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tanker27
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OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:06 am

Most of us are aware of this issue and a religious about a full reinstall. Back in the days of 95/98 I remember it was a monthly thing for me to do. As Windows matured it become a more infrequent thing. Since Win 7 I dont do it unless absolutely necessary or if I replace a MOBO.

but this is interesting:

http://www.networkworld.com/article/269 ... kness.html
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Hance
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:20 am

I will eat my hat if they solved win rot.
 
bthylafh
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:23 am

If you had to reinstall Win9x monthly you had a PEBKAC problem, not a Windows problem. I used my copies of Win95 and Win98 heavily for years and never once had to reinstall them.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:26 am

I reformatted my PC just two days ago. I play an old game called Thief - The Dark Project and this game uses rundll32.exe. Problem is, I noticed that when I launch the game it doesn't open anymore. I have Thief 2 - The Metal Age installed as well (a Thief series fan, obviously) and the same thing happens when I launch it. Now, I know these two games invoke rundll32.exe when they start so I checked Task Manager and saw that while rundll32.exe and the respective Thief.exe or Thief2.exe program are running, the game itself has loaded only a small fraction of itself to memory (around 1.5K), and not the usual 10K or so. I also noticed that running another instance of said games will immediately launch the game (so there would be two instances now, one fully loaded to memory and one that's still on the fence), and I later concluded that rundll32 was the culprit. When a failed launch happens, closing the Thief*.exe process but leaving rundll32 in memory will result in the game/s launching when I launch them again. I couldn't fix rundll32 and a virus scan turns up nothing and searching the interwebz didn't help. I had no other resort but to reformat. It was the first time this sort of issue happened and I am, as you can tell, an avid Thief fan so I always have these games installed. Using Windows 7 64-bit.

Anyway, I reformat my PC every 1 to 3 months on average. Usually something breaks and I just do a clean reinstall.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:42 am

Hance wrote:
I will eat my hat if they solved win rot.


Yeah the only way to solve rot on Windows would involve tons of refactoring and breaking backwards compatibility with tons of applications. MS would never do it.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:49 am

ronch wrote:
Anyway, I reformat my PC every 1 to 3 months on average. Usually something breaks and I just do a clean reinstall.


I still don't get why you should need to rebuild that often, but do you at least just restore a good image with the software and tweaks you want already configured?
Restoring, say,a 100GB fresh windows install from mechanical to SSD would probably take around 10 minutes total with Clonezilla.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:58 am

TBH most cases of "Windows Rot" these days boil down to accumulating crapware. If you are vigilant about opting out of (or at least nuking on sight) all the useless toolbars and tray icons that try to install themselves, chances are good that the system will remain responsive for a very long time.
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bthylafh
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:59 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
ronch wrote:
Anyway, I reformat my PC every 1 to 3 months on average. Usually something breaks and I just do a clean reinstall.


I still don't get why you should need to rebuild that often


Cargo cultism. He doesn't understand what's going wrong and it's a way to make it work until it doesn't again.

but do you at least just restore a good image with the software and tweaks you want already configured? Restoring, say,a 100GB fresh windows install from mechanical to SSD would probably take around 10 minutes total with Clonezilla.


If you're going to do a periodic reinstall for no reason, yeah, do this.
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tanker27
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:59 am

bthylafh wrote:
If you had to reinstall Win9x monthly you had a PEBKAC problem, not a Windows problem. I used my copies of Win95 and Win98 heavily for years and never once had to reinstall them.


Nope, I was a heavy enthusiast back then and was always tinkering. You know I had to squeeze out the Highest FPS during quake II timedemo as possible. Even so win 9x had the worst rot known to man. If you used it heavily as you say you did I would hate to see how it ran at the end.
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Ryu Connor
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:16 am

The author doesn't really cite any specific features. That post is little more than a musing. It also implies that he had a serious PEBCAK problem.

Windows 8 (some of the below exist in Vista and 7 too) did have a few tools to help manage the disk space and to check for windows corruption, but there isn't really some sort of magic tool to fix the damage bad third party software can cause to the system.

