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    The Windows Maintenance Challenge: Part 2




    TOP STORY

    The Windows Maintenance Challenge: Part 2


    By Fred Langa

    Can commercial, third-party maintenance software outperform Windows' built-in, free tools? This is the conclusion of a two-part series that will help you determine which PC maintenance tools free or paid yield the best results on your specific system.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/the-windows-maintenance-challenge-part-2 (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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    Dear Fred,

    I took a Reimage license as I could not make a system backup (Microsoft!) for one year; I had not been able to fix that.
    Reimage made the same fuss about my system as you described, but did not fix my issue. Even after several runs.
    After a mail to the organisation, Reimage suddenly fixed my issue and I am able to make regular backups with Microsoft backup.

    However Reimage tells me every three days that my system is a mess and I have to run their program. I decided to uninstall Reimage and have not had any troubles with my system.
    Now I have annull their automatic continuation to keep my money.

    Regards,

    Harm Buiter

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    I learned years ago (Decade or 2) when I used Norton SystemWorks that most of these tools were useless if you kept care of your system. Run Antivirus/AntiMalware religiously. Though I must admit, I do uninstall programs that I demo, and never buy. And NEVER, NEVER run Registry cleaners.

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    Fred:
    Thanks for an informative article. My main comment is this - Why, after twenty-four years since Windows 3.0, are we still thinking and worrying about the security and stability of the Windows OS? My recent personal experience of OS management includes Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, and all Ferdora releases for the last 10 years. Compare:

    1. Windows 8 and 8.1: Purchased a new Lenovo laptop. Lenovo loaded 65 updates but did not install them! One hour to install. After that, another hour to download a 3.5GB patch (yes, a patch of 3.5GB) to upgrade to 8.1. Two months later two hours to install the forced update called "Windows 8.1 Update"...otherwise Microsoft will withdraw my ability to obtain any further updates. Four hours of completely unproductive time.....zero user benefit.

    2. Fedora 10 through Fedora 20: Every six months I back up my two Fedora machines and install the latest Fedora version. Backup/install/restore is usually around 90 minutes for one machine. Usually the machines need no maintenance between upgrades, and each upgrade gives me the latest version of a wide range of office, productivity and development software.

    I know that there are people who have a religious attachment to their chosen OS.......not me. My Fedora experience is at once cheaper, less time consuming and, at worst, no less effective than Windows. Why would I pay Windows prices for the sort of aggravation which the software you have reviewed allegedly fixes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbiggs View Post
    Fred:
    Thanks for an informative article. My main comment is this - Why, after twenty-four years since Windows 3.0, are we still thinking and worrying about the security and stability of the Windows OS? My recent personal experience of OS management includes Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, and all Ferdora releases for the last 10 years. Compare:

    1. Windows 8 and 8.1: Purchased a new Lenovo laptop. Lenovo loaded 65 updates but did not install them! One hour to install. After that, another hour to download a 3.5GB patch (yes, a patch of 3.5GB) to upgrade to 8.1. Two months later two hours to install the forced update called "Windows 8.1 Update"...otherwise Microsoft will withdraw my ability to obtain any further updates. Four hours of completely unproductive time.....zero user benefit.

    2. Fedora 10 through Fedora 20: Every six months I back up my two Fedora machines and install the latest Fedora version. Backup/install/restore is usually around 90 minutes for one machine. Usually the machines need no maintenance between upgrades, and each upgrade gives me the latest version of a wide range of office, productivity and development software.

    I know that there are people who have a religious attachment to their chosen OS.......not me. My Fedora experience is at once cheaper, less time consuming and, at worst, no less effective than Windows. Why would I pay Windows prices for the sort of aggravation which the software you have reviewed allegedly fixes?

