "due-diligence" research on any program you consider using. Be wary of sites that "promote" certain products as they simply might be getting a kickback. Try searching for "reviews" of particlar programs, and don't buy the first you see... take your time. Good luck!

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Defrag is automatic now
by jdonalds / November 14, 2015 9:06 PM PST
In reply to: Do a little checking!

Later versions of windows automatically defrag.

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by jbschwartz--2008 / November 15, 2015 10:34 AM PST

Which versions automatically defrag? I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate with SP1. I analyze my hard drives for fragmentation once a week. My disks are always fragmented and I always need to defrag them.

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While you can google that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 15, 2015 10:45 AM PST
In reply to: Really?

I've seen stock Windows installs schedule defrag from about Windows Vista.

But your words alarm me. Even a defragged drive could and does say it needs defragging after one reboot.

There'a this story about my old neighbor that everytime I saw their PC it was running defrag. Seems they didn't get much use other than defrag from the PC.

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Automatic Defrag
by genie86333 / November 16, 2015 1:04 PM PST
In reply to: Really?

Windows 7 Professional automatically defrags - mine is set up to do so once a week - it checks on Wednesdays at 1 in the morning - but rarely needs it even then. Just to see, I checked it just now & it was 0% fragmented (with only about 36 hours until the next scheduled check.) I literally can't remember the last time when I had to manually tell either my home or my office computer to defragment itself...definitely longer than a couple of years.

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Windows also detects if you
by orlbuckeye / December 11, 2015 6:42 AM PST

have a SSD which disables defrag because defragging a SSD could actaully be counter productive. SSD uses a process called TRIM.

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Do a little checking reply.
by Traveler_Lloyd / November 16, 2015 4:16 AM PST
In reply to: Do a little checking!

I have to disagree. I am running a 4 year old Toshiba that was the top of the line when I purchased it. I recently added memory and replaced the hard drive for a larger hard drive because the computer had slowed to a crawl and I was out of space on my hard drive. On top of that, I fought a battle with Yahoo, which had suddenly hijacked my Internet browsers. (I had not paid close enough attention to a piece of software that had been required in the process of my hard drive migration.)

All of the software that you use has constant updates, including the Windows operating system. Some of those updates have been and are released with un-noticed problems. Microsoft is not the only one, but they are immune to this issue either. And some of the software that you use everyday will develop a hitchhiker along with their updates.

Software that you use everyday will suddenly not work because of a comparability problem with your security software, or some other piece of software. Attached hardware that you replace with have their own software problems. And software that you need will require other software which is a security risk.

Then there is the fact that everything connects to the Internet. The Internet has been one of the greatest advances ever. But it is also the greatest source of computer, personal, and financial problems.

All operating systems need to be babied in relation to the Internet. But with the constant changes coming from Microsoft, the Windows Operating System needs to be babied and tweaked more then some of the others.

Microsoft has given us the best computer operating systems in the world. But the greatest problems we have seen with the various Windows Operating Systems has also come from Microsoft. They believe that that they know better then you do what you are doing with your computer. And you have to keep a suspicious eye on whatever is happening with Microsoft's latest developments.

Here is the way that I look at it. A computer is a living thing. You buy it in a baby stage, and it grows as you use it. You add software and hardware to it as it grows. You may expand it's horizons with additional capabilities, such as memory, hard drives. graphic cards, improved monitors, improved paper and 3D printers, and improved connection capabilities such as WiFi and Bluetooth. And then when you buy another new computer, you are starting over with another baby computer.

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Windows doesn't do certain things right compared to Linux
by capoderra / November 7, 2015 4:58 AM PST

That's because Windows has a file system that doesn't organize data very well. In the end you have to defragment your hard drive or else your read time on your disc slows down. Also Windows does not have very good built-in security so you have to worry about viruses and therefore run antivirus programs that consume a lot of resources. Windows also has a registry that organizes all of the configuration files. Unfortunately, the registry system is not very efficient and when you install and uninstall a lot of programs, your system slows down because a lot of crap builds up which slows down the entire system whether it's booting up or running programs. These are all reasons why I left Windows and switched to Linux because Linux has a better file system so I have never had to defrag my hard drive, it has better built in security so I personally don't run antivirus programs unless I get something from the internet that I want to pass on to someone who has Windows, and it doesn't have a registry so my Linux system is as fast as today as when I first installed it, compared to Windows which I had to install every year just to bring it back to its original performance. I also hated updating individual programs, but that another story.