The registry being load on demand is already a big help. No need to worry about accumulating stale data.

Corruption management:
sfc /scannow
dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

Disk space management:
dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup
dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup /resetbase - even more aggressive, but removes the ability to uninstall MS updates
pnputil -e & pnputil -d to clean the driver store
cleanmgr.exe

Transition tools to image and cleanly move between hardware:
sysprep
dism
imagex (deprecated)

There are some third party tools, but many of them just make matters worse. CCleaner comes to mind - after it infamously tore up some WIndows 7 installs bad enough they couldn't apply SP1. Sometimes I wonder if some of these third party tools people try are what perversely manage to create the very rot they were trying to avoid.
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bthylafh
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:24 am

tanker27 wrote:
bthylafh wrote:
If you had to reinstall Win9x monthly you had a PEBKAC problem, not a Windows problem. I used my copies of Win95 and Win98 heavily for years and never once had to reinstall them.


Nope, I was a heavy enthusiast back then and was always tinkering. You know I had to squeeze out the Highest FPS during quake II timedemo as possible. Even so win 9x had the worst rot known to man. If you used it heavily as you say you did I would hate to see how it ran at the end.


It ran just fine, as it happens. I never felt the need to add the metaphorical Type R sticker or go-faster stripes to my Win9x installs, and I was careful about installing from unknown sources. Really, the biggest trouble I had was an early GeForce driver that wouldn't do 800x600 in 256 colors with my card.
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Hance
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:20 am

just brew it! wrote:
TBH most cases of "Windows Rot" these days boil down to accumulating crapware. If you are vigilant about opting out of (or at least nuking on sight) all the useless toolbars and tray icons that try to install themselves, chances are good that the system will remain responsive for a very long time.



I get multiple years out of a windows 7 install so yeah it takes a long time for it to happen.
 
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:41 am

just brew it! wrote:
TBH most cases of "Windows Rot" these days boil down to accumulating crapware. If you are vigilant about opting out of (or at least nuking on sight) all the useless toolbars and tray icons that try to install themselves, chances are good that the system will remain responsive for a very long time.


Agreed, most of the old machines I come across which are slow miraculously speed up twofold after uninstalling toolbars and 'driver updaters', running MalwareBytes Anti-Malware and manually examining running processes. Of course it may be easier, quicker and safer to just nuke it from orbit.

Personally I only install known software to my main OS, anything else gets vetted in a VM first - this helps me catch anything that could get through and also lets me try out the software to see if it's worth installing in the first place, this cuts down on the amount of junk accumulating significantly.
 
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:58 am

A major issue is poorly written applications.

On my previous Asus laptop, one of the bloatware was a 90-day trial game called something like "Free Piggy".

Uninstalling that bloatware broke Windows 7 registry. That caused a plague of non-specific, odd bugs for the next week until I nuked the HDD and install a clean Windows 7 copy.

I later learned that on the laptop's owner thread on Notebookreview.com, it was recommended to leave the bloatware game alone since other users also reported registry issues after uninstalling it.
 
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:28 am

I consider myself as a person that agressively maintains the OS and i still experience a sort of loss in performance. For instance, there are only a few processes that run when the system is not doing anything and yet RAM is at 1.2+ GBs in use. When i first installed the OS more than 2 years ago, the RAM usage was considerably lower.

http://imgur.com/a/Fiqlh
Last edited by Arclight on Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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tanker27
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:32 am

puppetworx wrote:
anything else gets vetted in a VM first


I am glad to see someone else doing this! I use VMs for multiple things and that is one of them. People at work call me crazy when I say that I only have windows defender running and I surf the net in a VM. But you know what? It's been ages since I have been bit by something really bad.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:33 am

Arclight wrote:
I consider myself as a person that agressively maintains the OS and i still experience a sort of loss in performance. For instance, there are only a few processes that run when the system is not doing anything and yet RAM use is at 1.2+ GBs in use. When i first installed the OS the RAM usage was considerably lower.