    Well, probably because Windows is still the Dominate OS on Home users desktops, and Work computers & Servers.
    I also run Ubuntu on a computer. Its not bad for the basics, but for Work, Recreation (Gaming), I use Windows 7.
    Yes I'm a Windows 8/8.1 hater, but no biggie.
    Linux is OK for the advanced user, I mean IT individual, but for the rest of the Users, Windows or Mac OS still prevails due to ease of use.
    Your average home user is not going to build their own computer then download different Linux Distros to try out and see which one they like.
    Whoops that would require a second computer to download to, and burn to CD or on USB.
    And if Linux is so great why are there so many Distros?
    Why does it need to be recompiled to use the latest update to it?
    And how long does an upgrade take?
    But, bottom line, Windows OS is still the best all round OS out there.
    Yes its bloated like a Sumo Wrestler, Crashes every so often, But its still the easiest to install software, Buy Software for, get help from someone, etc.
    Linux is getting there, slowly. I keep trying different versions but in the end I usually switch back to my windows machine.
    I mean I came from the days when Novell & Unix ruled the network world, and where are they now?
    Novell was far superior to Windows in networking but required CLI knowledge, till later on when it was to late.

    Besides truth be told, if ever there was an OS that didn't require updates, security patches, etc, it would never see the light of day.
    Because how would a company make money off an OS that didn't need to be replaced?
    And how long would a programmer stay in business if they wrote an OS that didn't need updates?
    Just my 25cents.

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    Fred –

    I've enjoyed reading your Windows Maintenance Challenge series. I've had experience since the early 1980's managing and using personal computers, both professionally and privately. I've always been suspicious of the claims of third-party maintenance software tools, especially since I ran an early one some years ago that told me I had all kinds of "problems" (hundreds) on one of my XP systems that needed to be "fixed", and I knew that most of the items on the list it presented were not the least problematic. When the first PC Matic commercials started appearing, I told my wife that I was extremely skeptical.

    When in Part 2 you didn't say anything at all about the 3 security issues reported by System Mechanic, I assume it was because those also had "no additional details offered", just like the 10 "core data conflicts".

    I kind of wish you had run the PC Matic repair tool to see if it might possibly have garbaged up your system, unless you were concerned it might have gone beyond what you could restore from your clean System Image.

    In any case, you've pretty well confirmed that my gut instincts about these tools were largely correct.

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    Reimage

    Hi Fred,

    I used Reimage for years without problems until lately. It corrected a lot of real problems, and probably, a lot of fake ones.

    A few months ago, I had a problem with Windows update. Fivesecurity updates were available. Four were succesful, one failed. After rebooting, the same 5 updates were highly recommended again, and again and again.

    I tried Reimage and used a license key (1 of the 3 bought) to correct the 3000 problems found. After rebooting, Windows password was not recognised. I tried some fancy tricks suggested by Microsoft but my user ID was not recognised either, even "admin" was not there.

    I reinstalled the system with a W7 repair disk. I had the same update problems and I gave a second chance to Reimage. I had to use a second licence key because the first were lost in the process but the results were the same.
    My phone calls to Reimage were put on hold. My emails remained unanswered.

    Eventually, my Windows update problem solved by itself and a few weeks ago, a Reimage popup remembered me that I have about 3000 problems to repair. After doing a good disk image, I gave Reimage another try, but with the same Groundhog's day result.

    So, I gave up and thanks for your story. From now, I will use the Langa way.

    Regards,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garibaldi69 View Post
    Well, probably because Windows is still the Dominate OS on Home users desktops, and Work computers & Servers.
    I also run Ubuntu on a computer. Its not bad for the basics, but for Work, Recreation (Gaming), I use Windows 7.
    Yes I'm a Windows 8/8.1 hater, but no biggie.
    Linux is OK for the advanced user, I mean IT individual, but for the rest of the Users, Windows or Mac OS still prevails due to ease of use.
    Your average home user is not going to build their own computer then download different Linux Distros to try out and see which one they like.
    Whoops that would require a second computer to download to, and burn to CD or on USB.
    And if Linux is so great why are there so many Distros?
    Why does it need to be recompiled to use the latest update to it?
    And how long does an upgrade take?
    But, bottom line, Windows OS is still the best all round OS out there.
    Yes its bloated like a Sumo Wrestler, Crashes every so often, But its still the easiest to install software, Buy Software for, get help from someone, etc.
    Linux is getting there, slowly. I keep trying different versions but in the end I usually switch back to my windows machine.
    I mean I came from the days when Novell & Unix ruled the network world, and where are they now?
    Novell was far superior to Windows in networking but required CLI knowledge, till later on when it was to late.