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What capoderra really means....
by btljooz / November 7, 2015 2:06 PM PST

When he states, " has better built in security so I personally don't run antivirus programs unless I get something from the internet that I want to pass on to someone who has Windows,....." is actually, " has better built in security so I personally don't run antivirus programs unless I get something from the internet that I do not want to pass on to someone who has Windows,....." ...emphasis mine. I'm sure that this is just a typo on capoderra's part! But be that as it may, it is a bit confusing to the neophyte.

While Linux is a LOT more secure than Windows where malware is concerned, it does have malware written specifically for it just like Windows does. However, this occurs much less and is rarer than for Windows because Windows has such a large user base in comparison to Linux. More users equals a bigger and much easier target to hit.

So as capoderra infers, the main reason to run an AV solution on Linux is more to protect Windows users than to protect Linux itself. Even though Linux, itself, may not be affected by malwarez written for Windows, Linux CAN pass them on to Windows computers. Running an AV solution on Linux helps mitigate that problem.

Some reading on the subject:

capoderra is absolutely correct in all that he says minus that typo. Some research on one's own can teach about that.

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Check Current Conditions!
by FiOS_Dave / November 7, 2015 2:50 PM PST

For those that may not know, Windows 10 is the MOST secure operating system available!
Microsoft has worked closely with Intel to provide many secure capabilities.
They have been doing this for the past five generations of Intel processors.
Windows 10 incorporates "Hello Gestures", which include fingerprint recognition, iris recognition and PIN recognition, all created to help remove the Name/Password mess.
They also use Enterprise Data Protection, Intel SecureKey and Bitlocker protection.
I don't think that the current versions of Linux (of which there are MANY) incorporate
these protections. Speaking of versions, that is a big problem with Linux.
You need to "cherry pick" in order to get the features that you like. What may appear in
one version of Linux may not appear in another.
I could get into the discussion of the internal mechanisms of the operating systems and
why one method is better, or worse, than another, but this discussion is supposed to be
for neophytes!

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Windows 10
by btljooz / November 7, 2015 3:28 PM PST

Is STILL Windows! period. The End.

At risk of really stirring the mud - Yes, there are many Linux 'versions'. But, that is what the Repositories are for. If the version you install doesn't have what you want/need all you have to do is hit the Repository and get it! No biggie! If not just try on another distro. There are MANY that can be tried out without installation by using a bootable CD. No Biggie!

Yes, each and every OS (i.e.: Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, Unix) has pros and cons. One just has to pick their poison and run with that until they decide to try something else.

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Sorry, it is a BIGGIE to a Newbie!
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 9:07 AM PST
In reply to: Windows 10

How do you expect a newbie to understand about distros? They are going to think, "Bistros", and head off to the nearest coffee shop for an answer!
If you are going to deal with a newcomer, why not take the extra effort to tell them that these are distributions, and what that means. Also, most users are lazy and don't want to go running all over the place, trying to find something that is already built into an OS.

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(NT) dream on :-P
by renegade600 / November 7, 2015 3:32 PM PST
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Windows? Secure? NOT
by Ellett / November 13, 2015 9:41 PM PST

Windows is NOT the most secure operating system available, by a long shot.

That title goes to Chrome OS.

Windows 10 may be the most secure version of Windows ever released, Redmond has done a lot of work in that respect, but if you think it's the most secure OS you should check the Department of Homeland Security's list of computer vulnerabilities and other well-known lists.