http://imgur.com/a/Fiqlh


It's well known that starting with Vista Windows will aggressively use RAM for disk cache. That's your "problem", not random crapware. The disk cache usage is a good thing and increases disk access speed; further, Windows will reduce cache usage if you start running out of RAM.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:37 am

bthylafh wrote:
Arclight wrote:
I consider myself as a person that agressively maintains the OS and i still experience a sort of loss in performance. For instance, there are only a few processes that run when the system is not doing anything and yet RAM use is at 1.2+ GBs in use. When i first installed the OS the RAM usage was considerably lower.

http://imgur.com/a/Fiqlh


It's well known that starting with Vista Windows will aggressively use RAM for disk cache. That's your "problem", not random crapware. The disk cache usage is a good thing and increases disk access speed; further, Windows will reduce cache usage if you start running out of RAM.


Nice reminder BUT, that's at startup too.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:38 am

Just between you and me, I think Windows accesses the hard drive a lot during the bootup process. :wink:
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:39 am

bthylafh wrote:
If you had to reinstall Win9x monthly you had a PEBKAC problem, not a Windows problem. I used my copies of Win95 and Win98 heavily for years and never once had to reinstall them.


This

just brew it! wrote:
TBH most cases of "Windows Rot" these days boil down to accumulating crapware. If you are vigilant about opting out of (or at least nuking on sight) all the useless toolbars and tray icons that try to install themselves, chances are good that the system will remain responsive for a very long time.


And a little of this.


I rarely needed to reinstall windows, even back in the Win9x days. My Win7 install has been fine for 3 years now (knock on silicon), but I'm also vigilant about keeping crap off my machine.
 
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:47 am

bthylafh wrote:
Just between you and me, I think Windows accesses the hard drive a lot during the bootup process. :wink:


I don't follow. I presume it always did so and yet say 1 month after installation at idle RAM use was at 500 - 700Mb and the programs i used to open then are the same as now (i.e. chrome, Steam and the more or less the same games). I've looked at processes and services, nothing new or suspicious there. I've run malware and AV scans, nothing. So why is it double now after 2 years?
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:27 pm

http://www.osnews.com/story/21471/Super ... orks_Myths

SuperFetch' second goal is to make applications launch faster. SuperFetch does this by pre-loading your most often used applications in your main memory, based on not only usage patterns, but also on when you use them. For instance, if you have the same routine every morning (Chrome - Mail - Miranda - blu), SuperFetch will pre-load these into memory in the morning. If your evening routine is different (for instance, it includes Word, Excel, and Super Awesome Garden Designer), SuperFetch will adapt, and load those in memory instead during the evening.

SuperFetch for applications basically operates in the same way as the boot variant; it traces what files are accessed by an application during the first ten seconds of said application's startup, which can then be used to load the proper data in memory at appropriate times. SuperFetch data for applications is stored in /Windows/Prefetch (the various .pf files).


Besides, as mentioned, if you need more RAM for a big program then Superfetch will shrink its cache. You're worrying over nothing.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:29 pm

Unless you are running out of RAM, what kind of performance drop (I am more talking about speed) have you noticed? Everything else being equal, 1 gig being used vs 2 gigs being used should not affect speed if you have say, more than a gig or two still unused. Are you just equating "RAM use" with "performance"?
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:56 pm

Okay, so I'm going to rant...

This entire concept of "winrot", in the sense that Time is a contributing factor to bad performance, is stupid. It is a term rooted purely in the lack of understanding of how a problem came to be. If it was used as a metaphorical term for user's installing bad applications onto their system and the resulting bad performance (or some other cause or causes), that'd be fine--but it isn't. There are people who actually believe that their Windows system is literally "rotting over time" like a smelly brown banana.

Let's take a look at the article's simpleton "technical" explanations:

As you add and remove apps, as Windows writes more and more temporary and junk files, over time, a system just slows down.


See, this is what I mean. This far too simplified of an explanation and assumes that the act of installing software alone is what causes the issue. If you install and uninstall WinRAR, Microsoft Office, or mIRC a billion times over, this won't happen because those are relatively well behaved applications. But if you install a bunch of random, untrusted applications from suspicious sites, click "Yes" and "Next" at every prompt, then yes... the slowness can happen. Time has nothing to do with it. If you install the same crap applications in the span of a few hours, the system will be slow again.