    Besides truth be told, if ever there was an OS that didn't require updates, security patches, etc, it would never see the light of day.
    Because how would a company make money off an OS that didn't need to be replaced?
    And how long would a programmer stay in business if they wrote an OS that didn't need updates?
    Just my 25cents.
    So take a look at this report in ZDNet today:
    http://www.zdnet.com/what-went-wrong...tag=TRE17cfd61

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    Reimage

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.[/td] [/tr][/tbl][/QUOTE]
    I also had two bad times with reimage. Both times it reverted windows 8.1 to windows 8.0 and I had to manually update all the updates. Support said after the first time, that it could not possibly do that. But, when it did it the second time, bingo, it was deleted.

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    I have used Reimage several times the past 5 years. In each case, my PC was broken to such an extent that Windows did not function. Each time, Reimage rebuilt Windows for me, although I did have to update numerous Windows files after installation. It did this easily and quickly for those of us who lack the expertise you and others on this forum have. I think you are unfairly characterizing Reimage as software that does not work. It works fine for it's intended purpose - reinstalling Windows when it is broken. In any event, it has worked fine for me every time and saved me countless hours of frustration trying to do this by myself.

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    I learned long ago that many of the general repair tools were mostly useless. And some caused more problems than they fixed. Registry repair tools in particular. Many have all those lame warnings, designed to sucker in the ignorant. Fred has mentioned a few tools like CC Cleaner that can be useful once in awhile.

    I don't share his issue with updating drivers. Certainly not something I routinely do, and not through Windows Update. But I do review what the updates include prior. Occasionally an update has added useful new features or fixed an annoyance. And on systems with weird problems, a general update of drivers can be really helpful. The free SlimDrivers tool has helped me fix a couple of computers with very strange stability issues, without hours worth of analysis.

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    Sorry, mbiggs but its just a Ford vs Chevy argument. Each has their pros and cons. And you way overstate your case. I've maintained many Linux systems, both server and desktop and they certainly require more maintenance than that, if they're actually being used and properly updated.

    This is a Windows newsletter, so we discuss Windows features and problems. Other forums discuss the same with Linux distros.

    And why still defending the cause? By device, Windows has lost over half its market share in the last decade. To Linux, in a form called Android.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AW/HWfreak View Post
    Fred –

    I've enjoyed reading your Windows Maintenance Challenge series. I've had experience since the early 1980's managing and using personal computers, both professionally and privately. I've always been suspicious of the claims of third-party maintenance software tools, especially since I ran an early one some years ago that told me I had all kinds of "problems" (hundreds) on one of my XP systems that needed to be "fixed", and I knew that most of the items on the list it presented were not the least problematic. When the first PC Matic commercials started appearing, I told my wife that I was extremely skeptical.

    When in Part 2 you didn't say anything at all about the 3 security issues reported by System Mechanic, I assume it was because those also had "no additional details offered", just like the 10 "core data conflicts".

    I kind of wish you had run the PC Matic repair tool to see if it might possibly have garbaged up your system, unless you were concerned it might have gone beyond what you could restore from your clean System Image.

    In any case, you've pretty well confirmed that my gut instincts about these tools were largely correct.
    The problem Fred cited was that PCMatic wanted to update some drivers. Fred is very reluctant to update drivers for working hardware. A System Image Restore would fix any driver updates, but it is remotely possible to seriously damage PC components by installing a the wrong drivers and then running the hardware.

