Reinstalling windows - speed boost or myth?

So, I have taken possession of a very nice video card, thanks to a great deal offered to me by a qt3’er via PM.

My computer is fairly well looked after. Just a couple of weeks ago, I did the cleanup/registry pruning/uninstall unused apps and defrag dance, and the computer appears to run quite nicely. The process list is short, the hard disk sleeps quietly and rarely swaps out – the only thing that pisses me off is sometimes the start menu takes a few seconds to come up, and the hard drive grinds, as if it cannot find all the icons for my long, customised list of program shortcuts.

But it’s been a good year or 18 months since the last wipe’n’reinstall of the hard drive. Is this worth it, in general, to improve performance? Or is that best reserved for hopeless cases like rootkitted spyware and so on?

Listen to Sony BMG cd. Format/reload!

Definitely worth doing. Windows just accumulates so much shit over time that, after a year or more, a reinstall almost always results in a dramatic performance difference.

It’s good to do once a year, just to be sure you get anything that was hiding. (I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit, just to be sure!)

It also has the added benefit of making you backup and archive important crap, so if your hard drive dies you’re not completely hosed. It also as lets you throw out all the stuff that you thought was important but really isn’t.

Yeah. Like Windows.

Not a myth. No matter how many times you “clean the registry, spyware, etc” there’s still junk that’s left over from before. Sometimes the only way to become clean is to restart clean ;).

And while you’re at it, download a nice friendly copy of your local Linux distro.

It depends really. If you’re a blathering moron who clicks yes to every pop-up and runs online as an administrator, then a re-install is probably a good idea.

It sounds like the only issue you’re having has to do with cacheing and that would either be because of an app running a memory leak, or you are just short on ram.

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I think I’ll take the “Aliens” approach. It’s the only way to be sure.

I have a fascistic backup regimen: Backup to file server in closet, and the file server backs itself up nightly to rotating compressed archives on an external drive.

Thank you also for the linux suggestions. My file server runs Debian. I have Suse on the other partition on my desktop, and even underwent the toothgrinding horror of getting every last peripheral working. But it was all a pointless waste of time, because Desktop Linux is to Windows/Mac OS X as The Gimp is to Photoshop: impressive, interesting, but ultimately no cigar. Actually, “ultimately a complete waste of time.”

Truly the words of someone who hasn’t tried Ubuntu.

I strongly disagree with people who always call the Gimp inferior to Adobe Photoshop.

Is it a perfect replacement for Adobe Photoshop? Hell no.

Is it a great alternative for 90% of the people who are currently pirating Adobe Photoshop so they can chop up images of friends and family into funny situations, create image macros to spam across forums or create most of the relatively low-resolution images one would use for decorating their website? Hell yes.

The people who generally have an actual need for Adobe Photoshop can usually justify paying for it. Those who can’t justify paying for it generally are using it for the kinds of things that the Gimp can do just as well.


I agree. Also, this becomes really apparent when you try out GimpShop as opposed to regular The Gimp. Alot of the functionality you thought was missing is there, it’s just not where you’d expect, normally.

Truly the words of someone who hasn’t tried Ubuntu.[/quote]

Well, that’s where you’re wrong, because I have! :) In fact, when I said the file server was running Debian, I was not being fully truthful, because it is in fact Ubuntu, which is a Debian derivative.

It’s nice, and perfect for what I wanted it to do: make running a samba/FTP/web/VNC server a pleasure instead of the typical Linux endless mountain of pain.

Well, it is inferior, even if not by a great degree. In many respects, you are right. But it is the gotchas that get you. GIMP can’t do CMYK. And for every Windows or Mac thing that Linux has an alternative for, there’s usually a proverbial CMYK hiding.

The Gimp might be a poor analogy, as the lack of CMYK is arcane. But I would volunteer that most would agree with me about GIMP being Not There Yet in other respects.

It’s also not really the point, which was that desktop Linux takes so much extra effort and time and gives generally inferior results to Windows XP or OSX. Even Ubuntu! Even Ubuntu! Ubuntu is (or was) also turd brown by default.

Gimp beats the hell out of Paint :) :D


If you’re gonna take off and nuke from orbit, what’s the safe way to handle Windows updates? Last time I reformatted, I was at school and they’d burn you a disc of updates to apply after reinstalling Windows, before jumping back on the network.

Now I have less network security, and no access to the computing help desk. Is there a simple way to have Windows grab all the security updates so I can put them on a CD before a reformat?

Mired as I am in the reinstallation process, I would like to know the answer to this also.

Slipsteam service pack 2 into your install disc. It has the firewall on by default so you’re protected.

The version of Windows I have is already SP2, but the university still gave me some patches and warned me about getting on the network before updating. Were they just being paranoid?

The version of Windows I have is already SP2, but the university still gave me some patches and warned me about getting on the network before updating. Were they just being paranoid?[/quote]

Yes. Unless the network is already infected, or assigns every computer a global IP and has no firewall, your computer is very unlikely to get hit in the time it takes to install your updates and so on. You don’t need to sit at the computer chewing your fingers and sweating and rocking back and forward hoping that nothing bad will happen in the 20 minutes it takes to download and install the post-SP2 critical updates.

For instance, when installing at home last night, behind a NAT router, I installed SP2, then fired up IE and went to three sites: Windows Update, (antivirus) and (antispyware). Nothing evil wormed its way in in the meantime while there was no protection…

I fully acknowlege I am asking this out of ignorance, but I thought one of the touted features of xp was that you didn’t need to do the reinstall dance anymore. I know anyone that has worked with computers for any length of time gets into the habit of doing this, because it was very necessary for older generations of windows. I’m curious if anyone has tried any benchmarks on xp to see how much of a difference it makes?