I'm sure many of you have had the experience of taking a five-year-old PC, wiping it clean, putting the exact same OS on as it had before, and the PC is reborn, running several times faster than it did before the wipe. It's the same hardware, same OS, but yet it's so fast.


No, you are not putting the same OS on there. After a clean install, you are running a properly configured system as opposed to a badly configured one. The user just didn't have a chance to screw it up, yet.

This slow degeneration is caused by daily use, apps, device drive congestion (one of the tell-tale signs of a device driver problem is a PC that takes forever to shut down) and also hardware failure.


Okay, seriously WTF? "slow degeneration is caused by daily use"? Device drive congestion? These are psuedo-technical explanations that he likely spews to laymans that don't have a clue, but yet nod as if it makes some sort of sense. I can't even refute those terms because they are meaningless. And look at the out of place "also hardware failure" statement to the end of the sentence--I thought this article was about winrot and "os decay"?

If a disk develops bad sectors, it has to work around them.


Ah, "bad sectors", a technical term that actually means something. Perhaps he felt compelled to use this term to make up for the BS he just spewed earlier. But yet--he stills fails because bad sectors have nothing to do with the operating system and a full format won't fix bad sectors. If your system files were stored on sectors that had gone bad, that's not "winrot"--that's physical hardware.

Even if you try aggressively to maintain your system, eventually it will slow, and very few people aggressively maintain their system.


Again, more dogma. "eventually it will slow"? This is the end of the article and he still hasn't given any concrete technical explanations to truly describe "winrot".

The fact of the matter is that "winrot" has everything to do with the user and the actions that user is taking. It has nothing to do with "time", "decay", or "rot". As most of us here are, I'm the go-to guy for computer issues for my family and friends. Almost every single time I log into a system where the person reported "my system is slow", there are errant/unwanted processes running, a laundry list of applications opened in the system tray, or something else I know the user caused. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes I can't and I just wipe the whole damn thing after a thorough selective backup. But does that mean "winrot" is the cause? No! It just means I don't know how the hell to fix it and I took the easy way out by doing a full reinstall!

Now, as a metaphorical term, "winrot" makes more sense. It can encompass issues such as the ease of installing applications from questionable sources, sandboxed applications vs. non-sandboxed, unrestricted access to the file system and network ports, unrestricted access to the startup/daemon launchers, etc. Those problems can be identified and solved--and I think Microsoft is working to resolve those issues. But "winrot" as presented by that article? As some mystery boogey-man that slowly eats at your computer until you reinstall Windows? Pfft, please... even if they could fix it, that guy would never be able to confirm it because he never knew what the problem was to begin with.
 
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:21 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
Unless you are running out of RAM, what kind of performance drop (I am more talking about speed) have you noticed? Everything else being equal, 1 gig being used vs 2 gigs being used should not affect speed if you have say, more than a gig or two still unused. Are you just equating "RAM use" with "performance"?


Besides a game that has memory leak issues i couldn't say i don't have enough RAM. I'm equating RAM usage of the OS as performance indeed.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:50 pm

bthylafh wrote:
If you had to reinstall Win9x monthly you had a PEBKAC problem, not a Windows problem. I used my copies of Win95 and Win98 heavily for years and never once had to reinstall them.

Let me guess: all-Intel hardware and Nvidia graphics?

I got to the point of being able to re-install Windows 95 in my sleep, particularly before I got my first copy of OSR2. The usual path to failure was trying to run it with any combination of hardware other than the very-best-supported Intel, Nvidia, 3Com, etc. stuff. Under the right usage conditions you could get BSODs so spectacular that the system would not come up properly afterward. Sometimes driver re-installations from Safe Mode would fix it, sometimes an OS over-install would begin to fix it (followed by going back through a slog of broken DLLs, corrupted drivers, and service patches that needed to be applied), and sometimes you were just hosed. Ditto if poorly-written program software decided to chew on the file system or Windows folder in some unseemly way. Regular DirectX updates in order to run the newest games; service patches that broke other service patches; yadda yadda. Windows 98 vastly improved on the stability and service update methodology, but it wasn't perfect, particularly if (again) you didn't have the very-best-supported hardware.

