Saturday, October 06, 2012

Windows woes

One of my neighbours tells me that she is having problems with her computer. The machine, which is only a few years old, runs Windows Vista. Although she was told by the shop where she bought the machine that the language could be changed from Spanish to English, that proved difficult with the Vista Basic copy supplied. No matter, the lady in question has learnt a bit of Spanish by mastering the menus in a different language.

Now though she finds that the computer won’t boot up properly into Vista. It struggles, eventually tries to remedy the fault(s) and finally loads the operating system. I imagine that, even when Vista does come on the screen, everything runs at a crawl.

I reassured my neighbour that the actual machine was not at fault. The problem lies with Vista which has become corrupted over time and that it is not necessarily anything that she has done which has caused this. It  is Windows itself and possibly the programs she has loaded that are to blame.

When things like this happen, the chief culprit is usually the Registry where all the settings that Windows and other programs are stored. The other likely cause are the .dlls or dynamic linked libraries. These extensions to programs are often shared to save space and so if they are erased or altered by one program that can impinge on the behaviour of others.

We all imagine that if we uninstall a program we rarely use, that it will be gone completely from our computer. That is rarely the case – there are often files and folders left on the hard drive and entries in the Registry that are left behind and these can have an adverse effect of the performance of Windows.

The sure fire way to get her machine back to fully working condition is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows and the programs from scratch but that would mean loosing all of the data she has stored and it relies upon her having all the installation discs to hand.

The less belt and braces approach is to get Windows to repair itself properly which can only be done by starting the computer up from the Windows installation disc. The repair programs on that disc can then work on the copy of Windows installed on the hard drive which of course is not running at the time.

I do hope she can sort this out, I know of several people who have given up on the task and gone out to buy a new computer instead. To me that is a bit drastic, a bit like buying a new car just because some part of it needs repair.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I have spoken with some people (a very few) who think Vista was 'fit for purpose', but my experience is that it was a complete shambles from start to finish. A few years back I had a couple of perfectly-operating machines running XP (one less than 2yrs old, the other about 4 yrs old), but as Vista had come out about 6mths before I thought I would 'upgrade' to it by buying a new machine with Vista Home premium installed - it seemed to work brilliantly for a couple of months, but then the problems began - I had to do a complete re-install of the operating system (using the supplied Vista OED discs); this was a recurring pattern every few months until I gave up in disgust, copied all the important data onto USB sticks and put the machine away in the bottom of a filing cabinet - one day I'll have great pleasure in having a ritual smashing ceremony! Of course I'm pretty certain it was not the fault of the poor machine, but of the programme itself. There was also the obligatory back-ups which Vista enforced almost every month. I do back-up pretty regularly, usually every couple of weeks, in my own way, and I hated being forced to follow Vista's dictates, like it or not. Subsequently I have bought several newer notebooks so I could still use XP, although I have friends who have used Windows 7 very successfully for some years, too, so I'm pretty sure it would be stable too. Of course it is being replaced by Windows 8 soon and I'll read reports about its performance in practice with great interest. I may in due course go with Apple as although I've used Windows versions for years and like it, generally speaking, I think Vista was a disaster - and all the on-line fora I have read seem to agree.