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  1. #1
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    The Windows Maintenance Challenge: Part 1




    TOP STORY

    The Windows Maintenance Challenge: Part 1


    By Fred Langa

    Can commercial software maintain your PC better than Windows' built-in and free tools? This article is the first in a series that will help you determine which tools — free or paid — yield the best results on your specific PC.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/the-windows-maintenance-challenge-part-1 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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  3. The Following User Says Thank You to Kathleen Atkins For This Useful Post:

    Steve Hall (2014-08-14)

  4. #2
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    Third Party tools are brilliant...

    I thought these third party tools were really the bees' knees. There's one that can detect my computer is slow just by me playing a video on Youtube. Isn't that clever.

  5. #3
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    Just a quick little improvement in your batch files. Instead of using
    C:\Users\{username}\
    Change it to
    %USERPROFILE%\

    %USERPROFILE% will expand to the right c:\Users\{} path so the script will work without modification, a straight cut-n-paste from your article is all that's required.

    It means the scripts will also work with Windows 2003 or (*gasp*) XP systems that use the old "C:\Documents and settings" path.

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    Steve Hall (2014-08-14)

  7. #4
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    An excellent article! It kills (at least) two birds with one stone by showing you a consolidated look at how to get your PC in great shape and the effectiveness of the third party tools.

    I've seen other tests on registry cleaners / optimizers so I don't hold much hope for them but perhaps the other tools may fair better. That being said, I don't think registry tools are useless as I had WinASO fix a specific problem of a network login popping up when trying to access another computer on my lan where there was none. I have my adventures on this documented here: http://goo.gl/wGbYyr. If link is gone then the forum took it out - can't blame them if they do with all the spam and stuff but you can PM me for it if you wish.

    Anyway, I look forward to the rest of the article!

  8. #5
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    For some reason, I can't get the batch files to write to timelog.txt. I've double-checked pathing to be sure nothing's amiss there; I've tried jimruby's modification (above); I've manually created timelog.txt (and deleted it after rebooting and finding it still empty).

    The batch files are executing: I can see the terminal window flash, and the restart is normal. Ideas?

  9. #6
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    comparing before or after windows system tools cleanup?

    Great idea.

    I'm not sure from the article, but it seems to say you're cleaning up the system with windows tools THEN imaging for running the other tools to see if they find anything else.

    If so, I'd like to see a comparison of the original pc's stats before and after windows tools, and original pc's restored image after each non windows tools was run.

    And include how much time it took you to run all the windows tools to accomplish your results, and the time it took (you individually, as well as wait time separately to let programs run) for each of the aftermarket tools to run/do their job.

    Thanks,

    Rich

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rernst View Post
    ... I'd like to see a comparison of the original pc's stats before and after windows tools, and original pc's restored image after each non windows tools was run. ...
    Rich
    While the article is very useful, it would have been a bonus to see what Rich suggested. Running the tools on a clean system probably wouldn't produce much results but running the tools on a dirty system should show what each program can do. Perhaps after a run of the tools see how much better it can be made by using the Windows tools afterward.

    -Commander Dave

  11. #8
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Hey Y'all,

    Here's a little refinement I made to the Startup Timer files that does the following:
    1. Copies the TimedRestartFinished.cmd file to the Startup folder when you run the TimedRestart.cmd program.
    2. Upon reboot automatically displays the TimeLog.txt file in Notepad.
    3. When Notepad is closed the copy of TimedRestartFinished.cmd in Startup is automatically deleted so it doesn't run every time you boot/restart.

    TimedRestart.cmd
    Code:
    cho off
    copy "%MyDocs%\Batch\TimedRestartFinished.cmd" "%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\*.*"
    echo Restart began at %date% %time% >> "%MyDocs%\TimeLog.txt"
    shutdown -f -r -t 00
    Note: the use of %APPDATA% to find the startup menu ( I see this was previously mentioned above using %USERPROFILE%. %APPDATA% just goes a little farther down the path as you might say.

    Note2: I have an environment variable %MyDocs% set on all my machines as I always split my data out on a separate drive. You can set up your own path here or just substitute your own path information as appropriate.

    Note3: I store both CMD files in the directory %MyDocs%\Batch and have a shortcut to the TimedRestart.cmd in my custom tool bar menu, you can place one on your desktop if desired.

    TimedRestartFinished.cmd
    Code:
    Echo off
    echo Restart ended at %date% %time% >> "%MyDocs%\TimeLog.txt"
    notepad.exe "%MyDocs%\TimeLog.txt"
    start /b "" cmd /c del "%~f0"&exit /b
    exit
    Hope you find this useful.
    Last edited by RetiredGeek; 2014-08-14 at 12:30.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

    VBA Rules!

