Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/168528/htg-explains-do-you-really-need-to-regularly-reinstall-windows/
For many people, Windows seems to slow down over time. Quite a few people fix this by regularly reinstalling Windows. But do you really need to regularly reinstall Windows? And, if so, how regularly do you need to reinstall it?
Reinstalling Windows is never a bad idea. But if you're a power user like me with hundreds of apps installed, it's not very feasible. What I found to work good is to uninstall and reinstall your 'heavier' applications, which can help speed up Windows (and resolve conflicts too).
You left off my favorite solution for avoiding Windows slowdowns:
You don’t have to uninstall what you didn’t install in the first place. If you want to get rid of an app, just delete its folder. Done.
And if you save them to a cloud-synced folder (Dropbox, SpiderOak, Box, SugarSync, whatever) you won’t have to worry about losing them should you ever truly need to reinstall Windows—just sync up with your service and your apps are back.
There are portable alternatives for just about everything nowadays. In fact, except for Paint.NET, a few utilities and some hardware-specific programs (i.e., my printer and scanner software) I don’t have anything installed on this computer—it’s all portable apps.
A way to ease the pain of a clean reinstall is to first do a clean install, do the necessary tweaking of the OS, do the necessary updates, and install, tweak, and update the programs you know you will be using for the foreseeable future. Then make an image of the boot partition(s) or boot drive. The next time you want to do a "clean" reinstall, just restore the image, download and install any updates, then make a fresh image (it's a good idea to hold on the original image as well as the latest one or two) for the next time. The free version of Macrium Reflect is an excellent program for making the images. Our own Whs has written an excellent tutorial on how to use Macrium Reflect.
I use Acronis True Image 2011-13. It's well worth the $15-25 you'll spend. Try to find it on sale (Newegg.com and Tigerdirect.com have it on sale frequently). I simply make a fresh install of Windows. I then install all the updates and drivers, and my normal programs. Then I use the PC for a few days to make sure everything is running good and I didn't forget to install anything. Then I make a back up image using Acronis and store that image file on a second drive, or on my home server, thumbdrive, or burn to a disc. Then "if" my pc crawls to a slow, or I get an infection, or whatever I simply throw my usb thumbdrive with the Acronis boot software on it into my pc and reinstall that image file in about 15 minutes I'm back to a brand new fresh install instead of taking all day, or several days to get everything back to fresh. Like I said, WELL worth the money!
One thing you missed out that is Windows registry has to be defragmented. Windows slows down mainly due to fragmented registry. Registry fragmentation occurs mainly due to uninstallation of some softwares that aren't coded well.
I've been using Windows 7 from past 2 years & still it is running as good as new because I clean & defragment the registry. Tools I use are CleanMyPC, CCleaner & Registry Mechanic from PC Tools.
All the 3 are good tools to clean the registry & only 2 tools can defragment the registry they are Registry Mechanic & CleanMyPC.
You can use any of the 2 tools(i.e Registry Mechanic or CleanMyPC) to defragment the Windows registry.
That's not true at all.
The relevant bits of the registry are read into memory when the system starts up, and even if the registry files on disk get slightly fragmented, it won't delay the startup by all that much. Once the system is running, it's not going to slow down because of fragmentation.
Sadly the "PC cleaning" industry has convinced everybody otherwise.
I use portable apps and imaging. And I second the use of portable apps in dropbox, etc. very useful when switching between computers, vms, and installations.
Good Article, keep up the good work.
BTW I forget to mention why I use Acronis. I run my (2) 120Gb Kinston HyperX SSD's in raid0 for my main system drive. I had a HUGE problem with almost every one of the "popular free" imaging programs not recognizing my Raided drives. I found that the most recent version of Acronis True Image 2013 works just fine. None of the "free" programs will do this and some even mention their "pro" paid version will do it. I guess they don't consider most home users have a raided system drive and that some professional will try to get past their payment requirements?!?!?
While removing unneeded apps and limiting startup activities certainly have benefits, I usually do three things with all of my Windows machines that will improve the performance dramatically (and thereby reducing the chance that I'll re-install).