    Personally, I use DriverMax and update drivers every so often, and on my Toshiba Satellite Winodws 7 SP1 laptop, there are a few bad ones in every batch. But by and large, these updates either have no effect on my laptop's performance, or else they don't even install, or occasionally there seems to be better graphics or USB performance, or somesuch.

    My main use for DriverMax is to back up my drivers to a single location, so that WinPE or the Windows Device Manager can grab the drivers and install or restore or use them, directly from Expanded DriverMax Backup Folders. These Folders can even be on an external drive, which is how I run WinPE rescue disks. I have never paid one dime for DriverMax.

    But for Fred, any fixit tool which tries to mess with drivers is a non-starter, so he didn't even bother to run the tool.

    My Windows installation is so customized that generic tools are a complete nonstarter for any sort of maintenance. The built-in Windows Tools work for me just as well, but I have to be careful even with their recommendations.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2014-08-30 at 05:44.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidFB View Post
    Sorry, mbiggs but its just a Ford vs Chevy argument. Each has their pros and cons. And you way overstate your case. I've maintained many Linux systems, both server and desktop and they certainly require more maintenance than that, if they're actually being used and properly updated.

    This is a Windows newsletter, so we discuss Windows features and problems. Other forums discuss the same with Linux distros.

    And why still defending the cause? By device, Windows has lost over half its market share in the last decade. To Linux, in a form called Android.
    It's true that Android does not require maintenance. In fact, changes are discouraged on most devices. There isn't even Root Access on many Android devices.

    Actually, Android is different from the standard Linux kernel. It was forked many years ago, and the two are no longer comparable OSes.

    Ubuntu Linux in my experience does not require the kind of maintenance which Windows requires. I do updates any time I want to, and these usually just run in the background and leave me alone. There is no Registry to clean, and no file fragmentation to defragment.

    However, Ubuntu can accumulate junk files and conflicting system files. Just the other day, my Ubuntu Software Updater wouldn't install anything at all. It then went into a mode called a Partial Upgrade. This is a cleanup mode which makes system changes, removing obsolete stuff and replacing it with updated stuff, and removing what the updater interprets as errors and installing corrected versions of files. Just like the Third-Party Windows Repair Tools do. But with a difference -- this tool is made by the folks who built and maintain Ubuntu. So it rarely causes issues. My Software Updater then resumed working properly (after a restart) and all seems well now.

    This issue was my fault in that I have been experimenting and installing some non-Ubuntu packages into my Ubuntu installation. So errors were inevitable. I am satisfied that the Partial Upgrade went well, and corrected many of my self-inflicted errors.

    Bottom line is, although I have NEVER recompiled anything in Linux, Linux does need occasional maintenance to function optimally. And I do back up Ubuntu using the CloneZilla Live Raring bootable CD. This is pure Command-Line mode, and is a royal pain to learn and execute correctly. But it works.

    I keep Windows 7 SP1 hanging around, and I will be updating it to Windows 9 when that becomes mainstream. I prefer using Linux because it boots faster, doesn't do an antivirus update for ten minutes upon booting, doesn't have a lot of background processes or disk swapping, and is fast and stable compared with my Windows installation. Windows is prettier and more user-friendly, but once I got used to it, Ubuntu suits me just fine.

    Not for everyone, no doubt, but it works for me.

    I now return this thread to Windows maintenance.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2014-08-30 at 06:06.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    I prefer using Linux because it boots faster, doesn't do an antivirus update for ten minutes upon booting,
    You've mentioned slow MSE updates at startup quite a few times. Why do MSE updates take 10 minutes rather than 10 seconds, and does this stop you doing other stuff?

    Is this something you've specifically configured at login in Task Scheduler? (e.g. "%programfiles%\Microsoft Security Client\Antimalware\MpCmdRun.exe" SignatureUpdate)

    Bruce

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