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Author Topic: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software  (Read 5449 times)

justice

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Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« on: August 29, 2007, 03:17:26 AM »
For some reason I always manage to cause problems in my windows xp installation. Last night i noticed msconfig couldn't be run and the Help and Support service wasn't running and not in the services list. I suspect an third party installation utility to have removed too mayn things.

Short story:
with all the different software out & the underlying OS not protecting itself properly, how can I use all my software and software installs conveniently without problems appearing.

Long story:
So as a precaution I ran the system file checker (sfc /scannow). Afterwards, I recommend never to do this! It replaced a series of files - After a reboot I got a blue stop error. Booting into last known good mode turned out to boot into the middle of a daemon tools install and therefore broke a system level device driver Daemon Tools installs (sptd.sys).
I couldn't boot into normal mode, and as system restore was off (can't remember doing that) I couldn't fix it. Now see short story. :P

Options I've thought of:
  • Buy a big additional /external harddisk + Acronis Trueimage and make weekly images.
    Problem with this is that when I find out that there's problems it will be a pain to revert to  an identical installation without problems.
  • Bare XP install + Using a virtual PC to use most of my software with.
    It's an inconvenience, and it wn't work for games + movies due to no video accelleration (and more). Booting up two oses is a defeatist attitude.
  • Bare XP + Altitis AVS virtualising all apps.
    Still makes installs inconvenient, but should theoretically keep XP clean, and enable software packages on demand. Unknown how this works with software updates such as Adobe's updater, and startup items.. Also I don't know if this works with games? (does it affect performance). No experience.
  • Don't install as much software.
    I'm too curious - and what use is an OS that you shouldn't use software with?
  • Move to different OS(x)/Linux --
    Either too expensive at this time or will cause just as much time fiddling to get thigs set up + vmware to run certain programs. :(
  • Some magic idea you know of that I have not come across.
    Please tell.

So sorry for this long post but this issue has been annoying me since 2001. Any tips on living with Windows XP + a lot of software would be appreciated!
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 03:51:32 AM by justice »

mouser

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2007, 05:25:15 AM »
Some time ago i noticed that the more "cleaning/repairing" programs i ran, the less stable my windows OS became.
So now i never run any registry cleaners, disk check repairers, etc.

I think the reason is this:
Inside every computer that has Windows OS installed, is a tiny little miniature bill gates.  And when you run these types of programs you make it very angry and it throws a fit and starts trashing things.  That's just my theory,

justice

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 05:49:40 AM »
I have definately done away with registry cleanners, I was still using Crap cleaner to clean temporary files etc but I guess that will have to stop. I thought i could trust windows build in tools but I guess not as they will restore from my Windows XP SP2 cd so the files would be out of date and cause conflicts?

Anyway I heard some good things about AVS, so I will give that a try, and also try Acronis Trueimage, maybe split up my os drive in two partition as it is the biggest. That way I could reinstall windows without affecting the data on the other partition.

mitzevo

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 06:42:05 AM »
Don't install as much software?  ;D

I think you are too curious, you can't expect to install all the software you want and have your OS run as it were freshly installed.. If you want to experiment with new software, have a dedicated pc for that.. that way, on your primary pc, you aren't "risking" it as much.

Or, if you still want to install all the software on your primary pc, use images - some thing like Acronis TrueImage - but this gets really task intensive, creating images after each big install, update, etc. it's a lot of maintenance.. also the other option you mentioned, was to use a virtual machine for software installations, unless your pc can handle running guest os's, I don't recommend it, just as much hassle.


one of the easiest ways to b0rk MS Windows is to install some thing.. so try not to install so much software, it's not going to all play nice together.. so the best solution I would recommend would be to use virtual machines or another computer for testing software... and keep your good pc with the known good software..
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 06:46:46 AM by mitzevo »

justice

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 06:57:09 AM »
I'm not expecting it to run "as new". But I do expect my printers still working + no strange interface delays after testing and removing acrobe acrobat for example.

it'd ridiculous though that applications are able to interfere with each other, MS should buy altiris AVS and incorporate it into windows. ;)

mostly it's probably the registry and explorer issues, however this time it was system files.