Windows NT didn't have anywhere near such problems because (a) it wasn't trying to support every little consumer doo-dad with badly written drivers, (b) it had a better file system, and (c) the OS was truly 32-bit, abstracted from the hardware base, and sandboxed from the software base.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:01 pm

ludi wrote:
bthylafh wrote:
If you had to reinstall Win9x monthly you had a PEBKAC problem, not a Windows problem. I used my copies of Win95 and Win98 heavily for years and never once had to reinstall them.

Let me guess: all-Intel hardware and Nvidia graphics?


No. The Win95 one: it had Cirrus graphics and someone else's VLB chipset, it being a 486SX upgraded with a Pentium Overdrive. The first Win98 box had an Intel chipset and initially i740-based graphics, then Nvidia and lastly Trident. The second Win98SE box (a general upgrade of the first) had an AMD CPU + SiS chipset + Trident graphics. Barring graphics problems that boiled down to "the hardware doesn't do what the game wants it to do" it all worked fine. None of them used Intel sound or modems.

I got to the point of being able to re-install Windows 95 in my sleep, particularly before I got my first copy of OSR2. The usual path to failure was trying to run it with any combination of hardware other than the very-best-supported Intel, Nvidia, 3Com, etc. stuff. Under the right usage conditions you could get BSODs so spectacular that the system would not come up properly afterward. Sometimes driver re-installations from Safe Mode would fix it, sometimes an OS over-install would begin to fix it (followed by going back through a slog of broken DLLs, corrupted drivers, and service patches that needed to be applied), and sometimes you were just hosed. Ditto if poorly-written program software decided to chew on the file system or Windows folder in some unseemly way. Regular DirectX updates in order to run the newest games; service patches that broke other service patches; yadda yadda. Windows 98 vastly improved on the stability and service update methodology, but it wasn't perfect, particularly if (again) you didn't have the very-best-supported hardware.

Windows NT didn't have anywhere near such problems because (a) it wasn't trying to support every little consumer doo-dad with badly written drivers, (b) it had a better file system, and (c) the OS was truly 32-bit, abstracted from the hardware base, and sandboxed from the software base.


I never said I didn't have problems like that, but they were all fixable without the cargo-cult solution of a reinstall every 3 months whether I needed it or not.

The Win95 box had an OS/2 3.0 partition for a while, and /that/ rarely worked right. Driver problems out the wazoo and it was slower than Win95. I ended up not using it much and then deleting it despite how much I *wanted* to like OS/2.
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:30 pm

Microsoft can't even figure out what they're doing with the interface and seems to be sinking much of its time into that, I really doubt there's any new major new feature such as that being added. And it certainly wouldn't be the one mentioned in that article if there was.

I dragged an old, very abused install of Win 7 across multiple generations of motherboards and systems and had it for at least five years. Not recommended but very doable.

Keeping a modern OS running smoothly for years just requires an SSD, common sense, and occasional maintenance, then even "win rot" becomes a minor issue. Supposed network stack optimizers, registry cleaners, and that ilk do not constitute maintenance either.
 
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Re: OS Decay

Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:02 pm

"OS Decay" is mostly a myth. What is actually happening is your computer is accumulating more and more data over time and you forget to clear it out. A "spring cleaning" usually clears it up.
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Re: OS Decay

Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:00 am

Not quite true - you can blame sloppy coders for applications that leave crap behind when they "uninstall".

Orphaned junk like that can cause looping delays and timeouts for all kind of different reasons.
Sadly, attempting to clean this up, especially registry stuff is not for the faint-hearted and can often do more harm than good.

I don't worry about windows slowing down since having an SSD. Even though my home/work installs are old they still run plenty fast enough with an SSD and I fix any individual errors/decay that really annoys me. Back in the mechanical OS drive days that wasn't quite the case.
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