Debunking Windows performance tweaking myths

August 6th, 2008

Lifehacker has a good article debunking many of the common Windows performance tweaking myths.

Let me sum it up for you:

  • Disabling QoS to Free Up 20% of Bandwidth - Myth busted!
  • Make Vista Use Multiple Cores to Speed Up Boot Time - Myth busted!
  • Clearing Out Windows Prefetch for Faster Startup - Myth busted!
  • Cleaning the Registry Improves Performance - Myth busted!
  • Clear Memory by Processing Idle Tasks - Myth busted!
  • Clean, Defrag and Boost Your RAM With SnakeOil Memory Optimizer - Myth busted!
  • Disabling Shadow Copy/System Restore Improves Performance - Myth busted!
  • Enable SuperFetch in Windows XP - Myth busted!
  • Disabling Services to Speed Up the Computer - Myth busted!

People will try to argue with you until your ears bleed that one or other of these tips will boost performance, but they won't be able to show you a shred of proof.

Another myth that I want to add to this is the "Windows Server 2008 makes a better desktop OS than Vista" myth. I've come at this myth from all sorts of angles and each time come to the conclusion that it is nothing more than unsubstantiated bunk.

If your PC is too slow then there are a number of reasons why:

  • It's just underpowered and needs a hardware upgrade (you're basically asking it to do too much).
  • There's an applications hogging system resources (security apps are often to blame ... see the difference that a lightweight antivirus package such as Sunbelt Software VIPRE makes).
  • There's some hardware/software problem with your PC (badly configured BIOS, poorly set power management ...).

Let me close by saying that 99% of all performance tweak I've come across that promises dramatic performance improvements turn out to be bunk.

VIPRE – In pictures

August 1st, 2008

Here's a tour of the VIPRE installation, setup and interface ... it should give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to take VIPRE for a spin.

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Vipre_03

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software VIPRE  Sunbelt Software VIPRE

Sunbelt Software’s VIPRE

August 1st, 2008

Are you looking for an antivirus solution that doesn't make your PC come to a grinding halt? I know I have for a long time now, and yesterday I think I've come across a new antivirus solution that does exactly what is says it will do ... protect your system without hogging system resources!

The product is called VIPRE and it's by Sunbelt Software (the guys who made the iHateSpam program that I also like a lot) and I've written quite a bit about this over on my ZDNet blog.

  • First off, the performance claims do seem to be real. today I've uninstalled a number of different antivirus packages from a selection of systems and replaced them with VIPRE and on every system I'm seeing and feeling a performance boost. Not only is the real time monitoring far lighter and and less of a resource hog than any other antivirus package I've come across, the system scanner is also fast and light-weight (I've been typing this, taking screenshots and running a couple of virtual machines while VIPRE has been scanning my system). My testing backs up the claims made by Sunbelt Software and goes to prove the benefits of adopting a clean slate, building a product from the ground up approach.
  • VIPRE offers all-round protection - antivirus, antispyware, protection from email-borne threats, rootkit detections and other goodies such as a secure file eraser and history cleaner.
  • VIPRE is easy to use. In fact, the interface is a pleasure to use.
  • The product is honest and gives you clear feedback relating to what it finds on your system - no scan and scare tactics here.
  • Then there's the aspect of fair pricing. A single license for VIPRE costs $29.95 and gives you a year's worth of updates, while a 3-user annual subscription is $39.95, while for $49.95 you can protect all PCs in a single household with a single site license. That's the fairest deal I've come across.
    "Typical 'household' licenses offered for security software products limit the number of PCs protected to anywhere from three to five per household," said Alex Eckelberry, president of Sunbelt Software. "With our unlimited home site license, customers pay one low annual subscription price for the product of their
    choice for all the PCs in their home. We don't care if it's five, ten, or 200 computers.  One price covers all the computers located in that residence."

If you've got a number of home PCs to protect then this is a good deal ... you get an amazing antivirus program at a rock bottom price!

System Requirements

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher
  • At least an IBM Compatible 400MHZ computer with minimum 256MB RAM
  • At least 150MB of available free space on your hard drive
  • 2x CDROM
  • Internet access with at least 56Kbps connection
  • Supported Operating Systems:
     - Windows 2000 SP4 RollUp 1
     - Windows Server 2008
     - Windows XP SP1, SP2, SP3 (Home, Pro, Media Center, Tablet) 32 and 64-bit
     - Windows Vista+ (All flavors) 32 and 64-bit
  • Supported Email Applications: Outlook 2000+, Outlook Express 5.0+, Windows Mail on Vista, and SMTP and
  • POP3 (Thunderbird, IncrediMail, Eudora, etc.)
  • Installation of VIPRE is not supported on Windows 95, 98, or ME, Macintosh or Linux

A 15-day fully functioning trial version of VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware is available.

Attention Dell notebook owners – your system might need a BIOS update

July 30th, 2008

If you own one of the following Dell notebooks then you need to read on:

  • Inspiron 1420
  • Latitude D630
  • Latitude D630c
  • Dell Precision M2300
  • Vostro Notebook 1310
  • Vostro Notebook 1400
  • Vostro Notebook 1510
  • Vostro Notebook 1710
  • XPS M1330
  • XPS M1530

In response to a potential issue with some of NVIDIA's GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) used in the above notebooks (more info on this issue here, here and here) Dell has released a BIOS update that modifies the fan profile to help keep the GPU cooler and prevent future failures.

Links to BIOS update downloads can be found here.

In my opinion this solution is far from ideal but it'll do until we get some more information on the extent of this problem from Dell.

If you're seeing any of the following:

  • Multiple images
  • Random characters on the screen
  • Lines on the screen
  • No video

Then your notebook could already be suffering from a fried GPU and you need to contact Dell tech support.

Critical security updates available for RealPlayer

July 29th, 2008

An updated version of RealPlayer has been released which patches at least four pretty serious security flaws found in older versions of the media player.

RealPlayer versions 10, 10.5 and 11 for Linux, Mac and Windows systems are affected.

I recommend that you check out what version of RealPlayer. You can do this by clicking on Help > About from the menu. If you are a Windows user you can bring in the update by clicking Check for updates. Linux and Mac users can find their updates here.

I'm no fan of RealPlayer (the program is too buggy and serious security vulnerabilities are being discovered all the time) and if I ever need to handle streaming Real video I use Real Alternative instead.