Lashiec

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2007, 10:12:17 AM »
Use Total Uninstall to monitor installations and removing the crap afterwards. You have to learn how things work in Windows before being able to use it correctly, but it's worth the effort. Since I began to use almost three years ago, computers ran as fast as they should. BTW, if you give it a try, monitor only trivial software, like games and apps, forget about drivers and Windows updates, as it could do more harm than benefit.

Armando

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2007, 10:31:53 AM »
Quote
Buy a big additional /external harddisk + Acronis Trueimage and make weekly images.
Problem with this is that when I find out that there's problems it will be a pain to revert to  an identical installation without problems.

Justice, that's what I've been doing for years and I think it's the best strategy.

It's not that much of a pain if you have a Windows partition separated from your documents. You'll lose maybe... what...  30min. max? And you'll be pretty much sure that your system will be exactly how it was before... And you can do something else while the image is restored... Go for a walk, listen to the birds. Play on you 2nd computer :)

You could combine that with Altiris if you want (I don't -- too much management!). That way, you're sure you won't break anything that's not recoverable!

Although I generally don't image my system every week (because I don't install enough stuff to justify it) -- every 2-3 weeks -- I will image my system every time I feel like testing a bunch of new apps, especially if I've heard that they can potentially be dangerous.


PS. Make sure your images work! I've never had problems with Acronis, but who knows... One potentially useful habit, IMO : never use my 500 Gb backup and Image hard drive for anything else than... backuping and imaging.

Armando

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2007, 10:33:25 AM »
Use Total Uninstall to monitor installations and removing the crap afterwards. You have to learn how things work in Windows before being able to use it correctly, but it's worth the effort. Since I began to use almost three years ago, computers ran as fast as they should. BTW, if you give it a try, monitor only trivial software, like games and apps, forget about drivers and Windows updates, as it could do more harm than benefit.

I've heard good things about Total Uninstall and I think I tried it a couple years ago. Would certainly be pretty handy too...

urlwolf

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2007, 12:19:04 PM »
Another option;
run weekly backups with FirstDefense-ISR on your OS partition.
Faster, easier than acronis.
Run an incremental backup (superflexible is my fave) on your data partition.

That's what I do. I think it's pretty secure. I have a clean install of XP as a base image in FD-ISR. If things go really bad, I boot to that one. There's a long thread about how to use FD-ISR in security forums.

My strategy:
A base snapshot (windows, + drivers + barebones utils)
A working snapshot (the one I boot to everyday). You can afford to screw things up here)
An archive of the working snapshot (that's a 'last known good config'). It'll have all the programs you installed in recent history.

If you install something that craps your computer, I boot to the base snapshot, recover the last archive to the working snapshot, and then boot back to working snapshot. I hope it makes sense.

All in all, I feel pretty protected. I disconnected windows' own history, as this is a lot safer.

You could have as much as 10 archives if you wanted to, but I'm ok with one.

HTH

Darwin

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2007, 12:26:00 PM »
Some time ago i noticed that the more "cleaning/repairing" programs i ran, the less stable my windows OS became.
So now i never run any registry cleaners, disk check repairers, etc.

I think the reason is this:
Inside every computer that has Windows OS installed, is a tiny little miniature bill gates.  And when you run these types of programs you make it very angry and it throws a fit and starts trashing things.  That's just my theory,

Can't comment on your hypothesis about the homonculus in every machine, but I can verify 100% your experiences with any form of system cleaner - be it a registry cleaner, temp files cleaner or what have you. Using one without extreme caution is guaranteed to break one or more programs on my system, usually requiring reinstallation and/or reactivation to get functioning again.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Armando

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2007, 02:26:31 PM »
Some time ago i noticed that the more "cleaning/repairing" programs i ran, the less stable my windows OS became.
So now i never run any registry cleaners, disk check repairers, etc.

I think the reason is this:
Inside every computer that has Windows OS installed, is a tiny little miniature bill gates.  And when you run these types of programs you make it very angry and it throws a fit and starts trashing things.  That's just my theory,

;D

 
Another option;
run weekly backups with FirstDefense-ISR on your OS partition.
Faster, easier than acronis.
Run an incremental backup (superflexible is my fave) on your data partition.

