Digital dilemma

Inspired by Charles’ efforts to improve the performance of his Mac without reinstalling the O/S, and finally fed up with the bloating that my Windows install had taken, I resolved this morning to fix it by whatever means necessary – even considering the possibility of a total reinstall and digging up the OEM Windows CD my Dell came with (this, of course, mocked as ‘Windows approach’ by Mac afficionados everywhere). And it had to be done in time for the football

So I started – initially just uninstalling the useless freeware that I’ve installed over the last two years (the length of time this Windows install has been active and, erm, “stable”), and gradually started to see improvement. After a couple of major hiccups, I decided I needed to clean the bits of the registry that were beginning to really nark me off (bizarre applications for long-since removed hardware still launching, for example…) – and a manual session with ‘regedit’ followed. But there were still bugs.

Frustrated, and reluctant to reinstall Windows and let the Mac-lovers have their moment of triumph, I found a shareware registry doctor, which I’ve since bought, called Advanced Registry Doctor. It rocks: not only does it actually fix some of the more tedious problems I was experiencing, but it lets you browse the startup entries in your registry — and as well as letting you deselect or delete certain components, it (shock, horror) tells you what they are and if you need them active! Good performance bonus there. It also had a registry defragmentation option, which seems to have immediately improved the performance of my PC.

Having done all that, I’ve upgraded a couple of device drivers and the machine seems pretty stable – my NAS drive has thus far failed to cause the blue screen of death, despite a couple of hours continuous operation (it was pretty bad before). I’m geekily pleased with myself.

Of course, it sounds like Charles sorted out his Mac much more easily, and I’m not really winning and PC vs Mac debates here. And I certainly won’t make a grand defence of the system architecture that causes a PC to experience a hundred years of human aging in a 2 year period — my machine was experiencing some serious moments of senile dementia — but it is good to find a workaround. Recommend the above software to anyone whose machine has started to grunt under the weight of its age and either can’t face the prospect of reinstalling or doesn’t have the necessary knowledge to do so.

P.s. I don’t hate Macs, btw. My relationship with Apple is a bit more complex than that and I may blog about it sometime. Suffice to say that I think there’s a lot of truth in this.