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give your source
by renegade600 / November 13, 2015 9:52 PM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT
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Chrome vs Chrome OS
by Ellett / November 13, 2015 11:30 PM PST
In reply to: give your source

Chrome (the browser) does have security issues pop up, although they are invariably patched quickly. Chrome OS is a different animal, not having the same exposures of having to run the browser on top of an insecure OS. Google offers large rewards at every major black hat conference for people to crack Chrome OS, but it's very difficult money to collect on. Most years Windows is cracked very quickly, OSX a few minutes later, and Chrome OS not by the time the conference ends.

Follow the vulnerability lists like I suggested and you will see which operating systems are represented on the list and which are not.

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lol what a joke
by GRendall2 / November 13, 2015 9:59 PM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT

Chrome OS is one of the most insecure OS's on the planet

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by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 8:37 AM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT

Of course, it depends upon who you ask!
Here is an excerpt from a reliable source, regarding Linux:

"Unfortunately, two of the top ten distros deliberately use outdated code (Damn Small Linux) or make it too easy to run as a privileged user by mistake (Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux). Were these distros to gain significant popularity, their users would be exposed to a larger number of vulnerabilites than if they encouraged proper security policies."

Other Operating Systems have similar vulnerabilities.
Apple is slow to patch their vulnerabilities and as their base increases, so do their problems.
Windows 10, however, is a different beast. Microsoft has worked closely with Intel, for the last six Intel iterations, and has included many hardware security items that have been tightly integrated with Windows. One of the biggest problems that ALL Os's have is their users! Leave it to a user to bypass built-in security, either by accident, or because they think that they are smarter than the developers!

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Puppy Linux is well supported..
by JCitizen / November 14, 2015 12:53 PM PST
In reply to: Debatable

New versions come out quite often and patching is automatic; but the real advantage is there is less code to watch, and so it is easier for the FOSS community to find any holes that may come into the base.

Many experts recommend folks use the LIve CD to do their banking, and in fact some banks use the same for business, where they are exposed to the network. Since malware cannot write to a DVD/CD there is very little they can do to Puppy Linux on Live CD. The only thing that may come into play is that something could stay resident in memory during that session; but the likely hood that malware is written for that code is less likely as well. It is a proven security practice held by many in the industry who use best practices on web security. You can read about some of the best examples online at the 'Krebs on Security' site.

If you subscribe to the latest versions, you can swap out the new CD, and that is about all the maintenance required. Once online, the OS and browser will auto update any patches, during the session. Easy Peasey Lemon Squeezy!

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Once Online is the Problem!
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 1:24 PM PST

Aye, there's the rub... Once online, you are vulnerable. Unless you have malware protection. If you are sloppy in where you go online, or have NO protection you ARE vulnerable.
Security experts claim that a website gets infected every 21 minutes! Please do NOT go under the assumption that because your OS only has 3% of the market, or something similar, that you will go unnoticed!
It only takes one silly mistake to get caught! Thoroughly check the trusted websites for your OS and make sure that you have the MOST UP-TO-DATE version of your OS AND any protection that they recommend!

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Very little can happen...
by JCitizen / November 14, 2015 5:20 PM PST

Because the bug cannot write, and does not have root privileges, the chance that any code could damage you in any way is pretty far fetched. Only processes that run with user privileges could run, and so no keyloggers or screen capture malware can do you harm, and the CD cannot be damaged because it cannot write. You would have to go a long way to show me how one is vulnerable on this instance. Some repositories in full fledged Linux distro do include keylogger or screen capture software - but Puppy is only the basics and that's all.

Each time you reboot you have a brand new session, completely clean until you surf to the next site. If you are using Firefox or Chrome, you can put adblocker and script blocking extensions on as well. Just transfer the CD to a writable disk, update the browser, save it, then copy and burn to a CD-R disc. Now the browser can also block anything fishy that might happen - although I don't honestly know what it could do with just user privileges in the first place. In fact, if it were possible to use a Windows Live CD, you would have the same protection. However I'm not familiar with any bootable Live disc that can do more than provide a simple PE environment.