Disable the eye candy. There are a lot of places where windows uses fading, sliding, and other effects. Rather than having smooth transition effects these just give the impression of things being slow. Disable them from Advanced System Settings > Performance > Visual effects.
That just gets rid of the impression of slowness. Real performance gains are obtained by disabling virtual memory. But this is a dangerous one. If you use too many heavy apps, then you should also upgrade the RAM (it's pretty cheap). If you still keep hitting the ceiling though, just re-enable virtual memory.
Turn off system restore. This is a dangerous one too. If you're ever scared about losing important information, keep it enabled. As for me, I just see slow program installs and windows updates if I keep system restore enabled. If my machine does get hosed, I can usually recover it my way, and if not I'll just recover what data I want and re-install windows (however, I haven't had the need to re-install in the last 4 years or so due to this reason)
BONUS: This is certainly NOT recommended, and probably will be the topic of some debate. But I've noticed removing antivirus will also speed things up. I've done it on machines that I don't care about, but you should certainly not remove antivirus from your everyday computer, and if you do, use extreme caution (seems like antivirus comes built in with Win 8 so in the future you may not need to install it in the first place).
I found these tricks a few years ago. Each one has it's own pros and cons. Do what works for you.
Install the latest version of Linux Mint XFCE 64 bit and then install vmware player and install windows there. You can make multiple copies of your windows machine by simply copying and pasting. You can keep multiple copies of windows, say a version with only one particular app installed, all on your usb stick or use Bittorrent Sync to have the various windows flavors available to run on whichever machine you happen to be on.
I don't mind the eye candy and haven't noticed much, if any, difference with or without it. I do disable Aero Glass (transparency) since it does use some resources and I feel it looks hideous.
I also disabled Virtual Memory. The main reason for that, though, was to shrink the size of the OS by allowing me to dramatically reducing the page file. With 32GB RAM, I don't need to worry about running out of memory.
I have had trouble with System Restore not working in the past so I disabled it, preferring to depend on imaging for "system restores". That also reduced the amount of spaced taken up by the OS.
Granted, removing an AV, depending on the AV, will reduce the amount of resources being used but will not affect the speed of a machine unless the resources available are marginal to begin with. And, of course, running without an AV is dangerous.
Just a reminder.
If using SSDs, the SSDs should be Reset to Factory Condition Before Cleaning Installing or Reinstalling an O/S.
How about when restoring with an image?
Yes should also Reset SSDs to Factory Condition Before Restoring an Image.
Now you tell me. I've only done a restore about four times. How do I do that?
Use Parted Magic to Reset the SSD.
Then Restore an older Image.
The image should begin filling complete data blocks from the beginning of the SSD thus leaving plenty more free blocks.
imo ,limiting startup activities "can" be beneficial. but not always.
May i ask where you came up with this one? imo if your hardware can handle it, then disabling these Visuals won't make a difference in performance, It "Can" make a difference, but not always. When you play/open a full screen app/game then they are disabled, while your full screen app/game is running.
Disabling Virtual memory is dangerous, as you never know when you might need it, sides, you can't truly disable Virtual memory, as Windows is a Virtual memory based os.
System restore is a basic safety net, i never disable it as it has saved me many times because of some bad update/change, so i leave it, if it takes too much drive space, then reduce the amount of storage it uses. It creates a restore point before a wu takes place, and before installing applications.
Certian antivirus apps are heavier than others. so simply use a lighter one or tweak the settings of said antivirus to make it lighter if you can.
I agree with "Each one has it's own pros and cons"
Agreed! Backup & Recovery Workstation with Universal Restore goes a step further, and will let you restore an image to dissimilar hardware. New PC from a different vendor? No problem. I use this all the time at work. Saved me HUNDREDS of hours building machines. I can go from boxes of PC parts to loaded, fully up-to-date OS running on a new machine in 90 minutes. It's a beautiful thing! Best $90 I ever spent.
This topic is now closed. New replies are no longer allowed.