That's what I do. I think it's pretty secure. I have a clean install of XP as a base image in FD-ISR. If things go really bad, I boot to that one. There's a long thread about how to use FD-ISR in security forums.

My strategy:
A base snapshot (windows, + drivers + barebones utils)
A working snapshot (the one I boot to everyday). You can afford to screw things up here)
An archive of the working snapshot (that's a 'last known good config'). It'll have all the programs you installed in recent history.

If you install something that craps your computer, I boot to the base snapshot, recover the last archive to the working snapshot, and then boot back to working snapshot. I hope it makes sense.

All in all, I feel pretty protected. I disconnected windows' own history, as this is a lot safer.

You could have as much as 10 archives if you wanted to, but I'm ok with one.

HTH

Nice strategy for quick recovery…
I don't want to hijack this thread, but... urlwolf, I wonder... In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of using Acronis / FirstDefense-ISR ? Can you store your snapshots on an external hard drive?

(I think that that what put me off when I first checked FirstDefense is the fact that the snapshots have to be stored on C: and I didn't have enough space to afford an extra 25 Gb -- and more -- on my C: drive.  But that might be wrong...)

katykaty

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2007, 02:43:01 PM »
Buy a second cheap PC to test out new stuff?

justice

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2007, 03:08:52 AM »
Hmm interesting response there about FirstDefense-ISR. It's good to have the snapshots at the fingertips.  I'll look into that thanks. the only problem with it if what Armando is saying is true (storing snapshots on the OS drive) is of course i'd need an additional backup solution in case hardware problems develop. But maybe that's unfair to say.

There's definately a lot of valuable advice given so far :)

Armando

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2007, 09:45:56 AM »
the only problem with it if what Armando is saying is true (storing snapshots on the OS drive)...

I double checked :

Quote
Non-system partitions/removable media can not be used to store snapshots

Which is understandable.

FirstDefense is probably the ideal solution if you have a huge hard drive. My laptop is too small for it.  :)

There is also RollBack Rx. But I've read bad things about version 7. I don,t know about the newest version. For someone who just needs a way to rollback after some software testing, RollBack Rx seems like the best solution though. Of course, it needs to PERFECTLY reliable. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Carol Haynes

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2007, 09:56:17 AM »
Virtualise all the stuff you test (VMWare or VirtualPC - which is now free - for preference, Altiris SVC if not possible and at least do a full registry backup before installing anything dodgy on your main system).

Now if I could just learn to do it myself!

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2007, 07:21:14 PM »
Option 1 (I do this often): Sandboxie! Test out the stuff before installing it and regretting it later.

Option 2 (I do this automatically): SyncBack + an old crappy HDD = easy, daily backups and an instantly wipeable PC! :)

Option 3 (I did this): Go to Vista (IMO in a few months after SP1) and mostly everything fixes itself (its kinda wierd...)

Thats what I do, and don't have problems at all with software testing (and if I do, backup, wipe, install, restore in about 2 hours max).

Cpilot

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2007, 10:11:58 PM »
Wow,
I just don't understand why so many people report problems with Windows XP.
I've been using it for over 7 years and have never had the problems everyone else seems to have.
I use a registry cleaner once a month, scan for virii every night, clean my hard drive when I feel like it and have had very...very few problems.
 :-\

J-Mac

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Re: Anger Management: living with Windows XP + lot of software
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2007, 02:02:30 AM »
Justice,

I use Acronis and I have tasks scheduled so that it creates a full image of my C: and D: drives and then incremental images after that. Presently it is set to make a full image, then incrementals every 3 days with a full image added after every six backups. All goes to my E: drive and an external USB drive too. Only needed it desperately once, but that was enough!

C: is my "System" drive, a Western-Digital 80 GB SATA with the OS - XP Pro SP2 - and my program installations only, and D: is my data drive, a Seagate 500 GB SATA containing MY Documents and several folders I use for various media files: Recorded video, TV, digital images, etc. And E: is another Seagate 500 GB SATA drive which I use only for various backups. (Acronis, photo database backups, and any critical files which I sync regularly from the other drives, Quicken data, etc.).

Works for me so far!

BTW, I DO feel your pain - lots of installations and the resulting conflicts to bite me on a regular basis. I really don't think it's going to get any better soon!

Jim