There are products out there that work like Microsoft Steady State that would turn your drive into a type of unwritable drive in a similar manner - however there are malware that can defeat Steady State. I read that some of the security software in Libraries would take a state sponsored hacker to break into a write phase in any given boot session. Some of them are not presently vulnerable to cracking, as the sub kernel boot geometry has very sophisticated protections that go way beyond Steady State.

I'm surprised a lot more people don't install Steady State on to their XP installations, because then they would not have to worry as much about malware taking over the vulnerable operating system files. Even if a write is attempted, the modifications are wiped out in the next reboot. For most ordinary people this is actually the perfect no maintenance scenario; they would not need to update anything ever again, because simple rebooting would correct anything a web site could throw at you. Now there is a perfect no maintenance solution!!!

XP is the last Microsoft operating system that can work with Steady State, but support is on your own. You might ask - how do I save my files when I'm done? You can copy them to a flash drive, and as long as you wait until that is necessary and run CCleaner to lower the chance of onboard malware, then plug it in and copy to flash, before rebooting or shutting down. It has been a while, since I've read about Steady State, but using another partition not protected by Steady State or another internal drive would work also. It is less likely that malware will try to make modifications to another partition or non bootable drive than the C:\ active boot drive. Cryptolocker is one of the few exceptions that comes to mind. There is always the cloud storage too.

I agree, and it is a given that no system is totally invulnerable; so my additional advice is to let Puppy auto update, before beginning your dedicated surfing session, so that any holes that may have come up will be patched in the running image before you go any further. Just opening Chrome or Firefox will auto update instantly, so that won't be a concern. There are always zero day vulnerabilities out there, but one must have some confidence the FOSS community will find them in time and issue a patch. The exceptions to this rule are truly rare.

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(NT) Microsoft Security
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 9:12 AM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT
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Microsft Security
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 9:15 AM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT
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Windows 10 Security
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 9:22 AM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT
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Windows 10 Secure - You Bet!
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 10:13 AM PST
In reply to: Windows? Secure? NOT

Here is a small paragraph explaining some of the new Microsoft protection.
It is a bit technical, so the newbies can just skim it!

"The idea of using security that runs outside the virtualized environment is somewhat akin to a feature in the physical universe that exists in a fifth spatial dimension, and thus can see what goes on inside, but can never be reached by anything not existing in the same dimensions. This same idea is one of the latest ideas in security because it prevents the common approach by malware writers of first disabling the security before taking over the machine. Microsoft is also working on security that attaches to information. This means that you could protect specific items, perhaps a document or a data file, so that it can only be accessed after providing the correct security profile, regardless of whether the information resides on the computer where it was created, or whether it is in transit or is located on another device. This feature includes automatic encryption provided by Windows 10."

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On the Off Topic Question about secure systems!
by FiOS_Dave / November 14, 2015 9:02 AM PST

"Android is already taking a beating with revelations about flaws in Stagefright, the Android media player, and that problem will be discussed at Black Hat by the man who uncovered it, Joshua Drake, director of platform research and exploitation at Zimperium Enterprise Mobile Security. And other researchers will show other ways to hijack Android devices.
“A comprehensive study has revealed the existence of multiple instances of a fundamental flaw within the Android customization chain that leave millions of devices and users vulnerable to attack,”
The 2015 Black Hat Conference will show how to defeat almost any security system, whether it is a PC OS, a malware protection program, a secure entry system an autonomous automobile! On the other hand, they will also show how to harden these systems.
So, let's get back on topic and help the newbies who are looking for answers regarding WINDOWS.

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What capoderra really, really means ....
by baseplayer2 / November 14, 2015 6:13 AM PST

I have to say in capoderra's defence that I don't think he made a typo. When he says:

"...unless I get something from the internet that I want to pass on to someone who has Windows..."

Surely he's talking about passing a piece of information on to somebody, and taking due precaution in case that something which he does mean to pass on, contains a virus, which he doesn't!

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Maybe, or could just be agreeing with...
by James Denison / November 15, 2015 10:02 AM PST
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