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November, 2008
Joshua November 29, 2008 2:41am
anthony: I have a quick technical question. I noted earlier that my 3.5-year old laptop is getting much slower at menial tasks. How much of this might be due to age, and how much to the fact that in the last three years I've never wiped it clean and rebuilt the system (winXP pro sp2)? about a year or so ago, the task manager dialogue stopped rendering correctly (i.e. no title bar, but the frame still appears & is functional), so I'm thinking most of the effect might be attributable to broken software creeping about in my os. thoughts?
Comments: 3
Joshua - (November 29, 2008 2:42am)
also, do you have a favorite tool for creating disk images of windows boxes?
Anthony - (November 29, 2008 8:21am)
last question first, because it's easiest: no, i've not done that to windows boxes in more than a decade and don't remember what i used then. as for your broader question, that certainly sounds more like software than hardware, and i've also certainly seen Win32 boxes of various vintages develop odd behaviors over time. assuming you're having that class of problem, wiping and reinstalling would do worlds of good, but that's clearly an invasive, time-consuming procedure. it may well be worth doing, but make sure you've done all the less invasive things first (look for error logs, defragment the disk (often a big speed issue win NTFS in particular), check for odd things being started at boot, and so on).

OS X has an option when doing its "first boot" setup after a new install to connect to an existing Mac (which you can fake with a disk image on an external drive) and import a user account, along with all the user's data and any settings/preferences that still make sense in the new version (if different). an occasional app will do something non-standard and ill-advised and thus get messed up, but that's rare; on the whole, it works very well. Win32 is a bit less cleanly structured (the registry being the biggest problem), but may well have something similar to check out; i just don't remember.
Joshua - (November 29, 2008 3:22pm)
hmm. I've done everything but the defrag (which is running) already. no obvious spyware. disk is healthy (chkdsk). bootlogs are hard to find in xp (there is a file -- bootlog.txt -- in c:, but it is always 0kb.

I'm giving the defrag a shot, and if not, I'll blow everything away. At this point, I'm proud to say that everything on my computer with the exception of Windows, Illustrator, Microsoft Office, and a few games is open-source or freeware. rebuilding should be easy (except for the office disk, which I no longer have; but OpenOffice.org is rich enough in the mean time to be more than adequate). I've already backed up my data (sadly, prefs aren't easy to back up in windows). so, we'll see...