Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Making peace with Vista

This is not directly related to the subject of the blog, but is worth sharing, since so many people are having problems with this.

My development machine runs Windows Vista. I'm not a fan of it (probably, like the majority), but I have to eat the same food my users do. Many people experience the same phenomenon, where Vista suddenly freezes without any provocation. It gets progressively worse with time. In my case, a few days ago it came to a point where the freezing occurred every half an hour. 

I tried different things: switching off visual styles, removing the useless Windows Defender, etc. The performance improved, of course, but the freeze attacks still remained.

Finally, I found this tip. (In Vista Home Basic, it is a bit different: you need to navigate to Control Panel -> System -> Performance -> Adjust indexing options.) It all makes sense: usually in databases functional indices are paramount, and when the system builds them, everything else is secondary. The most important analogy: if an index is corrupt, all kinds of bad things are likely to happen. Except that why would we need them in a desktop OS? It turns out that the reason is the ultra-annoying search, which is a part of the Start menu. I suppose the reason for this nuisance was to show that it's no worse OS X. Well, this is dumb. The old search was fine, and those who need better capabilities, generally use something else. In Vista, as a result, a background process is indexing nearly every file in the system. Why not make the indexing a scheduled task, and fall back to un-indexed search when necessary?

After I reduced the population of files to index to the contents of Start menu only, suddenly Vista became the most stable, high-performance system I have ever seen - I kid you not! On the other hand, if you do need and like that new bloated search, or need the thumbnails, simply go and rebuild the index. Also at this opportunity review what extensions you want to index.

Oh, and of course, I assume no responsibility if you do something silly to your machine, so don't just push everything without thinking.

1 comment:

mary said...

Thanks for this tip. I will have to try that today and see if it solves my freeze up problems before I decide to ditch Vista for Ubuntu!