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    seems to me that whatever timestamp you capture via a "bootdone.bat" file is going to be close to meaningless. all that tells you is at what point in the reboot sequence that particular batch file ran. more than likely there are a ton of other processes that are running at startup, some of which will run before that batch file and some of which will run after that batch file. only way that i'm aware of to figure out exactly when the boot process is done is by installing a program like Sysinternals Process Explorer and putting a shortcut to it in your startup folder. then when the system reboots, just watch the Process Explorer display and wait for it to stabilize with only procexp.exe showing any significant CPU activity. and that's the point at which the boot process is 100% complete.

  13. #10
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    The problem with these procedures is that they may discover "errors" - but you have to know what they mean and how to fix them if they are important. For example, I ran the sfc /scannow process on my very clean Win8.1.1 system and it found an error that it could not fix (corruption - hash mismatch) for prncacla.inf in the Amd64\CNFGJ2530.DPB file. This is a MS file, and it is not clear what it does - but problems with this file usually show up in boot errors ("cannot load..."). I see no errors and my system boots fast without any problems. A little seachring found a site with a SFCFix program (www.sysnative.com). This attempts to fix SFC errors. I ran it and it reported that it had been successful in fixing this error. (I think it just replaces the file with a known good copy.) I ran sfc again and it confirmed that there were no errors. I was tempted to just ignore this - as sometimes fixing something that doesn't really need to be fixed can cause other problems.

    David

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    jwitalka (2014-08-15)

  15. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhite View Post
    seems to me that whatever timestamp you capture via a "bootdone.bat" file is going to be close to meaningless. all that tells you is at what point in the reboot sequence that particular batch file ran. more than likely there are a ton of other processes that are running at startup, some of which will run before that batch file and some of which will run after that batch file. only way that i'm aware of to figure out exactly when the boot process is done is by installing a program like Sysinternals Process Explorer and putting a shortcut to it in your startup folder. then when the system reboots, just watch the Process Explorer display and wait for it to stabilize with only procexp.exe showing any significant CPU activity. and that's the point at which the boot process is 100% complete.
    "wait for it to stabilize" seems vague (depends on your definition of "significant") and less meaningful than "at what point in the reboot sequence that particular batch file ran".

    Isn't the point to ascertain when the system becomes available for some action that you're waiting to perform?

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    "wait for it to stabilize" seems vague (depends on your definition of "significant") and less meaningful than "at what point in the reboot sequence that particular batch file ran".

    Isn't the point to ascertain when the system becomes available for some action that you're waiting to perform?

    Bruce
    no, i don't think that's the point of the article at all. Langa said he's trying to time "how long your system takes to go from power-on to a stable desktop". just because a one-line batch file in the startup folder has completed is no indication whatsoever that the system is now "stable". there could be dozens of other programs and services thrashing the system at that point.

    what is vague about "wait for it to stabilize"? Process Explorer gives you a great picture of exactly what is going on with your processor. when there are dozens of startup processes still consuming cycles, it will be very obvious. and when all the startup processes are complete, it will also be very obvious. and it is at that point that i would maintain that you now have a "stable desktop".

    an added advantage of using Process Explorer here is that it will tell you exactly what all is going on while the system is booting up, and which of those processes are really using a lot of the CPU. it's a great tool for diagnosing the types of issues Langa is referring to here.

  17. #13
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    Maintenance Challenge

    Fred's latest article in Windows Secrets about maintenance issues was very interesting. I experimented with his procedure for measuring shut down times. I succeeded and found out that my shut down time was 1:46:11. I was going to try it again the next day, so I left the desktop as it was. When I tried to log on today, my desktop showed only my log on icon (usually there are two) and it was password protected. No matter which password I tried, they all failed. The only way I got up an running again was to re-install a system image. I am wondering if the results of my time checking were that cause of my problem.

  18. #14
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Hall View Post
    For some reason, I can't get the batch files to write to timelog.txt. I've double-checked pathing to be sure nothing's amiss there; I've tried jimruby's modification (above); I've manually created timelog.txt (and deleted it after rebooting and finding it still empty).

    The batch files are executing: I can see the terminal window flash, and the restart is normal. Ideas?
    Take the quotes off the path statement. Here's mine:

    echo Restart began at %time% >> C:\Users\bbearren\Desktop\timelog.txt

    shutdown /f /r /t 0
    Last edited by bbearren; 2014-08-17 at 18:20. Reason: clarity
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

  19. #15
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    I use a combination of Windows tools and a couple of freeware tools. I also disable some of the Windows built-in maintenance routines. The only "maintenance" chore I handle at the mouse/keyboard is drive/partition imaging. Everything else is done via Task Scheduler in the wee hours.

    I ran Fred's timed restart (after I got it to work) 10 times over the course of an afternoon, and my average restart time on Windows 8 (that has been up and running my way since April of last year) is 57.83. That's a range of 1:01.48 down to 0:53.96. That includes a double-tap on the enter key to get past my boot manager and the Windows 7 boot menu.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

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